Cosmos: Old School (2001) – part eighteen

Toward the end of 2001, colour comics were an exceedingly rare beast, limited solely to Sunday strips – and even then, a Sunday strip in colour showed up a grand total of hardly ever, anyway. There were, in fact, exactly four further colour strips produced at the tail end of the year; two of which are presented here for the first time…. along with a couple of other tasty treats. Because let’s face it, an installment of Cosmos: Old School with only two comics would be a bit of a rip-off, wouldn’t it?

2001 18_1
Above: this definitely feels like one of those ‘I came up with this at Four AM in the morning while groggy and delusional’ ideas, because how else can you explain such a completely whacked-out scenario? It’s a little convoluted and quite dialogue-heavy, but the increasing escalation of weirdness (culminating in Gene’s defeated “Same ol’, same ol’….” in the final panel) make the whole thing work superbly – in whatever strange parallel universe this sort of thing is considered ‘superb’ and not ‘grounds for institutionalization’. The Type Four Cosmosian in panel two, has to win the award for ‘Greatest disproportion in nasal accouterments’…. that nose is huge!

2001 18_2
Above: I vaguely remember these strips possibly being the intended start of a longer story / series of strips – but I can’t be sure of that, so don’t quote me. Despite Artie’s rather roly-poly shape, he does in fact enjoy the benefits of  regular physical exercise…. rather more so than Gene, whose idea of a ‘good workout’ involves an extended session on the X-Box. We can see this contrast very clearly in the first strip, obviously…. The second strip, meanwhile, features an unexpected cameo by The Dog Next Door (last seen in 2000, Part thirteen), who – as demonstrated here – doesn’t limit his canine depredations to Murph and Newton: he is an equal-opportunities terroriser, mauling anyone regardless of race, colour, creed or species classification! And is simply amazes me that Artie can tie a bandana around his forehead and somehow have it go BEHIND his eyes!

2001 18_3
Above: this is one of those strips that would definitely end up on a ‘Top Ten’ list of Cosmos comics – the build-up, the impending sense of mayhem, the sudden reversal and the subsequent payoff are carried off perfectly by Artie and Gene. There’s no wasted dialogue, either, which makes it all work so well from a writing stand-point, too…. I don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

2001 18_4
Above: inspired by Mad Magazine, this is a full-page parody of the comic book subscription ads common to Marvel, DC (and most other) comics in the 1980’s and 1990’s; which I created – as far as I can recall – late in 2001. I piled on the in-jokes here, lampooning as many aspects of these ads as I could think of: the hyperbolic text, the offers of free gifts, the raft of spin-offs that comic companies do of their best-selling tales (earning them more money while simultaneously over-exposing and devaluing their characters; clearly a winning combination)…. and, of course, the fine print that nobody ever reads because Wow Cheap Comics!!!!!!! The first seven titles on the ‘subscription list’ are projects that I worked on, planned out or just considered during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s – but out of all of them, only Cosmos has made it to the present day. Well, they do say the good stuff always rises to the top, so….

TO BE CONTINUED…..

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