Webcomic profile: Cosmos
Cosmos
When Nonsense Collides!
Last update: 2 days ago, 12:36 AM
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Webcomic description

Welcome to the wonderful world of Cosmos - where the planets are donut-shaped, the people are small, green and friendly, and pop-cultural obsession is pretty much a prerequisite! Join Artie, Gene, Jenny, Ax, Macy and all their odd-ball friends as they navigate (to them) the normal travails of everyday life.... But hurry up! The next crazy adventure starts in five minutes!

Authors

Cartoonist_at_Large
Cartoonist_at_Large
Hey there! Jon Kay, cartoonist-at-large, here - I am a New Zealand-based freelance graphic designer / illustrator / motion graphics artist, working and living in Auckland. I love dinosaurs, Transformers and bad sci-fi movies! I draw the comic strip Cosmos!! I can't stop ending my sentences with exclamation marks!!!

Most recent comments left on Cosmos

Cartoonist_at_Large
Well, all them sketches were very well and good - but in the same way that you can't build a viable scientific theory solely on anecdotes, I couldn't actually make my film if I didn't bring them into the wonderful world of vector art! So, in the first stage of production proper, I started the monumental - but enjoyable - task of crafting digital, animatable character poses / models for every single Cosmosian, monster and piece of set-dressing the Monster Movie Survival guide! This first set includes critical infastructure for three particular scenes in the story: a scrolling character roster, a 'military solution' shot (because every monster movie worth its salt has a bit of Army vs. Monster in there), and a perilous escape-by-car (another sci-fi / horror trope). Given that the Cosmos gang doesn't actually get out of the car, there was no point giving Artie, Gene and Jenny legs - or even a right hand, apparently, in Artie's case - although everyone was fully equipped with the ability to blink (extra eyelid layers), change their facial expressions (an assortment of different mouths each), and wave their arms around (rotation points added to the shoulders in AfterEffects); giving them the ability to act accordingly as they flee for their lives! The miltary guys, by contrast, had far more limited functionality, because.... well, you'll see when I post up the film itself.
Author Note
Cartoonist_at_Large
Creating vector art animation puppets of the Cosmos gang was only the start of my Odyssey Of Awesome - there also happened to be a literal menagerie of monsters, bit-player Cosmosians, props, visual in-jokes and other graphical sheninanonsense to consider! Thus, I embarked on a major campaign of sketching everything that needed to feature in the Survival Guide, in whatever capacity it was required: whether it was shot-specific character models for Artie, Gene, Ax and Co. (usually including some form of animation functionality), the monsters that menaced our protagonists (sometimes animation-capable, sometimes merely still images), or the vehicles, furniture, buildings, signs and assorted movie set decoration that gave the foregrounds, midgrounds and backgrounds a bit of 'this is better than a freakin' blank screen' get-up-and-go-ness. As you can see, it took quite a number of pages to assemble everything I needed - and this assortment doesn't even include the backgrounds I sketched out for the characters, props etc. to act out their Llama dramas on!
Author Note
Cartoonist_at_Large
The good thing about doing an animated short film: you don't have to worry about hiring actors, or managing a film set. On the other hand, you do kind of have to build the actors, and the film sets, from scratch, in your capacity of someone-who-apparently-thinks-not-filming-in-live-action-is-somehow-easier. I wasn't going to let that stop me, though: Cosmos was going to come to life on the screen, and to Snap with the consequences! Deciding to start with the Cosmos gang themselves - as they already had well-established designs, that I didn't really have to change in any significant fashion when rendered in vector art - I drew up a set of five character model sheets, showing Artie, Gene, Ax, Macy and Jenny in front / 3/4 / side view. This was both to maintain consistent proportions (and scales) across all three views (and between characters), and give me a base to build the vector art versions on; which (as I thought at the time) could then be separated out into arm / leg / body / head / face layers for animation purposes. However, I soon realised that these generic models would need a ludicrous number of layers - presumably replicated in all three views, for all five characters! - in order for them to perform the multitude of actions required of them (jumping, running, crouching, freaking out etc.); and Adobe Aftereffects would probably have a fit trying to handle such huge Illustrator files! It actually turned out to be easier to create simpler models (based on the same basic components) that performed a specific action in a particular shot in the animation - such as, for example, running across the screen away from a monster. That meant quite a number of files to juggle, but at least I knew each one was going to do exactly what I wanted ahead of time. These model sheets never went any further than this stage (which is why Artie and Gene have one pose each, and Ax, Macy and Jenny are pencil art only), but they were still very useful for reference purposes as I created the actual animation models used in the film....
Author Note
Cartoonist_at_Large
Although the Monster Movie Survival guide got its footing in the writing of the script, the story didn't really come alive until I properly visualised it - in the form of a nifty-keen cartoon storyboard! Said storyboard served not only as a way to present the plot of the film (which I intended to bring about via a suitably snarky narrator, rather than hiring 7 billion voice actors), but also as a way for me to work out how to lay out my roster of gags and nerd references, and effectively move from one scene to the next; given that each scene was going to be its own little story not necessarily connected to what preceded or followed it. Compared to the final film - be patient, you'll see it - the storyboard is, amazingly, not as densely packed with stuff; containing the key events of the proper animation but lacking many of its running gags, specific scene details and scene transitions (I later decided, for example, to divide the story into 'chapters', each with its own reference-centric title card). Page 5 and 6 of the storyboard, in particular, are very much just 'this pops up, that slides in, this falls over, something runs across the screen - so clearly there was quite a bit of work to do to turn it into a proper film....
Author Note
Cartoonist_at_Large
It was late 2014, in the hallowed halls of Yoobee Design School's Digital animation and Video classroom; and the time had come for our big end-of-year individual-excellence assignments. As we were basically given free rein to do whatever the snap we wanted, and I had become far more enamored of motion graphics and animation over the course of the year than live-action film stuff (being in sole charge of a film production is a giant stress factory, people), my mind was set on continuing the tradition established in other projects by finally, finally giving the Cosmos cast the chance to run around by themselves in their very own cartoon!

But what kind of cartoon would it be? After running through any number of options, I realised that if I combined the mockumentary style of live-action films I'd made during the year with my patented 'cram it full of random pop culture gags so I don't have to write a coherent story' comic nonsense, and themed it around bad sci-fi and horror films ('cause why not?), then I'd have the makings of a cult classic. Thus was born the Cosmos Monster Movie Survival Guide, a pithy - but at that point wholly theoretical - examination of the tropes, cliches and loop-de-loo plot twists of vintage B-movies! My first step was basically scooping out the inside of my head and smearing it all over the pages of my Design School sketchbook: resulting in the above double-spread of cartoonish buffoonery.....

It's interesting looking at now and seeing not only where some of the key concepts of the film started out, but also all the other ideas that were either dismantled and later reassembled or simply not used for one reason or another - the 'periodic table of story elements' on the second page, for instance, was an absolute hoot to write and come up with ideas for.... until I made the mistake of google image searching it, and being confronted with a hundred. Million. Other ones. That people. Had already. Done. Thus, it very unceremoniously got the chop, for fear of looking like I was cadging off everyone else. Oh well....
Author Note