World building – when I first started Cosmos back in January of 1999, that was the last thing I envisaged I would be doing. It was an unproven commodity, with about as much chance of success as anything else I’d ever done: no actual characters, no locations, and certainly nothing resembling a sense of what ‘Cosmos’ even was in terms of planetary geography. But, as is my wont, bits and pieces of things – doodles in my sketchbook, elements within the strip itself, real world (and fictional world) environments that sparked my interest – coalesced together in a mish-mash of potentiality that was just begging (well, angrily threatening, by that point) to be slotted into some sort of framework. And so I did:
The continents may have shifted around a bit between my first and second draft sketches, but one thing was consistent: as far as planets go, Cosmos was anything but…. conventional. Quite where the donut-and-hole thing came from, I have no idea – not Larry Niven’s Ringworld, I don’t think; and probably not Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, although it probably helped – but I was definitely aiming for the quirkiest world you could imagine. It doesn’t rotate around its central point like a wheel, as you might expect…. Oh no, this was a stretched donut standing on end, with pointed tips that serve as the north and south poles; and the planet rotates around the axis of these instead, like Earth does. Not only that, it has a very small, egg-shaped moon (later called Obb, for whatever reason) that performs a complicated figure-of-eight orbit, causing it to loop in and out of Cosmos’ central ‘hole’ (the Circum-central Ocean); thus driving the tides.
I love making things easy for myself, don’t I?
On the final map, the continents and islands are based – somewhat – on equivalent landmasses on Earth (although the placement of all the deserts, in particular, is something I may change if I ever do an updated version – I’m not sure they’re even in the right places to BE deserts!) Kranicia, home of Artie, Gene, Professor Pod and the rest of the A-team cast, is comparable to North America, but with bits of Europe and New Zealand thrown in for good measure; while Tectonica (where Peter and the B-team cast hang out) and Albaria are basically England, Scotland and Ireland smooshed together with some leftover Europe pieces. Demozonia stands in for South America, Martaris for Africa, Rondwana for Australia; and Zyterra (and to some extent Microzonia) for Asia. The Maagar Islands – birthplace of Explorers Inc’s Tork – are a Madagascar / Galapagos / Komodo mash-up; while the Hedrian Islands and Norwegia contain elements of Norway, Sweden, the South Island of New Zealand and various sub-Antarctic islands. Both the north and south poles have Antarctica-like landmasses dumped on them,
Frigidia and Glacius respectively….
Don’t even get me started on how plate tectonics is supposed to work on this planet.
No, seriously, don’t.
TO BE CONTINUED….