Going Over to The Far Side

The thing about The Far Side is that you either really get it – or you really don’t. You either love The Far Side, or you loathe it. Gary Larson, in my mind, is one of our generation’s best cartoonist. His humor, I could only hope to one day match – living in The Far Side world is something I think we’ve all longed for at one point in our lives. It’s true that I’m selling a few of my older Far Side Gallery books, but that’s only because Ponzi got me The Complete Far Side for Christmas. With 4,300 single-panel comics… I’m finding some that I’ve never seen before. Perhaps I can get my dad to give The Far Side another shot; he puzzled for hours over how a standoff between two worm cowboys would always end in a draw. The Far Side is finally a little nearer to me.

Set in rough chronological order, the comics share pages with occasional letters from fans, detractors, editors, folks made famous by a particular [The Far Side ] cartoon, and those begging for explanations. Though few explanations are provided (Larson personally supplies merely one, plus a single apology), this collection helps answer the inevitable “how do you think up these things” conundrum. Before each year’s cartoons, Larson provides insight with essays about his childhood, various travels, occupational hazards, and his official rules for dealing with bedtime monsters (which often turned out to be his older brother). Most wonderful is the first essay on how [The Far Side] started.

For me, it started with a single pane.