TNB Night Owl – The Far Side

Knickers The Cow. Image Capture by TNB.

It’s back. Or at least it will be soon.

The Far Side by Gary Larson was among the most influential single-panel comic strips ever. The format had been around for decades, used for everything from Charles Addams’ cartoons to Tom Wilson’s highly marketed Ziggy to The Family Circus by Bil Keane. In some cases it was a weekly or monthly effort which was displayed in magazines; in some, it was a daily strip.

Larson changed things. Combining an inventive and off-kilter humor with simple but distinctive cartoons, he was able to bring a touch of darkness which had previously been limited on newspaper comics pages. He also recognized and played off of the basic humanity which can be found in almost everyone, including typically serious subjects like scientists and educators.

It was where the term “thagomizer” was introduced to the scientific lexicon. A newly discovered species of chewing louse was even named in honor of Larson; Strigiphilus garylarsoni.

The strip also spawned a couple of television specials.

When he ended the strip in 1996, fans were saddened… and merchandisers were, as well. His strip-a-day desk calendars were consistently the top sellers in those markets, and his strips decorated everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts to door mats.

Last month, Larson teased people with the return. After more than twenty years, The Far Side was coming back, this time directly to the internet. currently displays an image of classic characters from the strip being thawed from a block of ice.

The culmination of all of this is happening this weekend, at New York Comic-Con. There, Andrews McNeel, the company that published The Far Side, has produced a display to hype the beloved strip… and their display allows attendees to reproduce one of Larson’s most appreciated and referenced panels.

Throughout the convention, people have been walking up to the door at the “Midvale School for the Gifted” and being photographed while pushing against it.

We’ve all been there. But for some, there’s now photographic evidence.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite Far Side strip? (Or, if you were never a fan, what’s your favorite single-panel cartoon?)

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.