From the mid 70’s to late 90’s Gary Larson drew over 4000 single panel comics in the Far Side series.
It’s been a long time since he drew any new cartoons so why are his cartoons still regularly seen in calendars, birthday cards, stuck to refrigerators, desks and office walls around the world?
One reason for The Far Side’s popularity could be the combination of black humour (death and disaster were common motifs) and the attribution of human characteristics to insects, snakes and various animals including farm yard animals like Cows.
The mammoth “Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set) (Hardcover)” contains every single Far Side cartoon (4,081 to be exact), including more than 1,100 that have never been published in a book. The cheapest place to buy it is Amazon.com
Upon his retirement in 1995 the Buffalo News “Nature Watch” column asked scientists around the world what their favourite Far Side comics were:
Favorites crossed specialties. Not only paleontologists cited the three most popular, all involving dinosaurs:
- “The Real Reason for Dinosaur Extinction” with dinosaurs smoking cigarettes;
- Giant dinosaurs laughing at a tiny furry mammal — as it begins to snow;
- the scientist with a large rectal thermometer standing behind a brontosaurus, “Professor Higgenbottom was never heard from again, leaving the cold-blooded/warm-blooded controversy still unresolved.”
Many runners-up were specific to disciplines.
- Mammologists: “Animal Waste Management,” bears in hard hats have run their sewage line into a human home; polar bears discussing how igloos are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.
- Meteorologists: Airline pilots playing with their controls and maneuvering wildly but announcing to their passengers that they are flying into turbulence.
- Primatologists: Female chimpanzee discovering a blond hair in her mate’s fur, “Been doing more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?” (I’m told that this was Ms. Goodalls favorite also.)
In 1994 Larson released an animated short film called “Tales From the Far Side I” and after popular acclaim a slightly longer sequel in “Tales From The Far Side II”.
These films take audiences on a strange and twisted journey through the unique landscape of the comically scientific and strangely ironic musings of Gary Larson. Long-time Far Side fans will recognize their favorites and newcomers to Larson’s land of The Far Side are sure to find someone, or something, to love.
Tales I, the Grand Prix winner at the 1995 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and official selection of the 1995 Telluride Film Festival, was described as “Unearthly and wonderful” in TIME magazine’s Top 10 List for Best Television of 1994 and The New York Times said, “Mr. Larson’s …vision defies neat categories. Sinister … and perfect.”
The films are an animated collection of vignettes (12 in Tales I and 16 in Tales II), each featuring its own storyline and panoply of Far Side characters, including mad farmer scientists, zombies at a Dead Ranch, time machines, swamp fairies, partying amoebae, devious zoo inhabitants, beer-guzzling hunters, beer-guzzling aliens, dog soldiers, insolent cats, a vacationing Grim Reaper, and of course, cows.
In a possible sign that Larson has lost interest in the franchise these 2 fabulous tales are only available for purchase on NTSC DVD & VHS tapes for delivery inside the USA 🙁
As this is the case I’ve embedded a Google Video copy of “Tales From the Far Side I” at the bottom of this article (23 minutes in length) so all Far Side fans can enjoy itGoogle Video removed it in mid 2007 🙁. However a torrent AVI version of Tales From the Far Side I is still floating around the internet
I actually liked “Tales From The Far Side II” (45min) even better with its fantastic idea of following the disasters which occur around personification of death while he enjoys his vacation, however as far as I can tell it’s not available on any video sharing websites.
On an interesting side note: Gary Larson threatens his fans with cease and desist letters if they show even 1 of his comics on their website, even if their article is about how much they love Far Side and how other people should check it out.