The Far Side is a popular one-panel syndicated comic strip created by Gary Larson. Its surrealistic humor is often based on uncomfortable social situations, improbable events, an anthropomorphic view of the world, logical fallacies, impending bizarre disasters, or the search for meaning in life. The strip ran from January 1, 1980 to January 1, 1995. Reruns are still printed in many newspapers.

Around the world, The Far Side is perhaps better known for the compilation books and merchandise (especially calendars, T-shirts, greeting cards, and mugs) than it is for its original incarnation as a daily newspaper feature.Template:Fact

The series was originally called Nature's Way, but the newspaper editors asked to call it The Far Side

The comicEdit

Most of the Far Side cartoons are a single rectangular panel, occasionally split into small sections of four, six or eight for the purposes of a storyline, with the caption or dialogue usually appearing under the panel as typed text (although word-balloons were sometimes utilized for conversations). Sunday comics were done in watercolor or colored pencils, with captions hand written in Larson's own cursive.

Most of Larson's comics relied on some combination of a visual and verbal gag, rather than just one or the other.

Larson was recognized for his work on the strip with the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for 1985 and 1988, and their Reuben Award for 1990 and 1994Template:Fact.


Larson's comic has been attacked by people and groups to whom it caused offense. Several Far Side jokes have involved violence and murder, often between animals or humans and animals. Though not visually gory, some readers have found such strips to be too gruesome and dark for the comics page.

One cartoon shows two chimpanzees grooming. One finds a human hair on the other and inquires, "Conducting a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?" The Jane Goodall Institute considered this to be in bad taste, and its lawyers drafted a letter to Larson and his distribution syndicate in which it described the cartoon as an "atrocity." It was stymied, however, by Goodall herself, who revealed that she found the cartoon amusing. Since then, all profits from sales of a shirt featuring this cartoon have been donated to the Institute. (Larson was attacked by Frodo, a chimp described by Goodall as a bully, while visiting Gombe National Park in 1988. Goodall commented, "He somehow managed to get news of the cartoon.")Template:Fact

Larson has occasionally engaged in self-censorship, acknowledging that some of his cartoons were seriously over the line. The Prehistory Of The Far Side shows a number of these.

In The Complete Far Side as well as The Prehistory Of The Far Side, interspersed with the comics, there are letters from angry citizens to newspaper publishers, demanding the removal of The Far Side from their pages, and often citing a canceled subscription if this was not met. However, these protesters constituted a small enough minority that papers were able to continue to run the strip, with the matter becoming moot when compilation books were produced. Larson himself often laughs at the controversies of his comic as evidenced in The Prehistory of the Far Side, in which he writes that these people have usually misunderstood the cartoon.


Gary Larson has produced 23 Far Side books, all of which have made it to the New York Times bestseller list. The cartoons were first collected in small books (see list below), and some were then republished in larger best-of collections (The Far Side Galleries). Additional best-of collections were published, such as The Prehistory of The Far Side, culminating in the final, most complete publication, The Complete Far Side.


Other booksEdit

The five Far Side Galleries are the most popular of the books, each of them collecting together the best cartoons from three smaller books, along with a humorous foreword by a celebrity fan, including Stephen King, Robin Williams, and Jane Goodall.

In 1989, The Prehistory Of The Far Side was published to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the strip. In this book, Gary Larson discussed the development of The Far Side, the public's reaction to it, and presented a selection of his personal favorites from the cartoon's history, as well as previously unpublished sketches and strips rejected by his editor.

In 2003, The Complete Far Side was released, which contains nearly every Far Side comic ever published, although some cartoons written for Christmas cards were not included. The collection is also missing parody art pieces from Wiener Dog Art, some material from The Prehistory of the Far Side, and a panel run for a caption writing contest in the Telegram-Tribune newspaper. The set was released in two volumes (1980–1986 and 1987–1994), with a foreword by Steve Martin and an introduction by Larson's long-time editor Jake Morrisey. The first-edition hardcover boxed set weighs nineteen and a half pounds (8.8 kilograms). Some of the comics were altered for this book, either featuring a different caption or correcting errors or simply colorised. In 2003 Gary Larson drew a cover for The New Yorker magazine,[1] a prestigious offer he said he couldn't refuse.[2]

On TelevisionEdit

In 1994, Larson produced an animated special, Tales from the Far Side, featuring his art style and gags from the strips. He followed up with a sequel in 1997.


