NEO-KOSMOS is a webcomic, begun in May 2015, about three kids raised in captivity in space. It is written and illustrated by a two-person team: Shelby Cragg, illustrator of Apothecia and Promstuck and contributing artist on Homestuck, and Amber Cragg, storyboard artist on Steven Universe. The comic also features animation by Adrienne Garcia and music by Toby Fox.
Despite never meeting in person, Tye, Iris, and Z have become close friends over the years via instant messaging. Each confined to a single room under the care of their alien "doctors," they eat nutrient blocks, develop interests and hobbies, undergo regular checkups, and learn about the lost culture of Earth by browsing an archived copy of Wikipedia. The routine of their lives is disrupted when one of them is cleared to go on a field trip.
Details about the world and backstory are revealed slowly, with lots of room for mystery and speculation. NEO-KOSMOS is short and sweet at first, but it will be a long emotional roller coaster. Shelby Cragg says the comic was inspired by a viewing of AKIRA, and that other major influences include Homestuck, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Fullmetal Alchemist.
At the start of December, 2017, the creators announced that the NEO-KOSMOS webcomic would no longer be continued, and the story would reworked into a series of illustrated novels. Currently, it is still in development: a release date has not been announced.
The comic can still be found here.
There will be some spoilers! Read at your own risk.
NEO-KOSMOS contains examples of:
- Adorkable: Tye, Iris, and Dr. Zehra. Reaches peak levels during the selfie exchange between Tye and Iris.
- After the End: Earth has been destroyed and human civilization is over. Why or how is not clear.
- Alien Blood: The blood of compies is deep blue.
- Aliens Speaking English: The entire cast speaks in English. It's unknown whether the cast is really speaking English, or speaking an alien language that's being translated for our benefit.
- All Deaths Final: According to Word of God, "there is literally no way for dead people to come back in NK."
- Angst Nuke: Seven panics and violently lashes out with their powers when Tye and Z leave range of their ability to sense them, leaving them utterly alone. They appear to shatter their containment unit from the inside out, and reduce most of their (apparently solid stone) room to rubble with the side effect of blasting it open and allowing access to the rest of the facility.
- Arc Symbol: "Some weird thing with wings inside of some circles." It's on all of Tye's shirts, there's a big one on the wall of Tye's room, and it's the icon for the kids' chat client.
- Ascetic Aesthetic: Tye's room. The walls, ceiling, floor, and furniture are the same light lavender material, with rounded corners and minimalist design. Much of the furniture retracts into the floor.
- Dies Wide Open: When Xaveria is killed their eyes remain wide open, until Z closes them before teleporting to safety.
- Dream Spying: When Tye lies back on their bed and thinks about what Iris might be up to, on page 79, they seem to have a momentary vision of her via Seven, who seems able to view the other human kids.
- Due to the Dead: Z insists on closing Xaveria's eyes after they die before removing their brain computer. Tye also places the tennis ball gifted to them by Dr. Zehra in Xaveria's palm, which nearly gets them caught by Triss.
- Earth That Was: Earth, apparently, was destroyed some time ago.
- Heavyworlder: The Notauri homeworld is much larger than Earth, and the strength shows from Triss.
- He Didn't Make It: Tye simply looks down silently when Zehra asks where Xaveria is after Tye mentions that she told them to hide, and Zehra soon realizes what they mean.
- Heroic BSoD: Tye, upon realizing the door is open, stands frozen in wide-eyed, slack-jawed shock as the lights continue to turn off and on.
- Holographic Terminal: Tye's computer, which has rather limited functionality despite its very snazzy screen.
- Humanity's Wake: According to some of Iris' documents on spaceflight, humanity never made it much further than exploring the moon before Earth was destroyed and humankind died out. Tye and their two friends are the only known surviving humans.
- Interspecies Adoption: "Adoption" may be a euphemism here, but Dr. Zehra is the closest thing to a loving parental figure that Tye has. Dr. Xaveria has a more remote, clinical parenting style, if it can even be called that. The kids' ID cards on the cast page show smiling doctors holding baby versions of Tye and Iris, and a grumpy doctor holding a screaming Z.
- Last of Their Kind: Tye, Iris, and Z are the only known surviving humans. Later subverted, as Dr. Xaveria mentioned 'MOST of them have graduated, Iris included.' This means that there were multiple humans on this station. And none of them ever met each other.
- Lightworlder: The Compie Homeworld is just barely bigger than Earth's moon, resulting in the Compies likely being much less dense than humans. Oddly enough, however, the creators have also said Compies are stronger than humans rather than weaker.◊
- Not So Remote: Once Tye escapes their room, they quickly discover that there were other test subjects living in rooms beside them all along. In fact, it's heavily implied that Iris was right next door, and both had no idea.
- Office Romance: It's implied that there are feelings of some sort between Dr. Xaveria and Dr. Zehra, with Zehra blushing when Xaveria is around and Xaveria's mask of indifference cracking to reveal hurt when they talk about Zehra deciding leave without them.
- One-Gender Race: The compies are implied to be this, or maybe Zero Gender Race.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Seven has a nosebleed after they exhaust themself blowing up their room with their psychic powers.
- Punched Across the Room: Triss is capable of doing this with spiked knuckles. Her weapon can even fire lasers capable of penetrating straight through the target before sending them flying.
- The Reptilians: Compies are very lizard-like humanoid aliens, with gray-blue skin, long tails, and sharp teeth.
- Room Escape Game: The interactive nature of the comic and the locked one-room setting give a definite sense of this.
- Sacrificial Lion: If you weren't expecting much violence in the story, you're in for a shock when Dr. Xaveria has holes punched in their gut, courtesy of Triss.
- Second-Person Narration: This is an Interactive Comic, after all. You are playing as Tye.
- Small, Secluded World: Tye has lived their entire life in a small portion of the space station on which they live. As far as we know, the other humans live in similarly isolated environments.
- Space Pirates: The story kicks off when the station is raided by a group of these made up of aliens. The biggest and baddest seems to be Triss, a member of the Notauri species, though she's taking orders from her boss/lover, Red.
- Speculative Fiction LGBT: The aliens are a One-Gender Race who use gender-neutral pronouns in most situations and leave the children to identity however they want. Most of them settle on being agender and use neutral pronouns as they have little interest in the whole "gender" thing, except for Iris. She, after research into old Earth culture, realizes that she's a girl; everyone, including the aliens, respects this. The fact that she's a "human type XY" and by modern standards transgender is a non-issue for them
- Teleporters and Transporters: How the doctors enter and exit Tye's room. It's unknown exactly how they work, but there seems to be a central telepad on Tye's "level" that's particularly important.
- Time Dilation: Iris' documents on spaceflight mention the effects of time dilation. Tye finds the concept both confusing and distressing.
- Unwitting Test Subject: While the humans are aware they're being tested on, they have no idea why, and the doctors are very unwilling to share any information about it. According to Dr. Xaveria, Tye and their group of humans were used to study how humans interacted with barriers of isolation. It is unknown as of 3/22/16 if this applied to ALL humans or just Level 2's group, or why their species is even studying humans in the first place.
- You Should Have Died Instead: Zehra angrily yells that they'd have preferred it if Tye had died rather than Xaveria killed in the process of saving Tye from the pirates.
- Wham Episode:
- Page 550, the first animation. Within minutes of her first appearance, space pirate Triss coolly executes Dr. Xaveria when the latter tries to stand in her way.
- Page 1599, another animation; Turns out that Iris' "graduation" wasn't what she thought it was going to be. She's now confined to a sealed tube on another Compie station that has come under some kind of attack.