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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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Absurdly Naturalistic

Absurdly Naturalistic

The Cultural Significance of The Far Side

(p.183) Chapter 5 Absurdly Naturalistic
Gary Larson and The Far Side

Kerry D. Soper

University Press of Mississippi

In this chapter the author assesses the cultural significance of Larson’s work within the closing decades of the twentieth century. To do this, he does the following: questions traditional views of newspapers cartoons as ephemeral gags that lacked semiotic weight; speculates on the level of emotional and intellectual investment of Far Side fans that collected, shared, clipped out, and posted favorite installments—and often proudly purchased and displayed Far Side paraphernalia like t-shirts and coffee mugs; and considers ways of thinking about The Far Side as a sprawling, micro-serialized, years-long text that included over 4,300 installments. He concludes by highlighting the satiric bite and philosophical depth of Larson’s work as a whole, suggesting that his most devoted to readers were prompted to develop critical ways of perceiving society, human behavior, and other mainstream cultural texts through the worldviews of naturalism, absurdism and the carnivalesque. Recollections from comedy professionals and every day fans are highlighted to support these conclusions.

Keywords:   Comedy professionals, Satiric cartoons, Philosophical cartoons, Comics fans, Cultural significance of comics

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