The Curse Of Madam “C”: A Far Side Collection, by Gary Larson
One thing that separates this particular collection of Gary Larson from many other Far Side collections, and certainly makes this a worthwhile one to read for fans who are familiar with the many galleries and collections of Far Side cartoons that exist, is the frame story that begins this particular book. While the origin account provided here is more than a little bit nonsensical, it is also entertaining and highly creative, as Larson imagines himself as being a young cartoonist who fails to heed warnings and finds himself cursed to draw about cows by someone when all he wanted to do was draw cats. Given that this particular collection was made in 1994, it was before the popularity of memes and lolcats from the World Wide Web, and it certainly is a prescient and deeply entertaining look at someone who wanted to portray themselves as creating under a curse and making cows seem more alien and more dangerous than they really are. As one of the most important aspects of humor and creativity is making the familiar alien and the alien familiar, this approach is certainly a good one and something that allows the reader to appreciate what Larson is able to accomplish in this small volume.
Aside from the titular beginning to the book that gives the story of the mysterious bovine Madam “C,” this book offers precisely what you would expect from a Far side collection. Whether one is looking at Daffy’s resume and not very observant detectives or scary peanuts and a bird on vacation still in a cage–something I can identify with all too strongly in these covid times–the drawings here are as humorous and poignant as they ever have been. Even after more than a decade of making Far Side cartoons this book shows Larson still able to draw humor out of a suite of situations, including anthropomorphizing plants and animals as well as showing the absurdity that is in ordinary human life as well as plausible if ridiculous scenarios in the world around us. Human beings and animals and plants are at least potentially ridiculous and that leads to a lot of chances for us to laugh at what is going on around us, and that laughter powers this book and Larson’s work as a whole. If you have gotten to this book, the odds are that you have read a lot of Far Side calendars already and are a fan, and if so, good for you.