arts

'Far Side' cartoonist Gary Larson publishes first new work in 25 years

Updated 9th July 2020
Credit: Gary Larson/FarWorks, Inc
'Far Side' cartoonist Gary Larson publishes first new work in 25 years
Written by Kiely Westhoff, CNN
"Enter if you dare," is the message on Gary Larson's website challenging people to explore his new content. "The Far Side" cartoonist surprised fans this week when he published never-before-seen comics for the first time in 25 years.
However, the comics he released Tuesday are a bit different than Larson's previous works. The "New Stuff" is not the classic pen and ink comics that his followers are familiar with. Larson says on his website that his most recent creations are "the result of my journey into the world of digital art."
He retired in 1995, citing "fatigue and fear that if I continue for many more years my work will begin to suffer, or at the very least ease into the Graveyard of Mediocre Cartoons," according to a statement at the time.
Larson, who launched his website only last year, says that in retirement he enjoyed the freedom to cartoon infrequently and without deadlines, and explore other interests.
Cartoonist Gary Larson pictured in 1985.
Cartoonist Gary Larson pictured in 1985. Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP
The 69-year-old credits a clogged pen for inspiring his return to the industry. On the occasions Larson would sit down to draw, he says on his website, it became a ritual of "cursing at, and then cleaning out, my clogged pen." So a few years ago, he decided to rebel against the "traitorous" pen by experimenting with a digital tablet.
"I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again." Larson says he was stunned by all the tools and "creative potential it contained."
He warns his fans that the products of his digital rebirth are not a "resurrection" of "The Far Side." The single-panel cartoon first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1980 and ran for 15 years until Larson retired. The famous cartoon was featured in nearly 2,000 newspapers and 40 million books, sold 77 million calendars and been translated into more than 17 languages, according to the longtime publisher Andrews McMeel Universal, which hosts Larson's website.
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"The Far Side" fans had an appetite for Larson's peculiar humor, and it grew to be one of the most beloved cartoons of its time. The "New Stuff" certainly has its own brand, but Larson's unmistakable style is still present. The first fresh works he premiered depict four bears picnicking on Cub Scouts, a man hailing a taxidermist and two aliens out hunting and planning a "probe and release" of a man approaching in a truck.
Fans are already liking and commenting on his "Daily Dose" of cartoons on the website, eager for the new content to continue.
Larson says he wants to remind everyone that he's "just exploring, experimenting, and trying stuff." He says he does not know where his digital journey will take him, but he is grateful to that clogged pen for sending him on this adventure.