Given the vast catalog of Far Side panels from the strip’s long run, some absolute gems are bound to fall out of circulation..but not forever.
The Far Side
, an influential syndicated comic strip by creator Gary Larson, which was known for its bizarre humor, deserves more recognition on the internet, as its humor style perfectly fits contemporary meme culture.
comics tackle societal issues like animal entertainment and commercialism through witty and thought-provoking panels, with many entries accruing in relevance over the years.
- Gary Larson’s use of surrealism and unexpected elements in his comics creates a unique and engaging experience for readers to scroll across in their social media feeds.
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The Far Side by Gary Larson, which ran as a syndicated comic strip in newspapers from 1979 to 1995, almost feels like it was designed to be shared in the social media age – given its single-panel style, its tendency toward brevity, and most crucially, its truly bizarre sense of humor. While many readers are likely familiar with some viral Far Side images, so much of the series’ true gold has yet to saturate the internet.
It is natural that Far Side comics find renewed popularity on the internet all the time, though considering the series’ long run, there are always more to uncover and bring to the attention of the masses once more. For every panel that seems to pop up in readers’ feeds constantly, there are three, or even five more that haven’t been overshared yet – but probably deserve to be. Below are ten examples of Far Side installments that have at least one, if not more, of the indelible qualities that would make the internet pop for them, serving as non-sequitur interludes in readers’ usual social media fare.
Related: 10 Funniest Far Side Comics That Break the Fourth Wall
10 “Toaster Divers of Pago Pago”
(Original publication date: 5/1/87)
In a twist on real life pearl divers, The Far Side illustrates the seemingly more banal, but likely just as profitable, means for members of a community – in this case, Larson sets the panel in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa – to use their environment to their advantage: the profession of toaster diving. Toaster diving, if it were real, would likely be a fascinating exercise to behold, as skilled swimmers braved the pressures of the deep to retrieve their submerged, naturally-occurring appliances, presumably to sell to large retailers. Imagining a world where 20th-century convenience technology grows in the wild would definitely capture the imaginations of many internet users.
The cartoon is likely a reference to the 1940 film South of Pago Pago.
9 “Catch Willie (And Make Him Do Tricks)”
(Original publication date: 4/29/94)
A reference to the classic 1993 Disney film Free Willy, featuring a plucky young boy and his quest to free a captive orca, Gary Larson’s Far Side instead indicts the entertainment demands of the American public as less-than-honorable. The panel depicts a man buying a ticket for a movie, with the marquee above him advertising the film as, Catch Willie And Make Him Do Tricks, perhaps leading the reader to consider the ethical implications of using live animals for entertainment purposes – something socially-conscious contemporary audiences would certainly understand, and quickly relate to, upon scrolling past this cartoon, which has only become more relevant with age.
Related: “It Was Cruel, Stupid, and Ridiculous”: 10 Most Controversial Far Side Comics Ever
8 “The Birth Of Acid Howl”
(Original publication date: 10/25/87)
A night on the prairie, under a moonlit, star-brightened sky, is itself an alien experience not without its own psychedelic wonder. In The Far Side, Larson imagines this classic scene of the American Old West as the beginning of a new culture: the culture of mind-blowing rock music. His audience may not understand the nuance of his work, but the wolf rocker character unleashes a different side of the lupine mind, one rife with existential truth, and lonesome romanticism. Larson’s dedicated color scheme adds an eye-grabbing touch to this panel; while many Far Side strips don’t feature color, those that do make especially keen use of it, as is the case here.
7 “A Scene From Giraffes IV”
(Original publication date: 10/10/88)
From Them to Jaws to Cujo, violent swarms of feral beasts have long been stock fodder for classic cinematic monster madness. However, in The Far Side, it’s always the creatures one least expects that end up being the true danger. This is the case with this panel, the caption of which informs readers the image is a “scene from Giraffes IV,” the third sequel in the fictional Giraffes franchise. The drawing features a scene of utter chaos, as several angry giraffes lay their wrath upon the beleaguered citizenry of a doomed city. The idea of the giraffes using their long necks to attack high-rise buildings provides a surreal touch to a silly idea.
