Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part one

Who’d’a thunk it? Not only is Cosmos: Old School back for an all-new season, we’re onto a whole new year! In the dawning of 2002, I decided to kick off Cosmos’ fourth year by focussing on one subject, and one character – the artistic talents of one Macy Styles. I’d shown her doing art here and there in the past, but this was the first time I centered an entire sequence around Macy’s sculptures, paintings and knowledge of the artistic oeuvre. Inspired (once again) by the social commentary of Calvin and Hobbes, Macy allowed me to – a little heavy-handedly, perhaps – look into the eccentricities of modern art, and various aspects of it I found interesting / amusing / baffling. Much of this was done without and specific research (I had yet to discover the wonderfully
word-mangling language of ‘Art Criticism’, for example),
but in a general sense I knew enough to get by….

2002 1_10001
Top: Proof positive that if you call yourself a serious artist, and call what you create ART (which of course it is, dangit!), then there will be someone there to enthuse over it, or, ultimately, buy it from you for obscene amount of money. Being a big name in the Pago Grandé art scene, Macy can – obviously – charge top dollar for her pieces!

Bottom: Macy pulls a nice bit of subversion / misdirection here, as at first we think she’s creating one type of sculptural masterpiece (i.e, something classic and conservative); but then…. surprise! It’s actually something utterly ironic and social statement-y! She’s good at that, you know. I wonder if she’s ever considered doing it as a performance piece in front of an audience? It’s strange that she sculpted a humanoid figure rather than a Cosmosian, though….

2002 1_20001
Top: Ax is, unsurprisingly, Macy’s number one fan. He helps promote all her work online, and always looks forward to seeing any new paintings or sculptures she does – even if he doesn’t entirely understand them, as shown here. Unfortunately, Macy can easily tell when he’s simply stringing random artistic buzz-words together…. After all, she’s the one who taught him them in the first place!

Bottom: Pop quiz, hot shot – what are the art styles represented in the first three panels of this strip? I’ll give you five seconds…. C’mon, it’s not that hard…. aaaaaand stop! From left to right, they are: 1) cubism, 2) pop art, and 3) 1960’s psychedelia. I’m in two minds about whether I should have been so specific in Artie’s comment in the fourth panel – yes, Cosmos (somehow) has a wealth of Earth-type pop culture stuff, but surely their art galleries would be dominated by Cosmosian artists painting in those styles (in which case, a general ‘some surrealism’ would have been just as effective as ‘Salvador Dali’), rather than actual Earth artists? I guess I put it in because it was a painter most people would have at least heard of. For the above reasons, I also changed the first panel from my original rough sketch – it featured Artie and Macy all dolled up in the style of Grant Wood’s American Gothic, another overly-specific art reference.

2002 1_30001
Top: Macy’s peace symbol badge makes its usual erratic appearances in this sequence, but here’s something new – her glasses have joined in on the act, as well! Why she is suddenly not wearing them in panel two, and panel two only, completely stumps me even now. Another thing to note, however: the hoverboards of Type-One cosmosians can apparently have things attached to them around the band at the top (perhaps a magnetic strip?), allowing Macy to carry around her art supplies without running out of hands – very useful!

Bottom: I know from personal experience, that any number of conversations Macy has had with Gene inevitably drifted WELL away from her intended target…. and this is by no means the worst of them, people. You have to wonder where Gene’s train of thought goes sometimes, or whether it has simply derailed itself….

2002 1_40001
Top: This is definitely the best of the Macy Vs. Modern Art strips – primarily because it is not as dialogue-heavy as some of the others, always a good thing – but also because it represents Gene at his most impulsive and anarchic: he just can’t resist doing the one thing no sane person would ever do, right in front of Macy! Before, I might add, he’s even answered her question!

Bottom: Macy continues Ax’s fine arts education with a trip to the Pago Grandé Arts Centre (where she both displays her artwork and takes the odd art class). The artwork they are looking at is unusual for more reasons than Ax’s pithy observation in panel four – if the pair are looking at it front-on, then both the frame and the title card underneath are somehow performing a 90° bend around a corner in the passageway! I’m guessing I wanted to make it clear they were looking at something mounted on a wall facing away from the audience (so you couldn’t see what they were looking at, which would have rather spoiled the joke)…. But unless it’s a particularly avant-garde piece (or simply defying the laws of physics!) I don’t think it would look like that….

TO BE CONTINUED….

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