After a 25-year hibernation, the beloved comic strip The Far Side returned Tuesday with a revamped website, unseen sketches and the promise of new comics in the future.
In September, cartoonist Gary Larson hinted on the long-dormant Far Side website that the comic would reappear in 2019 in some capacity; “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming,” the previously barren website hinted.
In addition to the updated website — which for now features a “daily dose” of previously published works and a curated collection that brings together old comics thematically, a notable improvement considering the cartoonist spent decades actively keeping The Far Side off the Internet — Larson also gave the New York Times a rare interview where he mapped out his goals for TheFarSide.com.
“I’m not ‘back,’ at least in the sense I think you’re asking,” Larson told the Times of The Far Side, which ran from January 1st, 1980 to December 31st, 1994. “Returning to the world of deadlines isn’t exactly on my to-do list.”
Following the end of The Far Side’s 15-year run in 1994, Larson says he completely stopped drawing cartoons except for the occasional Christmas card; however, after purchasing a digital tablet, he was reinvigorated artistically. “Lo and behold, within moments I found myself having fun drawing again,” Larson admitted.
While the website — launching in time for the strip’s 40th anniversary — will primarily serve as a place for Larson’s previous cartoons, “I’m looking forward to slipping in some new things every so often.” (In the interview, Larson also discussed the infamous “Cow Tools” comic that ran in 1982.)
In a long letter to fans written in September 2019 but posted Tuesday, Larson elaborated on why he was apprehensive about letting The Far Side exist on the Internet. “Back then, the Internet was a cute little Internet-ling, its cold, digital eyes just starting to open. The first website (I just looked this up) debuted only a couple years prior to my retirement, Google came along several years later, and Facebook was launched a full decade after I had drawn my last cow. Meaning, like most of my generation, I was pretty much clueless about this new technology that was on the rise,” Larson wrote.
“But as the digital world gathered speed, I was as excited as most of us who lived outside the tech world (and back then, as a cartoonist, you couldn’t get much further outside of tech unless maybe you were a coal miner) and were seeing all these amazing tools unfold,” he added. “Tools to help us better communicate, write, explore and learn. (Of course, soon to be adding hack, steal, exploit, deceive, bully and maybe destroy democracy, but hey, what’re a few wrinkles? We’ll figure this out. Or not.) Naively, I now realize, I never once foresaw any connection between this emergent technology and my cartoons.”
Larson continued, “I’m hopeful this official website will help temper the impulses of the infringement-inclined. Please, whoever you are, taketh down my cartoons and let this website become your place to stop by for a smile, a laugh, or a good ol’ fashioned recoiling. And I won’t have to release the Krakencow.”