The Complete Far Side, by Gary Larsen
The Complete Far Side was a Christmas gift from my nephew, perhaps the highest weight-to-size ratio of any gift ever! I secretly believe this was to get me back for my giving him Neil Stephenson’s Reamde a few years ago.
This amazingly huge collection contains every Far Side cartoon that was ever syndicated, with few bonus panels at the end, which I can only assume are a reward for making it that far.
By way of introduction, in case you aren’t the huge fan that I am, the cartoon below is perhaps one of the most famous, and is also, conveniently, generally representative of his work.
I read The Far Side religiously when it was being published, and would cut out my favourites to post on my office door (alongside the best Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes, of course). Despite the near impossible nature of the task, I have managed to select what I consider to be some of the best Far Side cartoons to share with you here.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Dogs v Cats
Each cartoon of this pair is, frankly, only mildly funny, and neither on their own, would have bubbled up to my relatively small list of faves. But together they are hilarious. Comedy genius! I’m not wrong!!
God v Satan
A classic Larson move is to present God or Satan in an everyday situation. For example, God killing it on Jeopardy, or Satan getting irritated by a Hell-bound nerd asking “hot enough for you?” God making the snake makes me laugh out loud every time. Maybe it’s how he calls it a “cinch”. And I just love this Hell cartoon – the expression on Satan’s face as he realizes his mom (his MOM!!!) is giving treats to the accursed … brilliant!
Dogs v Dogs
Larson is a huge fan of cows. A HUGE fan. But I am partial to his dog cartoons. Trouble Brewing happens to be a favourite because I read it not long after seeing the movie “A Dingo Ate My Baby” (okay, okay, that wasn’t the actual name of the movie … but I challenge you to come up with the real title.) Meanwhile, Life Raft Dog embodies all of the brilliance of The Far Side in one panel – hilarious animal facial expression, naive humans, and a subtle reference to the actual joke. But really, it’s just the look on that dog’s face.
Exploration v Exploitation
Sometimes it’s just the wording of a minor expression in the overall text of the comic. “God, I hate him”. Hahahahaha!!!! “As usual” on the other hand … stingingly on point.
Aliens v People
Last, but definitely not least, I leave you with my absolute favourite Far Side of all time! I refuse to spoil it by explaining why.
Rating: I can’t believe you don’t already have this on your bookshelf!