We’re now nearly 20 years down the road from when Gary Larson finally put his sketch pad aside, stored his pencils and stopped giving us his daily insight into his unique look at our world.
We are much worse off as a result.
It was an amazing 15-year run for The Far Side, the mainly one- or two-panel cartoon that featured weird, sometimes offhand, occasionally controversial meld of human behavior seen through the eyes of animals, aliens, the supernatural or even other humans. In some cases, it was the animals doing the very things we as humans (normally) despise in our own behavior.
I’m guessing nobody really thought of it when Larson’s new comic debuted, and I’m not sure Larson processed it until much later, but his cartoon was the perfect way to capture the foibles, hypocrisies and out-and-out strangeness of human existence.
There haven’t been a lot of comics in my life where I absolutely, positively had to read them every day. Dilbert was one, especially when I worked in a cubicle environment at the Lincoln Journal Star. Heathcliff was one when I was really young. And The Far Side was the other.
What does that say about my sense of humor? Probably that I’m weird and warped…and have been since I was a teenager. Being in media the past 17 years is no excuse for my immediate connection with Larson and his New World View. However, looking back simply adds another perspective why Larson was so relevant and so frickin’ funny at the same time.
The other thing I noticed very early on (and I’m not alone in this) was Larson’s columns may not have been connected from day to day, but the humor impact was cumulative. Eventually, you had your breaking point, that point where you curled up under a desk and howled with laughter until your sides cramped into place. Or you puked. Whatever your limit, it was only like hitting a reset button for Larson’s comic to infect your sense of self.
Man. I’m not sure what prompted me to write this. But I really miss The Far Side. It was an absolute original whose time was gone far too soon.