I have long been a fan of the Far Side, but I was always disappointed by the fact Gary Larson''s humor was spread out across multiple volumes, and that even if you were willing to purchase all of those books, there was no guarantee you had every one of his cartoons. When the...
I have long been a fan of the Far Side, but I was always disappointed by the fact Gary Larson''s humor was spread out across multiple volumes, and that even if you were willing to purchase all of those books, there was no guarantee you had every one of his cartoons. When the complete collection came out in hardback, I was sorely tempted to purchase it, but its high price and my college student-sized budget deterred me from placing an order. Now that I have graduated and it is available in paperback for half the price, I readily shelled out my money for a copy.
To be clear, this is an edition well worth its cost. Even though in paperback, the binding is firm and the cartoons are printed on a high quality, glossy paper. It also comes with a nice slipcase to fit the volumes in. There are three volumes in total: the first volume covers the cartoon''s first strips in 1980 through 1984, the second is from 1984 to 1988, and the final third covers 1988 to the series'' conclusion in 1994. Each volume is approximately four hundred pages in length. Needless to say, the strips are printed in chronological order, typically three or four to a page. Each year is also divided by a little essay by Larson explaining the evolution of a particular drawing or telling a humorous story relating to his craft. Because I have seen only a few interviews by him, I felt this gave the book a personal sense of the author. Also, in the earliest strips Larson would frequently draw in black-and-white (with the occasional color Sunday strip), but as time went on the cartoons increasingly became color almost every day.
As for the cartoons themselves, it is nice to finally have an official complete version. Often on the Internet there are cartoons that are visually similar to Larson and claim him as their progenitor, but if you do not see it in this book, then it is safe to assume it is a fake. The same goes for some of the cartoons that have altered coloring to try and escape copyright enforcement by Mr. Larson''s attorneys. The humor of Mr. Larson is obviously somewhat "far out" and has probably warped my own worldview, but there were many occasions in these books when I found myself laughing out loud. Mr. Larson does not aim for the lowest common denominator, so while some cartoons'' punchlines are immediately understandable, a few leave you saying, "What the...?" for a few moments before figuring it out. On one or two rare occasions, I simply had to admit defeat and move on to the next one. Fortunately, however, those occasions are rare and Mr. Larson actually includes little explanations (and sometimes hate mail) for some of his most challenging pieces. As a side note, while Mr. Larson''s humor is bizarre, I think these are actually good books for children. Mr. Larson respects his audience and uses relatively advanced scientific and historical topics as the basis for jokes on some occasions, and he avoids any vulgarity (it is a newspaper comic, after all) that would worry parents of younger kids. Most of the cartoons match the size of the originals, but a few are very slightly smaller. As a final note, the forward mentions there are over four thousand strips in this book, and you would expect the editors to have missed a few. Apparently, however, they are all there except for a few small pieces from Larson''s collection Wiener Dog Art.
If you are looking to interest a young person in cartooning, or simply looking to find a nice gift for a close friend, this is an excellent collection to buy that will guarantee its reader hours of laughs.