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Gary Larson and The Far Side$
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Kerry D. Soper

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781496817280

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496817280.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 14 July 2020

The Accidental Cartoonist

The Accidental Cartoonist

Larson’s Life and Career

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter 1 The Accidental Cartoonist
Source:
Gary Larson and The Far Side
Author(s):

Kerry D. Soper

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496817280.003.0002

Chapter one is about Gary Larson’s life and career. First, the author looks into Larson’s childhood in Tacoma, Washington, tracing the connections between his unconventional upbringing and the themes and jokes in his later cartoons. He then charts Larson’s circuitous route towards a career in newspaper cartoons through a number of diversions and dead ends; the story of his ultimate break into comics in 1980 is especially fascinating since it was achieved with so little awareness on Larson’s part of what kind of profession he was pursuing. The author continues by tracing the initially slow, but eventually exponential growth of the panel’s popularity, highlighting along the way many of the accolades, controversies, and stand out cartoons of Larson’s career. I addition, the chapter highlights his arrival as a culturally significant figure through several key achievements: the ubiquity of his book collections and merchandising material, the unprecedented amount of fan and hate mail he received, and the way his work was embraced so avidly by niche reading communities such as scientists and academics. The chapter concludes with a description of how Larson decided to retire The Far Side after only a fifteen-year run (while it was still popular) in order to go out on a high note and preserve his own sanity.

Keywords:   Newspaper comics, Syndication, Comics merchandising, Naturalist, Scientific worldview

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