As with every other cartoonist on the planet, I tend to flinch (and grimace internally) when someone pulls out the hoary old chestnut “Wow! Where do you get all your ideas from?” The simple answer to that question is, well, anywhere. Everywhere. Somewhere. Nowhere. I never know when (or where) my muse will suddenly give me an Uppercut of Divine Intervention; but when it happens, it always comes from a completely random source. For example, just yesterday I was strolling through town when – cued by a sign for a gym, I think – an image of a guy holding out a plate to a jogger and smirking ‘Cake?’ popped into my head, and within seconds…. Pow! I had a new joke all ready to go. Its always been this way, and the strips in this installment are perfect examples of the sheer unpredictability of my creative process….
Above: Whoo-boy, them’s one whole bunch a’ characters. This rather open-plan Sunday strip came about as I thought about all the other (non-Cosmos) stuff that’s rattling around in my head, and how it often competes with Cosmos for my attention. So what, I pondered, if one of those things managed to drag me off course in mid-stream, and completely took over? Not for no reason are Artie and Gene relegated to the bottom right hand corner in this one! All those characters heroes and villains are from the same universe as the lovely Guardian Angel, seen in Cosmos Comics #1 (2002, part 6 and 7); and…. yeh, I can’t even remember half their names anymore, there’s that many of them.
Above: These strips, by contrast, come directly from the ‘slice of life’ file. Back in 2002, I was hanging out with my pal Jeremy when we happened across a webcomic on the internets – an utterly, utterly hilarious one. So hilarious, in fact, we had great difficulty tearing ourselves away from it; let alone going full-bore cold turkey. Afterward, it seemed the simplest possible step to swap me and Jeremy for Artie and Gene (the similarities, I hate to say it, are terrifying); and let the magic happen. What surprised me while creating the mini-story was that GENE is the one urging restraint throughout, while ARTIE (normally the paragon of sensibility) is the one who ends up turning into the brainwashed interweb zombie! Dark horse, that one. But that’s why it works so well: because its unexpected. The other way around, we merely would have had ‘business as usual’ – which I did in the ‘Gene vs. Coffee’ story earlier in the year, anyway – and things wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting. The final panel of strip four, by the way, is another one of my ‘speech bubbles as physical objects’ explorations: if Artie’s speech bubble is tethered to his head, and he tips over, would it tip over with him? Given that this is a strip written by me, the answer is visible from about a mile away….
Above: Every now and then, I like to mix things up with a Sunday strip that doesn’t adhere to the normal template of Eight-Panels-with-Title-Bar-at-the-top. And this one needed all 13 panels I handed to it – cats (and Cosmosian cat-snakes) are notoriously fussy eaters, frequently turning their noses up at the meal you’ve lovingly prepared for them because it’s not what you normally serve…. or it’s too hot…. or too cold…. or doesn’t smell right…. or is absolutely, totally perfect in every conceivable way, and therefore not what they wanted at all. Possibly inspired by Garfield’s creative criticisms at dinnertime, I attempted to give Murph the most overblown, disproportionate, ludicrous and whacked-out reaction possible; all from the smallest nibble of the suspicious-looking new menu item. And I’d say I’ve succeeded – the mallet-head panel still cracks me up when I look at it! The only thing that worries me, though: in the last panel, there seems to be an awful lot more cat food splattered all over the walls (and Gene) than could
actually fit in Murph’s bowl….
TO BE CONTINUED….