Valley Of The Far Side, by Gary Larson
Published in 1985, this one is of the many works that has been written and collected from Larson’s entertaining cartoons, this time from 1984 and 1985. And as is the case with other volumes of his cartoons, there are consistent themes and approaches that carried on throughout his entire body of work that are well worth appreciating and that are very entertaining to the reader who is familiar with his work and with his approach. Odd animals and people, cavemen and their ways, and explorations into odd and absurd situations abound in these pages and this is a work that, if one is fond of the Far Side (and what other reason would you be reading this book), you will find much to enjoy here. Although it was obviously not a gig that could last forever, as it is probably immensely hard to cultivate new and odd ideas for so many years as a cartoonist, these drawings show Larson in his prime and able to provoke thought and reflection as well as plenty of laughs. And if you are a fan of the Far Side and are not as familiar with the author’s earlier work, this book is an easy way to make oneself familiar with that work.
As might be expected, this book shows the author engaged in the sort of work that he became very familiar with, and already by the mid 1980’s he was already a very well-known and well-beloved cartoonist for his quirky drawings in one box of ridiculous but entertaining scenarios. Puns, clowns, desert islands, cavemen exploring the invention of dessert, musical performers, all are fodder for the author’s odd worldview. It would be nice to know where it is that the author got his ideas from. It is quite likely that aside from having an active imagination that Larson was apt at taking inspiration from reading–and it is clear that he read widely and imaginatively as well–as well as from social observation. With a fondness for awkward people, animals, and situations, the humor in this book is anything but subtle but comes with a warmth of interest in animals and people as beings with dreams and hopes and frustrations and lots of quirks that can be exploited for laughs, as they are here to such good effect. The odds are high if you are reading this book that you know and appreciate the effect of a good laugh from an absurd Far Side cartoon.