The Far Side is a single-panel comic created by Gary Larson and syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, which ran from January 1, 1980, to January 1, 1995. Its surrealistic humor is often based on uncomfortable social situations, improbable events, an anthropomorphic view of the world, logical fallacies, impending bizarre disasters, (often twisted) references to proverbs, or the search for meaning in life. Larson’s frequent use of animals and nature in the comic is popularly attributed to his background in biology. Reruns are still printed in many newspapers.
The Far Side was ultimately carried by more than 1,900 daily newspapers, translated into 17 languages, and collected into calendars and 23 compilation books.
The series was preceded by a similar panel called Nature’s Way, also by Larson.
Most The Far Side cartoons are a single rectangular panel, occasionally split into small sections of four, six, or eight for the purposes of a storyline. A caption or dialogue usually appears under the panel as typed text, although word-balloons are sometimes used for conversations. Sunday comics were double-sized, done in watercolor or colored pencils, with captions handwritten in Larson’s own hand. Most of Larson’s comics relied on some combination of a visual and verbal gag, rather than just one or the other. Some recurring themes in the comic include people being stranded on desert islands, aliens, heaven, hell, and the life of cavemen. Many cartoons focused on animals, especially cows, bears, dogs, flies, and ducks. Notably, virtually all characters portrayed in the comic were overweight or obese, and usually wearing glasses. In addition, unless needed for a facial or comic expression, eyes are almost never drawn and characters usually show only a brow ridge.
Larson was recognized for his work on the strip with the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for 1985 and 1988, and with their Reuben Award for 1990 and 1994.
The Complete Far Side and The Prehistory of The Far Side include letters from angry readers alongside the comics. The letters were written to newspaper publishers and often demanded the removal of The Far Side. Despite these protests, The Far Side remained popular and continued to run in many newspapers. Larson himself often laughs at the controversies as evidenced in The Prehistory of The Far Side, in which he writes that the people complaining have usually misunderstood the cartoon.
Complete Far Side v1 1980-1986 (large file 250mb)
Complete far Side v2 1986-1994 (large file 241mb)