Cosmos: Old School (2001) – part fourteen

Peter Anderson, much like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes and Charlie Brown from Peanuts, is not really a literal eight year-old. While he acts in normal childlike (or childish) fashion with his friends, parents, teachers et.al, his self-awareness, bredath of vocabulary and reasoning abilities are very much more like that of an adult – albeit an immature and oft-times self-centred one. His friends are also uncannily life-aware: Timmy, although naive, has a well-developed (and well-reasoned) sense of right and wrong; Jaime is earnets, reserved and clearly wiser than any ten year old would normally be; Wendell is a born hustler with a cunning, cynical outlook…. and the Tolstoy Twins?
Child prodigies, if I ever saw them.

By this point in time, Peter, Timmy and Jaime’s personalities were fairly well-established, and I was actually giving them some variety in their adventures beyond ‘Hey, let’s talk about Transformers for five pages’. And where this aspect showed up, I figured I could be a little more creative with it:

2001 14_10001
Top: Come on, at some point in your lives, you must have experimented to see if you could fold yourself up into a car or a plane. Admit it. You did.

Bottom: Peter is being very much a typical eight year-old in this strip, I have to say – right down to the flailing and screaming temper tantrums! Both he and his mother are still suffering from ‘Tall face Syndrome’, by the looks of things; but at least their eye / nose / mouth proportions have evened out enough that they don’t look TOO ridiculous.

2001 14_20001
Above: Ahhh, the Monster Under the Bed. I remember him. At the time, I thought this would be an interesting addition to Peter’s world – a thing-that-went-bump-in-the-night who seemed threatening at first, but was really just a guy doing his 9-to-5 job to the best of his ability; and – once you got to know him – wasn’t actually so bad, despite his tendency to leap out of the shadows with his Horror Face on. Unfortunately, I never really had that many opportunities to use him, and didn’t entirely make the best of his character when he did show up…. so the idea didn’t gain any significant traction story ideas-wise. Sigh. Two other things of note in these strips, though: Peter looks to be wearing an old-school nightcap with fluffy bobble to bed (no idea why, unless it’s somehow fashionable for Cosmosian kids to do so); and he’s missing the disc-shaped things on the sides of his head – whatever they are, they’re clearly removable!

2001 14_3a
Above: proof positive that this story wasn’t 100% working for me – this is an unfinished strip (added in after I did the other two pages of this story) that didn’t even make it past the pencil art stage, and never has. I’ve inked in the dialogue for its presentation in this blog, though, so you can actually read it: from what I can remember, I found said dialogue, and the general concept of the strip (the monster only exists when Peter thinks of / is afraid of him) contradictory, tacked-on and kind of forced; hence my reason for junking it. In fact, this was supposed to be the SECOND strip on the page…. but since the panels for strip no.1 are nothing but empty space, and I can’t find any rough sketches of other unused ‘Monster under the bed’ ideas, this must be as far as the effort got!

2001 14_40001
Above: The Monster (I never did give him a proper name) elaborates on his modus operandi, perhaps rather undermining his ability to instill fear into Peter as he does so – Anderson Jr. seems more frustrated and bored than terrified, I have to say. Still, Mr. Monster’s chattiness and dedication to his job stop him from being just another two-dimensional bully like Marco Zimmerman (see 2001, Part Seven): he may be rather manipulative, as evidenced by the first strip, but he is somewhat relatable, even likable.  I’m unsure whether giving him shapeshifting abilities was a good idea, though – if he’s already a scary monster, what’s the point of turning into other scary monsters? I can see the benefits of, say, disguising himself as a box or a lamp in oder to catch Peter unawares (or hide from his parents during the daytime); but monster-to-monster feels a leeeetle redundant….

TO BE CONTINUED….

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