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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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The Accidental Cartooning Auteur

The Accidental Cartooning Auteur

The Business Side of Gary Larson’s Career

(p.143) Chapter 4 The Accidental Cartooning Auteur
Gary Larson and The Far Side

Kerry D. Soper

University Press of Mississippi

In this chapter the author looks at the business side of Larson’s career, considering how he navigated the challenges of working in this highly competitive and intensively mediated field. Using a qualified version of the auteur theory as a starting point, he posits that Larson’s success as a highly original cartoonist was contingent on his ability to protect his rights as an artist and satirist. He then assesses how Larson almost accidentally stumbled into the role of the iconoclast, but then effectively exerted the clout and independence of a genuine sateur (a satirically-minded auteur) with relative degrees of effectiveness as he negotiated contracts; interacted with syndicate bosses, newspaper editors, and reporters; made decisions about merchandising; and negotiated the pressures of celebrity. The author illustrates that it was often Larson’s lack of “professionalism” that ironically helped him—often intentionally, but sometimes unknowingly—to make decisions or enact strategies that would both protect the integrity of his work and amplify the popularity of his cartoon.

Keywords:   Cartooning auteur, Syndication, Cartoon merchandising, Artist rights, Artist contracts

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