It is difficult to find many Far Side cartoons online, since Larson (and/or his publishers and lawyers) has been very effective at persuading people to not infringe on his copyright. There is a widely distributed letter online, attributed to Gary Larson, in which he explains the "emotional cost" to him of people displaying his cartoons on their websites, and asks them to stop doing so.

In Popular CultureEdit


  • Anatidaephobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.
  • In Cheers,Woody looks at a newspaper depressed. When the regulars ask why he's down he says its because he doesn't get the Far Side. After they explain it to him, he tells them he was just disappointed his newspaper doesn't carry it, and now they made him feel stupid.
  • Strong Sad from Homestar Runner dresses up as the fat kid from The Far Side in the 2007 Halloween special.Template:Fact
  • Darkwing Duck: In the episode "Beauty and the Beet" (September 9, 1991), two Larsonian type scientists called Dr. Gary and Dr. Larson are featured.[3]
  • Darkwing Duck: In the episode "Twin Beaks" (November 7, 1991), an alien cow states, "We come from the planet Larson on the Far Side of the galaxy."[4]
  • Tom Clancy, wrote in The Bear and The Dragon, "The Early Bird was the clipping service the government provided for senior officials, but for breakfast Swordsman preferred the real paper, complete with cartoons. Like many, Ryan lamented the retirement of Gary Larson and the attendant loss of the morning Far Side, but Jack understood the pressure of enforced daily output."Template:Fact
  • In The Simpsons episode "The Homega Man", Homer is in the Withstandinator bomb shelter reading Far Side comics when Springfield is destroyed. As he flips the pages of the Off The Wall Calendar he states "Oh, a Gary Larson calendar …. I don't get it, I don't get it, I don't get it, I don't get it, ha! Ha! Ha! I don't get it...".
  • In Scrubs (TV series), episode My Intern's Eyes, there is a scene in which JD fantasizes about a hospital where the patients are treated like horses and the doctors carry shotguns. This is a parody of a Far Side cartoon. JD cocks the shotgun as he says to a patient with a broken leg: "I am sorry Mr. Larson, but I do not like the look of that leg."Template:Fact
  • In Family Guy, episode 8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter, Peter buys an entire rack of greeting cards on credit and gives Meg a Far Side one of a Vulture wearing a cowboy hat which Meg says is "kind of funny". In Lois Kills Stewie, Stewie comments that his new presidential portrait is better than the one Gary Larson drew which shows him drawn in a Far Side style conversing with an anthropomorphic chicken.Template:Fact
  • In War of the Worlds (TV series) the closing credits for every episode in the first season is a reference to The Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson, courtesy of Chronicle Features. Several cutout Far Side comic strips are seen briefly in “The Resurrection”, tacked onto a bulletin board in Suzanne McCullough’s university office; however, since this is only seen in one episode, it’s unknown why the credit remains throughout the season.[5]
  • In Gilmore Girls, episode (Emily In Wonderland), Lorelai tells Rory that whenever she talks to her mother all she hears is "blah blah blah Ginger." Template:Fact
  • Australian comedians, Roy and HG, when commentating State of Origin football matches, would refer to Gary Larson (rugby league) as being "on the far side" of the playing arena - a joke aimed at his name being shared with famous cartoonist Gary Larson ("and the ball is passed to Gary Larson... on the far side...").Template:Fact
  • In his book, Dave Barry In Cyberspace, Dave Barry wrote an article titled, The Farside comes to life in Oregon which tells of a Far Side like real story of dead whale removal and large amounts of explosivies.[6]
  • The Worth1000 website for image manipulation contests has featured Far Side contests where Far Side cartoons made real[7].
  • In the Calvin's Batman Adventure episode of the Calvin And Hobbes fanfiction Calvin And Hobbes: The Series, Hobbes mentions that they once used the book transporter to go in a Far Side book.

See alsoEdit


  1. The Times cover 17-Nov-2003
  2. The Lawrence Journal-World
  3. List of Darkwing Duck characters
  4. List of Darkwing Duck characters
  5. War of The Worlds Trivia
  6. Dead Whale Removal Site and Video Link
  7. Worth 1000 Unauthorized Far Side Tributes

External linksEdit


la:The Far Side no:Larsons Gale Verden pl:The Far Side fi:Kaukana poissa sv:The Far Side