It Came From The Far Side, by Gary Larson
It’s easy to appreciate the Far Side, and if you like what you have seen in Far side books, this short book provides plenty of what you’d be looking for from it. As this book was published in 1986, it’s worthwhile to reflect at least a bit on what material was considered topical by Larson when he was writing this particular work. The author finds himself drawing pictures of dorky animals and people, which is something that he would keep up during his entire career, it must be admitted. There is also a particular interest on punks, tropes from science fiction movies like Frankenstein, and the strange absurdity that comes from pondering giant killer butterflies and wheelbarrow games where people’s heads are being ground into the mud and the funny ways of snakes, dogs, cats, rhinos, and other animals. If these ways are as funny to you as they are to many and have been to many other people, then this book is certainly well worth a read. It is also an easy enough book to appreciate having in one’s own collection when one wants a laugh, because there are surely times when one needs it.
This book is about a hundred pages long, and one can get a sense of some of the preoccupations that Larson had in the mid 1980’s when this book and its cartoons were being used. As is the case throughout Larson’s career, there is a great interest in animals and their interactions with human beings as well as each other. One of the characteristic strengths of Larson’s as a cartoonist is his rather straightforward approach in drawing figures and also in appreciating absurdity. Over and over again here we find the cartoonist seeking to combine elements of thinking and reversals that make perfect sense but that many people simply would not come to on their own. One wonders how it was that he cultivated this skill and where he got his start. Whether it is reflecting on the awkwardness of human beings and animals, or the humor of ancient history and the Old West, among other places, Larson is able to mine a great deal of humor out of situations that obviously likely never happened but that could happen in the imagination of someone who was sufficiently odd. And if you are reading this book, the odds are that you are someone who is sufficiently odd to appreciate this.