Related: 10 Funniest Far Side Comics That Reference Iconic Movies
6 “The Epitome Of Evil (Amongst Butterfly Catchers)”
(Original publication date: 12/23/87)
Just as every field has its heroes, so too does it have its villains, and two roving lepidopterists come face-to-face with the arch nemesis of their particular world, the apparently wicked Professor DeArmond. This fiendish character, clearly gladdened by his dark reputation preceding him, would seem to fit the bill of the stock villain, with his black clothes and evil smile. The strip’s bizarre specificity – “he’s the epitome of evil amongst butterfly hunters” – is perfectly in line with contemporary internet niche humor, having the tenor of a TikTok skit, or one of the increasingly popular subgenre of meme, the “humorous fictional dialogue tweet”.
5 “And Down Here We Keep Fluffy”
(Original publication date: 8/18/93)
Unfortunately for the family of Fluffy, the deranged poodle, it does not appear any intervention would solve a full break from conventional reality. The true hilarity of this Far Side panel comes from the hesitant terms the dog’s owners use when describing an utterly unhinged scene: “we’re afraid he may have gone mad.” Uproariously, the scene in the family’s basement leaves no room for this kind of uncertainty. It is unclear what motivates Fluffy to build a death machine in the image of himself while secreted in the confines of his elderly owner’s house, but the look of insane malice in his bloodshot eyes does little to assuage any concern.
Related: 10 Funniest Far Side Comics That Reference Classic Cartoons
4 “Everything Was Starting To Come Into Focus For Farmer McDougal”
(Original publication date: 11/18/91)
Trying to fit in due to social pressure is a tale as old as time, but, for Farmer MacDougal, it appears that his border collie Shep may have fallen in with the wrong crowd. A hilarious case of throwing the audience into the middle of the action, this Far Side stands out in large part because readers can feel the comically tense, shocking revelation MacDougal undergoes, as it gradually dawns upon him that his faithful pet may actually be undermining him. His dog palling around with a pack of ravenous wolves, his missing sheep, and some of his missing beer thrown in for good effort, are signifiers that MacDougal’s problems are likely only beginning.
3 “Inconvenience Stores”
(Original Publication Date: 4/18/90)
A simple joke for a simple cartoon, “Inconvenience Stores” is in many ways the height of The Far Side’s humor, eschewing the common convenience store for some kind of purposefully frustrating shopping experience. The idea that this would be a kind of stark inversion of modern commercialism – a store in which it would be nearly impossible to even reach the items one went to the store in pursuit of – strikes a heavily satirical tone contemporary readers would appreciate. As if this circumstance is the true end of a capitalist system, a place where even easily attainable amenities are now blocked by meaningless obstacles.
Related: 10 Funniest Far Side Comics That Only Use 2 Words
2 “The Hardy Boys Crack The Iran-Contra Scandal”
(Original publication date: 12/14/92)
The Iran-Contra Affair was a secret arms deal perpetuated by the United States government, in which the proceeds from arms covertly sold to Iran would be used to fund the right-wing Contra faction of Nicaragua. In a goofy conversion of pop culture and politics, The Far Side reveals that it was actually boy detectives, the Hardy Boys. Originated by author Edward Stratemeyer, and penned by the pseudonym Frank L. Dixon, brothers Frank and Joe have riveted young readers for years with their daring mystery-solving adventures. In this instance, however, their adventure in the Pirate’s Cove has led them earnestly down a rabbit hole that has found them testifying before Congress, in an uncharacteristically verbose Far Side installment.
1 “Scene From a Corporate Fairy Tale”
(Original publication date: 10/3/87)
In the best not yet overshared Far Side, a group sitting at a business meeting are interrupted by a grinning big bad wolf. There is no explanation as to what the wolf is doing there, as in what his role in this fairy tale might be, but he cuts a menacing figure. His entrance upon the scene, no doubt as a kind of primordial symbol of the wanton violence of nature set against the strict, orderly confinement of the typical modern business, brings with it a swell of doubt, confusion and also bewilderment. These are, of course, the drawbacks of any capitalist enterprise, highlighted by Gary Larson’s The Far Side in a perfect mash-up of non-sequitur elements.
The Far Side
The Far Side is a humorous comic series developed by Gary Larson. The series has been in production since 1979 and features a wide array of comic collections, calendars, art, and other miscellaneous items.
Writer Gary Larson Colorist Gary Larson
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