Cosmos: Old School (2001) – part twenty-one

What? Christmas strips, in April? Well, sorry, everyone, but the temporal confusion will have to remain: we’ve reached the tail end of 2001, and therefore it’s time for part one (of two) of the annual glut of yuletide comic-ness!

Don’t give me that look – I’m presenting these things in order, and this is
what’s next in the queue.

Deal with it.

Ever since Cosmos’ sneaky evolution of both an A-Team cast (Artie, Gene and Co.) and a B-Team cast (Peter, Timmy and the gang), I’ve tired to divide my Christmas strip collections so that there are comics representing both groups. It’s not always a totally even distribution, depending on what gags I come up with and who can best deliver them – and this two-parter is no exception. Atypically, it’s the B-Teamers who get the lions share of the comics here: while Gene and crew receive four randoms and a Sunday strip (all in this installment), Peter and his friends get a Sunday and a whopping 10 four-panelers; forming a nice little story…. or perhaps two mini-stories, if you consider the comics in this chapter and the ones in the next separate entities. But enough hair-splitting – let’s get on with the comics!

2001 21_1
Above: Whoo boy, this strip confused a LOT of people when I first completed it. Part of the problem was that it was originally just in black-and-white, making it very difficult to tell what the snap was going on; especially since (and here’s the other half of the problem) it was A) very detailed, and B) not actually structured like a traditional Sunday strip, with a logical progression of the plot from top left / panel 1 to bottom right / panel 8. Here, your eyes just sort of drift onto the page, and…. you don’t really know where to go. I went nuts with the colour after my disastrous test run, which I must say has helped immensely; as you can now finally understand what’s going on in the scene, if not the joke. Gene is bringing in a Christmas tree to put in the big wooden tub in Artie’s panel (top right), but since the tree is too utterly gigantic to fit in said panel, and is in fact almost too big to fit in the Sunday strip template itself (which you can now distinguish from everything else, having stayed black-and-white), it’s tearing through all of the other panels and messing up the locations within them…. Yehhh. A little too avant-garde and meta to follow without a road map or diagram, isn’t it? Even in colour. Having the Artie panel and the Explorers Inc. panel the other way around might have helped slightly, as well: at least then Artie’s dialogue (effectively the punch-line) would have been in the very last panel, and as a result the thing your eyes would naturally gravitate to in search of some sort of clarification for the rest of the wacky scene. It looks nice, though!

2001 21_20001
Top: Uh oh – there’s that ol’ Male-pattern Deafness again (last seen in 2001, part 12)…. All the hints in the world doth not sway it; all the smoochy-smoochy lips on all the girls maketh not an impression upon it! And, showing its head above the battlements again – Macy’s peace symbol badge! Not there in panel 1, front and centre in panels 2 and 3, and (probably?) gone again in panel 4…. who can comprehend its mysterion ephemerailty?

Bottom: The one problem with having a friendly-but-dim rodent living under your garden shed is that he will occasionally pay you a visit…. and help himself to various insignificant trifles…. without your permission. Oh, Newton.

2001 21_30001
Top: Gene is not the most paitent of people – anything that he can do to get ‘spoilers’ from things that intrigue him, he will do with all due enthusiasm; especially at Christmas. But speaking of things intriguing: if Gene has an aunt Harriet and an Uncle Herman, he must have parents as well, right? In fact, the same must go for every member of the A-Team cast…. but in all the years I’ve been doing Cosmos, they’ve never shown up, or even been mentioned! Not even once! There’s something going on, here….

Bottom: Are these the same Christmas lights that blew out three blocks (and plunged the neighbourhood into darkness) in the last Christmas special (2000, part 21)? They very well could be – but by the looks of things, they’ve just reached the end of their operational lifespan. Duck and cover!

2001 21_40001
Top: Like most kids of the ‘Me Generation’, Peter has unrealistic expectations when it comes to his Christmas want-lists…. both in terms of quantity of gift items, and the feasibility of finding, let alone affording them. His attempts to game the system, I must say, are hardly helping matters either….

Bottom: She’s back – it’s Peter’s adorable next door neighbour, Mindy Simmons! This is her second appearance in 2001, and – as a matter of fact – her second appearance, period. She last showed up in the TV Special, remember? And she seems remarkably perceptive for a six year old….

2001 21_50001
Top: This shopping mall Santa, aside from being a potential recurring character at Christmas, provided an excellent way to bring in the main (and not-so-main) members of the B-Team cast for their five minutes of screen-time. All being children, they would naturally want to visit Santa’s Grotto; and their differing personalities (and want-lists) would produce interesting reactions on the part of the poor, beleaguered Mr. Claus….

Bottom: Uh oh, and it looks as though Mall-Santa has just met his nemesis…. Unless I’m very much mistaken, Peter is reading from the very same ‘nice, short Christmas list’ that he (almost) fooled his mother with earlier; and is now forcing it upon his supposedly captive audience instead. I have to say, he is being EXTREMELY optimistic in his requests, here – the most recent item on his list (the quiz book) was new in 1998, and the oldest (the 3D puzzle) comes from way back in 1986!



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