The man who created the Far Side
Gary Larson is one of the most famous contemporary cartoonists. He was born in Tacoma Washington in August 14, 1950.
He is the creator of The Far Side, a series of cartoons published by numerous newspapers around the world.
The Far Side is a strip composed of a single cartoon, often but not always accompanied by a caption that serves as a description. It is considered by many to be the best one cartoon series ever published. The themes of the cartoons are based on totally surreal comparisons between human and animal behaviour, often exchanging points of view and relegating man to an “inferior” species.
From the description of what cows do when they are not observed by men, to the dangers of being an insect, to the father of a family who – in a house surrounded by fences and other houses – explains to his son that the singing of birds is a normal way with which an inferior animal marks its own territory.
In 1985 Gary Larson received a prestigious award: having given the name to a new insect species, the Strigiphilus garylarsoni, a chewing louse Larson said he considered it “a great honor”. Also, I knew that no one was going to write me to ask me to give my name to a new species of swan. You must seize these opportunities when they arise. “
The thagomizer – the group of 4-6 spines on the stegosaurs’ tail – owes its name to Gary Larson. The name, used for the first time in his cartoon, was in fact adopted by the American paleontologist community, becoming an anatomical term in all respects.
One of Larson’s most famous cartoons shows two gorillas gazing at each other. One of them finds a human hair on the other and sarcastically asks: “Have you done any more research with that Jane Goodall?” The Jane Goodall Institute protested and – through its lawyers – had the author and his syndication receive a letter in which the cartoon was called “an atrocity”.
The institute was however put in difficulty by the Goodall itself, which instead declared to have found the cartoon funny . Since then, all the profits from the rights to that cartoon have been donated to the Jane Goodall Institute. Goodall then wrote a preface for the collection The Far Side Gallery 5, explaining the terms of the controversy and praising The Far Side for creativity, which often comes from the comparison and contrast between human and animal behavior. Larson also wrote in detail about the controversy in The Pre History of the Far Side.
In the episode “The book job” of “The Simpsons”, there is a quote from one of the Far Side cartoons: the real reason why the dinosaurs became extinct.
Larson married in 1987 Toni Carmichael, an anthropologist. Early in their relationship, Carmichael became his manager. Larson said “She’s my Pit Bull, but she’s a nice one.”
Larson plays jazz guitar and took lessons from jazz guitarists Remo Palmieri and Herb Ellis. He also drew the cover of the 1988 released album Doggin ‘Around by Herb Ellis and Red Mitchell.