Bride Of The Far Side, by Gary Larson
This book was certainly one of the earlier collections of Far Side works, being published in 1985 with material going back all the way to 1980. And one of the striking aspects of seeing the Far Side, especially when you read and review a lot of his works at the same time, is just how consistent he was in terms of his approach as a cartoonist. This does not mean to say that he was not original and creative when it came to designing cartoons, it is just that there were some wells that he came to over and over again in terms of situations that he found to be absurdly funny and that he trusted (accurately) would be entertaining to his audience. Whether that includes the dumb (bad) luck of a pilot and a co-pilot of a commercial jet both losing their contacts at the same time in a plane that seems certain to crash and burn, or a dog pretending to be an old woman appreciating someone helping a cat from a tree, or people being squashed by elephants, similar moments and similar creatures find themselves being drawn by Larson over and over again, and that is something that his audience certainly came to appreciate.
Looking at the range of what Gary Larson drew about, it is striking that a few subjects seem to have caught his eye over and over again. Dinosaurs, for example, are pretty funny. Forest animals are pretty funny, and the author is fond of drawing birds, elephants, and prehistoric man. For a variety of reasons, heaven and hell are subjects that the author finds amusing, as well as the comic portrayal of death in the abstract or implied, but not in the gruesomely detailed. After all, the Far Side, for all of its quirkiness, has always been a family friendly cartoon and that means that some things must be implied or hinted but not said outright, including the peril that results from some of the hi-jinks that are in the cartoons, or would if such situations were around in the real world. Of course it is a lot easier to laugh at this book and the other cartoons by Larson because they are suitably unfamiliar and in an obviously fictional world and mindset. It would likely be a lot less funny to laugh at such situations that would lead to an untimely if entertaining demise if they occurred for real. But one of the hallmarks of a genuinely funny person is getting someone to laugh at things that would not be funny if they happened, but can be funny when put into the right context that does not include one’s own suffering.