Unpredictability. In the construction of a set of Cosmos strips – especially Randoms – that is one of the watchwords I adhere to (along with ‘quirky’, ‘unexpected’, ‘clever’ and ‘Mu hu ha ha ha haaaa! Pathetic fools!’): if there’s a unique angle that I can approach a gag from one that will stop it from being Yet Another Joke About <fill in subject here>, then I am a very silly cartoonist if I don’t pursue it. The trick with comic strips is to make each one fresh and different, so the audience is pleasantly surprised (rather than, say, terminally bored) by what they see – even if they are variations around the same theme, for example. The following comics, however, are as idiosyncratic as they come….
Top: want to turn a hoary old cliche into a viable story? Then interpret it as literally as its possible for the human mind to do so – and add an extra 15% on top just to be on the safe side. Not only does it create a truly groan-worthy pun (and the louder the expression of disgust, the better), but there;s fun to be had in expressing it visually, as well. One baffling thing, though: both of the characters are Type-four Cosmosians (still with the mis-proportioned ‘tall face’ look, I notice), but they don’t have the regulation ear-disc things on the sides of their heads! Makes ‘em look even weirder, frankly….
Bottom: you’d think I’d run out of things to do with the ‘treat speech bubbles as physical objects’ genre, but nope, there’s life in the old dog yet! By this point in time, I’d 99% switched from enclosed speech bubbles to open, ‘invisible’ ones; but the mechanics of this gag required a momentary return to the previous pattern, as it simply wouldn’t work otherwise.
Above: this is a sketch page I drew up and coloured during some downtime at one of my Uni field courses; after one of my classmates wanted to know about Cosmos, and – not having any strips handy – I drew the A-team cast by way of explanation. The rest of the page may seem completely unrelated to my Old School musings, but there is a tangential connection: the lovely ladies (awaiting the luckiest pizza delivery boy ever) are from the superhero universe that showed up in ‘Train of Thought’ from Cosmos Comics #1 (2002, part 6 and 7); and Ray – on the left – is the civilian identity of the glamorous Guardian Angel! Did the dinosaur escape from the prehistoric jungle Artie and Gene ended up in at the start of said story? Could be.
Top: what goes perfectly well with a family day at the beach? Um, Japanese monster movies, apparently. I’m guessing the fun of stomping on sandcastles like a giant rampaging monster inspired this strip – although I don’t think I ever considered dressing in full kaiju cosplay when doing so, as these ambitious lads look to have done!
Bottom: Peter’s purpose in life, it sometimes appears, is to serve as a litmus test for what NOT to do when goofing around – when an idea sounds utterly brilliant in his head, it’s a sure sign that things are about to go very, very wrong. At least he has Timmy to steer him onto the right track…. even if it’s more often than not after the fact!
TO BE CONTINUED….