The world of having a sensible chuckle was rocked this summer when the official website of The Far Side was updated for the first time in a couple of decades. A cryptic image — an arctic explorer thawing one of Gary Larson’s unmistakable bipedal cows out of an iceberg — promised that “a new online era of The Far Side is coming!”
That era is here. TheFarSide.com is now an online home for the beloved cartoon, and potentially a place for new installments of it. The site will feature a selection of Far Side cartoons, refreshed daily, as well as a look inside Larson’s sketchbooks. And Larson told the New York Times that he’s “looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.”
Larson’s The Far Side ran daily from 1979 through 1995, at one time publishing in more than 1,900 newspapers. Unlike most of its ilk, the one-panel strip eschewed recurring characters and ran the gamut of subjects, readers could be in for wordplay one day, scientific quippery another, and total absurdity the next.
In a letter on the new site’s About page, Larson explains his initial wariness of the growing power of the internet, which he had never really connected with his own print cartoons.
“When I slowly started realizing I had a second publisher and distributor of my work,” he writes, “known as Anyone With a Scanner & Associates, I did find it unsettling enough to write an open letter to “whom it may concern,” explaining — best as I could — why I preferred that the people doing this would kindly refrain [...] it’s always been inherently awkward to chase down a Far Side–festooned website when the person behind it is often simply a fan. (Although not everyone is quite so uncomplicated in their motives; my cartoons have been taken and used to help sell everything from doughnuts to rodent control. At least I offer range.)”
Larson says that his feelings changed as both online security and as digital art tools improved. After retiring, he told the New York Times, he rarely drew — until he discovered drawing with digital tablets. The Times article includes a couple of recently crafted images from Larson.