During 2002, apparently not content with the demands of a regular newspaper-style comic strip, I decided to go whole hog and make a feature-length Cosmos comic book; whose duration was measured not in panels but in pages. Ambitious, yes, but it was something I’d always wanted to do – and given that I also intended to run off a few copies and use them as birthday presents for lucky friends / Cosmos fans, this was something worth spending the necessary amount of time on. As one-off projects go, it forms a triumvirate with the Cosmos Cosmonopoly game (2000, part 19) and the Cosmos calendar (2001, part 15); but was probably more time-intensive than either. Clocking in at 34 pages (counting the front and back covers, and the title page), Cosmos Comics #1 featured two 12 page comic stories – one starring Artie and Gene, the other Ax and Macy – as well as a selection of the expected ‘add-ons’ in any such publication (ads, puzzles and so forth), given that postmodern satirical Cosmos touch. I’ll deal with the covers and add-ons in this installment, followed by the stories in their own individual write-ups next week; as they all have their own, shall we say, site-specific details to discuss….
1) What better place to start with than the front cover? Although I went through several improvised logo designs in the early years of Cosmos, the one featured here was the longest lasting – even getting a vector art upgrade at the start of the ‘New-School’ era, in nifty shades of orange and yellow. The cover art itself is supposed to represent a series of photos thumbtacked to a cork bulletin board, showing various characters from around the Cosmos-verse; from Professor Pod (top left) to Captain Confusion (bottom right). Although quite why I also included a pineapple-shaped fridge magnet (far left, next to Macy), I have no idea…. Is cork even magnetic?
2) The title page marked the start of a bit of an in-joke exclusive to my comic book-style stories – the fact that since I was basically the entire artistic and editorial team of Cosmos, I might as well make different versions of me to carry out the assorted tasks involved; and give them ‘credit’ for the contributions at the start of each story. Superjon Red and Superjon Blue (based on Superman Red and Superman Blue from DC comics) were in control, ably assisted by Crazy Jon (for the REALLY loopy stories), Paranoid Jon (lettering and utterly obsessive record-keeping) and Evil Jon (‘cause you’ve got to have an evil twin, right?). This page also contains the only ‘recycled’ element in the entire book: one of the Top 10 comics from 2000. Other than that, everything was new material! Eat that, you lazy Cosmos 2001 calendar!
3) Probably based more on the similar inclusions in UK comic annuals than anything in an American comic, my Pointless Puzzle Psection is a (mostly) genuine set of old-school word and image puzzles…. So feel free to give them a go!
4) Remember those cramped little pages of mail-order gags, gadgets and other assorted pieces of cheap junk they used to have in comic books? Well, here’s my version of it, rebooted to hock an entire smorgasbord of comic and sci-fi related paraphenalia (or pop-cultural shout-outs, if you so prefer). A Kree sentry for only $150? I’ll take six!
5) Another thing common to comics both old and new are hyperbolic and colour-saturated advertisements for equally hyperbolic and colour-saturated breakfast cereals; usually hyped by a sugar-crazed cartoon mascot. As this was social commentary of the highest order, I was very careful to highlight the nutritional content and obvious health benefits of such a wholesome food product….
TO BE CONTINUED….