iPad Brings Back Gary Larson’s The Far Side

image credit: The Washington Post

By Chand Bellur

July 9, 2020 at 3:33 p.m. PT

  • Gary Larson created the surrealist, single-panel comic strip, The Far Side, back in 1979.
  • Larson retired from cartoon creation in 1995.
  • After using an iPad and Apple Pencil, Larson returned to cartoon creation, bringing The Far Side back to life.

The Far Side is Back!

Surrealist cartoonist Gary Larson never died, despite a few rumors suggesting his demise. Like many successful people, he retired and left on a high note. Many fans of The Far Side lamented over Larson’s retirement; however, technology brought his beloved comic strip back to audiences worldwide.

The Far Side is a surreal and often absurd comic strip where nature sometimes rebels against humanity. One of Larson’s recent cartoons depicts bears eating Cub Scouts. Using the actual art to convey humor, rather than relying on captions and dialog, you have to see his cartoons to appreciate and laugh at them. Larson has the unique ability to address morbid topics cutely and humorously.

Larson’s off-beat humor made it challenging to break into the cartoon business. His work, originally titled Nature’s Way, found its first home in The Seattle Times. Numerous complaints about the cartoon forced Larson to look for another newspaper for publication.

While on vacation in San Francisco, he pitched his work to the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper loved it and eventually syndicated it as The Far Side. Larson’s beloved single-panel comic strip was a fixture in newspapers across the globe for 15 years.

iPad and Apple Pencil Brought The Far Side Back

Larson’s return to The Far Side, after a 25-year absence, is a remarkable tale. Apart from drawing the family’s annual Christmas card, Larson pretty much avoided creating anything with pen and paper. When his beloved Radiograph X500 pen clogged due to lack of use, he picked up an iPad and Apple pencil.

Falling in love with the device, Larson was inspired to revisit The Far Side. The revered comic strip is back, with new work appearing regularly.

Larson’s new work is clearly different from the hand-drawn cartoon. Using many of the illustration tools available on the iPad, his latest work looks more realistic, yet Larson’s absurd and surrealist predilections still shine through. The colors are more vibrant and luminous than with past illustrations. Those with overwhelming nostalgiac tendencies may dislike his newest artwork; however, Larson’s ability to integrate humor into the medium remains remarkably masterful.

Gary Larson Chooses the Web Over Social Media

Larson’s newest works aren’t available in newspapers or print publications. Instead, the popular cartoonist turned to a medium he once shunned — the World Wide Web.

Famous for asking websites to remove The Far Side, Larson now embraces the Web as a way to distribute his quirky vision of reality. Unlike so many other creative types, he didn’t fall for the seduction of social media. Although you can find his work on Instagram, it’s not official. Many fans redistribute The Far Side without permission; however, his newest work is available for free on his website.

If you enjoy the work of Gary Larson, don’t rip him off and don’t post The Far Side on your website or social media profile. Larson has already set up a central location where you can view his comic strip for free. Supported with minimal advertisements, Larson’s return to The Far Side is sure to please die-hard fans while breeding a whole new generation of enthusiasts.

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