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‘The Far Side’ Cartoonist Gary Larson Returns After 25 Years, Just In Time For 2020

The comics landscape has fundamentally shifted since the day the newspapers died, but one of the masters of the golden era of newspaper comics, Gary Larson, has returned to the scene. 

Larson has embraced the digital age, publishing new The Far Side comics online— but don’t expect the regularity of his classic strips. Larson has made it clear that his new incarnation of The Far Side is free from the burden of deadlines, along with all the other restrictions and pressures of traditional publication. Larson is also making his old strips available online, along with his sketches.

Looking back on those classic strips, The Far Side has aged remarkably well, likely because Larson didn’t rely on pop culture references and cultural trends for inspiration; his insights into the life of cows, humans, and everything else in-between were a surreal window into Larson’s world, reflecting our own in the abstract.

Amidst the unrelenting horrors of 2020, perhaps a few silly comic strips concerning cows is exactly what we need to keep our minds off … everything.  

But Larson’s art has been fermenting for 25 years, and has changed in the process, returning with a vibrant, glossy coat of digital paint. An annoying, fiddly pen seems response for Larson’s reluctance to fully return to cartooning, but he has since rediscovered his inspiration through the magic of touchscreen technology:

“So a few years ago—finally fed up with my once-loyal but now reliably traitorous pen—I decided to try a digital tablet,” Larson wrote on his website. “I knew nothing about these devices but hoped it would just get me through my annual Christmas card ordeal. I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again.

“I was stunned at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I simply had no idea how far these things had evolved. Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I drew was a caveman.”

There’s something comforting about the familiarity of Larson’s latest work; it offers just the right amount of nostalgia, while still feeling unique and fresh. It will certainly be interesting to see how Larson’s newfound creative freedom transforms The Far Side, in the coming months. 

Now, all we’re missing is the return of Bill Watterson with Calvin and Hobbes.

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