There were two comic strips in the paper that I followed intently when I was growing up in the 80’s, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Both strips are fantastic and legendary, but the Far Side pushed some serious boundaries during the strips time.
The Far Side ran from December 31, 1979 to January 1, 1995 . The one panel strip blended surreal and weird improbable events, the use of anthropomorphic animals that commented on uncomfortable social situations and world views, and meditations on the meaning of life, The strip was hilarious, macabre, weird, confusing, and occasionally controversial, and I love it.
Reading the comics section of the paper was part of my daily routine to get my Far Side fix. My father was a fan also and we would always share a laugh or a comment each morning about the days new strip. That was one of many of my favorite father and son things that we did. My friends and I talked about the strip at school, especially when we didn’t get the joke. We had teachers that were fans and we would discuss the strip with them. The strip was just one of those cultural phenomena that was shared by many.
I can remember being absolutely bummed out when Larson decided to retire the strip, a part of my long standing morning routine was coming to an end. Calvin and Hobbes had ended a day before on December 31, 1995, so it was a double whammy for me. After The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes were cancelled I have followed very few strips in the paper and I don’t check them out every day. My current favorite is Lio by Mark Tatulli.
I was such a fan that every Christmas I would get the new desk calendar from my parents. That tradition continued up to the last one that was published, I was in my 30’s when that happened, I stared reading the Far Side when I was 11. For the love of God Gary start printing calendars again!
On December 17, 2019 the Far Side web page was relaunched with the possibility of new material, but offering a daily dose of Far Side cartoons. If you are looking for weird, thought provoking and sometimes offensive comedy the Far Side is a great choice and the website is a good place to start. Seriously, go check it out!