Gary Larson was born August 14, 1950, in Tacoma, Washington. Always drawn to nature, he and his older brother spent much of their youth exploring the woods and swamps of the Pacific Northwest, and the tidelands and waters of Puget Sound. (Kind of makes sense).
Larson’s iconic Far Side cartoons were syndicated in more than 1,900 daily newspapers from 1980 to 1995, treating readers to daily offerings from his offbeat visions of the world.
In those fifteen years, The Far Side went from garnering controversy to becoming one of the most beloved cartoons of its time.
In one of his most famous cartoons, a female chimpanzee finds a blonde hair in her mate’s fur, and asks him: “Been doing more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?” (Goodall approved.)
"What’s your favorite depiction of yourself in pop culture? Oh, a Gary Larson with two chimps grooming, and the female chimp pulling off this hair from the male and saying, “Been doing more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?"
The popularity of the Far Side was so much so that it spawned twenty-three ‘The Far Side’ books, including sixteen collections, five anthologies, and two retrospectives, twenty-two of which appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Over the years, more than forty million books and seventy-seven million calendars have been sold, and The Far Side has been translated into more than seventeen languages.
The Far Side series offers a deep dive into Gary’s offbeat sense of humor with an ever-changing, random selection of cartoons.
His cartoons have been taken and used to help sell everything from doughnuts to rodent control. “At least I offer range” he jokes.
Yet his intentions were much simpler when he began…
"I just wanted to be able to pay my rent. Beyond reaching that goal I really didn’t care much. I was doing something I loved, getting by, and that’s what mattered."
Larson’s work on The Far Side has earned him numerous awards, including the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 1990 and 1994.
In 1994, Larson debuted a twenty-two-minute version of his first animated film, Gary Larson’s Tales From The Far Side, as a Halloween special on CBS television, and it quickly became a cult favorite.
It’s been a long time since he decided to retire his trusty pen but fans of the surreal and bizarre cows can now get their daily dose.
When he first began, the Internet was a cute little Internet-ling, its cold, digital eyes just starting to open, and back then, as a cartoonist, you couldn’t get much further outside of tech unless maybe you were a coal miner.
For some perspective, Facebook was launched a full decade after he had sadly drawn his last cow.
He attributes much of his success to the caffeine in the coffee he drinks daily. Which may explain the following quote from the man himself…
"You know those little snow globes that you shake up? I always thought my brain was sort of like that. You know, where you just give it a shake and watch what comes out and shake it again."
Gary Larson: Once a Cartoonist, Forever a Wingless Insect.