When is Random not a Random? When it’s a Themed Random, of course! Sometimes – less often than regular Randoms, and perhaps even more infrequently than story strips – I create (or just group together) collections of gag-a-day comics that all share the same theme or subject matter. In this case, it was a series about our old friend the Idiot Box…. and it must have been a productive period for thinking up Cosmos ideas, because I ended up with a grand total of 14 pages (23 four-panelers, 1 one-paneler, 2 Sundays); the single longest Themed Random output in the strip’s history!
Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to slog through them all in one go – just to make our respective jobs (you reading, me commentary-ing) a bit easier, they’ve been split across the next two installments of Cosmos: Old School. So get some TV snacks, make yourself comfy on the couch, and have the remote handy…. ‘cause here come the opening credits!
Top: one wonders how far all the big companies would get if they actually had to be completely transparent about the quality, practicality and even necessity of their
‘must-have’ products – not far, I’d wager.
Bottom: No, no, Gene, the real question is, why exactly were YOU watching the show
in the first place?
Top: one of the things I like most about Cosmos – and drawing comic strips in general – is the ability to not only make people laugh, but also make them think. Everything these kids are saying (especially the last panel) is, for better or worse, completely true. I definitely learned a lot from Saturday morning TV, but I also bought rather a lot of toys merely on their say-so….
Bottom: remember what I said a long time ago about my mistaken belief that I would never publish any of the Cosmos strips from early 1999? Well, here’s proof positive – this is a blatant recycling of one of Artie’s first appearances, with Gene standing in for Artie’s unnamed Type One Cosmosian friend…. Their dialogue, and even the items on the list, are virtually identical! Hmmmmm.
Top: I would actually like to see these three Cosmosian game shows, simply to
understand how they even work! Then again, many real game shows operate
on equally implausible premises, so….
Bottom: Murph is famous for being able to hear a packet of food being opened from all the way across the house – and by the looks of this strip, it also applies to advertising jingles as well. Bad kitty!
Top: On the other hand, being a cat, he clearly doesn’t understand the minutiae of televisions and other electronic devices; like the fact that the nice man on the screen isn’t actually talking to you – and no, he won’t respond to physical threats, no matter how loudly you yell at him….
Bottom: How DO these shows get funding? If the mention of the Wogentak Jungle is any indication, we’ve been cheated out of a cameo appearance by Explorers Inc. – if anyone would be running into ‘adventure and intrigue’ in that sort of environment, it would be them. For shame, Procrastination Theatre!
Top: I have no idea why I chose ‘Saving Private Ryan’ for Macy’s guess as to Ax’s movie of choice – it doesn’t seem like something they’d play on Cosmosian TV, to be honest. But Ax is right: Batman and Robin is indeed a mentally-scarring experience….
Bottom: This strip was particularly enjoyable to write, due to the convoluted spiel in panels two and three. I basically crammed in every Soap trope I could think of, sprinkled in some Weekly World News-style weirdness, and then turned my cynicism dial up to 11! It’s still probably no more loopy than the plots in actual daytime soap operas, though….
Panel four, however, annoys me – or, in particular, Ax’s book. I see what I was trying to do: make the book title text big enough so you could read it clearly…. but no book in the history of publishing has said title sprawling across both the front AND back covers! It just looks wrong, 2001-Jon. It just. Looks. Wrong.
Top: Whoop! Another recycled 1999 strip! In fact, the original version appeared on exactly the same page as the 1999 version of the ‘Sci-fi movie marathon’ strip from earlier. I’ve got to say, though, comparing the different iterations of these strips, my artwork and layout skills have definitely improved between Point A and Point B….
Bottom: Yup, y’don’t get them there lynch mobs formin’ in the cabbage farmin’ business, son. Not even after a bad ol’ ‘Purple Delicious’ harvest. Still, you City-folk think y’all know better….
Top: Wives, girlfriends, mothers and duaghters are all no doubt well aware of this deadly affliction. It goes by many names – TV Tunnel-vision, Channel-I-Can’t-Hear-You, Big Game Blinkers – but once the lads are ‘in the zone’, conversations frequently get hair-tearingly…. surreal.
Bottom: One wonders how salty Sci-Fi level popcorn is in Ax’s grand scheme of things, to produce that sort of an effect on Artie – sticking with some fruit might be a good idea there, Macy.
TO BE CONTINUED….