Comic Collection Review: The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson


I’m sure everyone is familiar with the single paneled classic comic The Far Side.  I include it here because they finally released a complete version of the series in a three volume set.  This has been out for years in a deluxe leather bound set as well as a hardback set both retailing for hundreds of dollars, but now it is available in a paperback set which flirts with affordable at $60 on Amazon

This strip ran for 15 years during the great resurgence of the newspaper comic in the 80’s and 90’s.  There were a lot of great comics being written and introduced during this time and The Far Side was one of the best.  It would sit down on the bottom of the page of the Washington Post comic strip page and offer something completely different in terms of humor.  Many of the comic strips of that period followed the standard three or four panel format, but Garry Larson did something completely different.  He used just one panel and offered up a sort of surreal concept which puzzled most readers who encountered it.


There were no recurring characters or streamlined art.  There was no real merchandizing concept like with Garfield or most of the other brand name strips.  It jumped around from topic to topic and offered nothing more than a surreal glimpse into the mind of Gary Larson’s humor.  It was almost a stream of consciousness type of strip in that it seemed to flow from his creative mind uninhibited by context or standard plot lines.


Some were hilariously funny, while others bordered on the strange and bizarre.  Even looking through this ultimate set, there are still some that pass over my head and I wonder at the concept he is trying to portray.  Larson took a lot of chances with his strip, he tried things that I don’t think any other comic artist would have even attempted.  His comic was so direct in it’s one panel format that there was no room for alliterations or subtlety it was all spelled out in a single glance.


Many of this comics were designed more to let the reader fill in the punch line.  Larson would lead you in the direction he wanted and then let you take over forming the other panels in you mind and taking the comic’s ultimate punch line in any direction you wanted to go.  It is a unique comic and despite many people attempting to copy his style over the years, no one has really accomplished what Larson made look so easy.

This volume is a must have for any serious collector of comics and now with the paperback version, it is finally affordable to everyone.  You may love it enough to buy the more expensive deluxe versions of the book, but this collection is perfect for the Official Root Beer Party comic library and fills in a much needed gap replacing The incomplete Far Side Galleries collections that were there before.

I highly recommend this collection to anyone who wants to see one of the great comics of our time in a complete set.  So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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