Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Insects, Cows & Weird Scientists

Can’t remember when I first became a fan of Gary Larson’s cartoon, The Far Side, but from the beginning it has kept me laughing, sometimes throughout a day. The five panels included here are some I stumbled upon in a box this morning, looking through old notebooks and papers. Just random choices clipped from the newspaper, or a calendar over the years. Every one of them made me laugh out loud again for probably the tenth time.

Sometime around 1978, tired of his job in a music store, Gary Larson began drawing cartoons. In two years his name and his cartoons were familiar to millions of people around the world. It began with six cartoons accepted by a Seattle magazine, for which Larson got the grand sum of $15.00 each. The Seattle Times then offered the cartoonist a shot at producing a weekly one-panel cartoon. They called it Nature’s Way. It lasted a little over a year in Seattle before being dropped. In 1980 The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the cartoon, renamed it The Far Side, and thus began a fifteen year run. The Chronicle syndicated it nationally and in a matter of just a few months the insects, amoeba, weird scientists, cavemen and cows of Larson’s imagination had become stars of the cartoon world.

As anyone familiar with The Far Side can tell you, the set up is always surreal, usually comparing and contrasting the behavior of humans and animals. A typical Larson theme might be something along the lines of “How cows behave when no people are watching.”

Gary Larson has been recognized far beyond the comics page of newspapers and novelty store calendars. His original drawings have been hung in museums, and in one bizarre twist an insect species was named in his honor: Strigiphilus garylarsoni.

Look at cartoons here once more… I’ll bet you laughed again.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America