Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part twenty-two

Has everyone heard the expression ‘Mid-winter Christmas’? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid I will have to interpret that very literally today – for it is the middle of June, significantly into the winter season here in the Southern hemisphere; and the next Old-school Cosmos story on my checklist…. is the Christmas 2002 special. Sure, I could put it off until December when it fits better – but then you wouldn’t have any more Cosmos: Old School blogs to read for, y’know, six freakin’ months. So accuracy be damned! We’re turning the electronic singing Santa on way ahead of schedule!

2002 22_70001
As in the previous year’s serving of yuletide strips (2001, part 21 and 22), both the A-team and B-team casts got in on the fun; but this time around Artie, Gene and co. largely dominated proceedings – with eight comics to the B-teamers four. And aside from a two-strip micro-story (starring Peter Anderson), all the comics are single-serve gags rather than being part of a larger narrative. But we won’t hold that against them, right?

2002 22_1
Top: It’s back! Which means it’s now officially a running gag – the Annual Obligatory Christmas Junk Mail Joke! Sorry, Artie, it had to pounce on someone,
and you were closest, so….

Bottom: speaking of things making a return appearance, remember the unfortunate shopping mall Santa who had to suffer the horrors of the B-team cast (namely Mindy, Peter and the Tolstoy Twins)? He’s certainly a resilient soul, as his experiences the previous year clearly haven’t dissuaded him from spreading the festive joy…. Riiiiiight up until he runs into his nemesis. That third panel still cracks me up even now – Peter says a grand total of one word, and happy time is Just Over.

2002 22_20001
Top: what is a Peter strip without one of his implausibly-long Christmas wish lists? He seems to have outdone himself this time, though: one wonders how anyone is expected to find enough time to read said list AND secure even a fraction of the items before December the 25th! Santa’s good, kid, but he ain’t that good….

Bottom: when it comes to the culinary arts, Artie is a hard act to beat – if it has ingredients, and is in any way edible, Mr. Deacon will have wrangled and tamed it like a belligerent Brahma bull! Despite Gene’s (clearly manufactured) indifference, even he will admit that his friend has impressive skills; controversial icing or not!

2002 22_30001
Top: there are some things some people Simply Should not Do, and for Gene that definitely includes anything combining high places, high voltage and Christmas decorations. You may inadvertently provide your neighbours with an annual
‘What not to do’ safety demonstration, Mr. ellis, but don’t you think
you should just hire someone to do it for you?

Bottom: it is entirely possible to overindulge on the buffet-style cornucopia at Christmas dinner (especially when Artie is one of the chefs!) – but given that Gene considers ‘self-restraint’ and ‘moderation’ as entirely mythical concepts, there might not even be enough to underindulge in after he’s visited the table….

2002 22_40001
Top: why is it that Cosmos gets all the cool toys? While we had to wait until 2016 to get a new rendition of the mighty Fortress Maximus (which looks utterly fantastic…. in robot more, anyway), Peter and co. got one in 2002! And considering it comes with a full-on extension set, the Cosmos version might even outdo both the Titans Return one AND the original from 1987! Lucky, lucky, lucky Cosmosians….

Bottom: ever bought a brand-new set of Christmas lights in pristine condition one year, but then come back the next to discover they’ve somehow twisted themselves into a tangled mess that even a trained escapologist would be afraid to become ensnared in? Well, Roger Anderson can feel your pain. Big time.

2002 22_50001
Top: Gene, seriously, what did say about you and electrically-powered
Christmas decorations?! Seek Professional Help!

Bottom: the parallels between Earth culture and Cosmosian culture are convenient for social commentary purposes, but in other ways they can be rather baffling – why DO both planets have the same holidays? Are they truly examples of parallel (or even convergent) cultural evolution, and it’s all one huge coincidence? Or did Cosmos simply adopt them after some historic contact with Earth? And do they have the same cultural – and even religious – context on Cosmos as they do on Earth? It’s those sorts of questions that keep OCD cartoonists like myself awake at night….

2002 22_60001
Top: what many people don’t realise about Gene is (especially back in the early days), although he is a goofy, fun-loving kind of guy; on occasion he really can be an absolute jerk. Especially when you’re supposedly keeping secrets from him – ‘Mr. Greedy’ mode? Methinks that’s the least we can call you, buster.

Bottom: if someone hasn’t actually made a neo-cubist Christmas tree somewhere, sometime in the history of our species, then I shall be very, very disappointed. It is unsurprising, however, that Macy would find such a creative way to celebrate the festive season, given her talent for artistic interpretation, recontextualisation and lateral thought! Anyone can have a normal Christmas tree, but in the Maxwell-Styles household, that just ain’t good enough….



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