37 Comments

  1. I would have thought (well, “hoped”) that Larson could live fairly comfortably on the residuals from his books and other Far Side accessories. If that’s still true, then maybe he’s resurrecting the strip to publish a new set of cartoons that he has had 24 years to edit and perfect. That could be good. However, if he’s doing this because the money is running out, then this is definitely not a good idea.

  2. Larson seems to care for his art a great deal, so hopefully he just misses the creative process and has had a lot of time to concoct some great comics rather than reemerging simply to chase the almighty dollar.

    However, whatever his intentions, comebacks don’t always go well. Even a mediocre comeback seems to be ten times as bad if the original was ground-breaking and cherished, a category The Far Side falls into. Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of examples of this: The Exorcist II, The Next Karate Kid, and Blues Brothers 2000 (I’m having trouble thinking of comic strip comebacks), although I’m sure there are many, many more.

    Hopefully he can pull it off, but I’m skeptical.

  3. I have to agree with chipchristian about Breathed, but the most serious defect in the current version of “Bloom County” is the irregular publishing schedule (and Breathed’s misbegotten preferential treatment of Facebook). On the other hand, now that Bloom County is an irregular webcomic, Breathed has the freedom to release items whenever he has them ready, and to use whatever format he likes, which it a big advantage. Even if his overall batting average is a bit below the original strip, it is still far superior to his previous substitutes (“Opus” and “Outland”).

  4. Alas, I think “Bloom County” had declined from its peaks by the time Breathed went to Sundays only. I’d’ve loved a return to the early-80’s peak-Bloom, but I don’t think he recaptured the full glory. (I’m not in MY early-8o’s peak form, either.)

  5. “Berk Breathed never reached his former heights.” I have to agree with chipchristina and Kilby on this one. Some folks do not completely return to star form. We shall see. In today’s economy, my cost of viewing his new work? Nada, it will be on the Internet :^)

  6. I think cartoon success also depends on Zeitgeist. It was ok then, but the times (context) have changed: it might not work today.

  7. Larson was a bit like a pitcher who only threw a fastball, but oh what a fastball it was. Fortunately, age does not necessarily dull one’s sense of humor the way it does a fastball, so Larson may well be alright. He had a great gift for finding humor in poking and deconstructing the generally-shared and broadly-American cultural experience. I would worry, perhaps, that he may struggle to connect with (younger) readers if he hasn’t kept abreast of how that cultural experience has changed since he was last publishing strips.

    But even if this comeback doesn’t hit the heights his first run of work did (it probably won’t, even if it is very good), I cannot fault Larson for wanting to create. Heck, I can’t even fault him for “taking” a spot on the comics page from a fresh, new comic strip artist because papers were barely giving new comic strips space anyways and because comics consumption has moved significantly online.

  8. I’ll check it out, but I’m also skeptical.

    There’s a Buffy the Vampire slayer reboot coming out. As a huge fan of the first TV show, I plan to watch the reboot, and am fully prepared to hate it. As I see it, there are two possibilities: They can do it exactly like the original series, in which case I’ll complain that it’s just a copy. Or they can make significant changes, in which case I’ll complain that the changes ruined what made the original great. I’ll try to keep an open mind, but I suspect my reaction will be one of those two.

    New Far Sides isn’t exactly the same situtation, but it does seem like an uphill battle.

  9. The “unfrozen” part makes me think that this will mostly be an official online archive of the old far side comics. This would still be pretty cool since previously Larson has been very against online versions of his comics.

  10. I am happy to see someone doing what they love, especially when they do it so very well. So on that score, great!

    On the other hand, there are so many new artists and writers who deserve space and attention. (If you do not already know Wallace the Brave go and read it! Will Henry’s work is amazing! The artwork is whimsical and the writing is very tight and on point https://amzn.to/2M129K1)

    Of course newspapers aren’t really where it is at any more, but syndication is still a thing. With Larson (apparently) being online, perhaps it won’t have a negative impact on others? We shall see.

  11. “Good Eats (the return)” seems to be a pretty decent return of something that used to be popular. Unfortunately for me, while I enjoy watching it, I’m not as pulled in by the actual recipes they’ve shown so far.

  12. Let’s make our predictions:

    How long after Far Side’s return will one of them be a CIDU?

    Put me down for Strip #12.

  13. The guy is welcome to do as he sees fit with his strip. If he makes some new ones, I’ll probably enjoy some of them. If I don’t, I don’t have to read them. I see no negatives to this.

  14. I believe the most serious question concerning Gary Larson’s reboot of “The Far Side” is: how will it stand out from the crowd of other single panel comics? Since its success in the early 1980s, “The Far Side” has spawned many knock-offs and wanna-bes trying to capture the looney, off the wall spirit of Gary Larson. Some are quite good – Dave Coverly’s “Speedbump”, Dan Piraro’s “Bizarro”, Scott Hilburn’s “Argyle Sweater”, and recently retired cartoonist Jerry Van Amerongen’s “Ballard Street” come immediately to mind. For the most part, the rest are, at best, mediocre.

    My point, though, is that Larson’s humor is no longer as fresh, surprising, unique and sometimes shocking as it once was. It is now the standard level of humor. How will he be able to surmount it? I hope he succeeds, but it will be difficult to stand out from his peers.

  15. I bet most of us can describe at least a dozen Twilight Zone episodes, but not a single episode of Serling’s Night Gallery (which was conceived as Twilight Zone Redux).

  16. I shelled out big $$$ to own a copy of the “Complete Far Side”, now I’m learning it will soon be made incomplete. Thus, it joins the “Bloom County Library” on my shelf in that category… well, the only other strip I paid for a complete collection of is “Calvin and Hobbes”. Ball’s in your court, Mr. Watterson. (I have several volumes of the Complete Peanuts, but there are so MANY volumes. Mr. Schulz’ ghost, you may remain retired.)

  17. Some source I trusted said that Adams never referred to it as a trilogy until after he wrote the 4th book.

  18. I still have the original Hitchhiker’s Guide, but it’s on cassette tapes and I no longer have anything to play them on.

    CIDU Bill, I do have confidence in (and appreciation of) your administration of this space. I also suspect that I will have as little appreciation of Far Side as I did when it was current.

  19. @ Targuman – Thanks for that link! I was not aware that Will Henry had already published any Wallace the Brave collections, and I had no idea that he was connected with another strip (Ordinary Bill), which I will have to check out.

  20. I honestly don’t see a revived “Far Side” as anything less than terrible, but will be happy to be proven wrong. “Oh feelings of horror, resentment and pity for things which so seldom turn out for the best, FAR SIDE, unobserved, sped away from the city as the last of the light died out in the west.”

  21. I’m thinking along the same lines as Folly: “The “unfrozen” part makes me think that this will mostly be an official online archive of the old far side comics. This would still be pretty cool since previously Larson has been very against online versions of his comics.”

    I truly hope for new material but it sound more like a release of archived work to the online world.

  22. “I still have the original Hitchhiker’s Guide, but it’s on cassette tapes and I no longer have anything to play them on.”

    I also have the same state of affairs, except that I know that the original radio shows are on the Internet in .MP3 format.

  23. Surely every Goodwill and other thrift shop in existence has at least one and probably several cassette players for, say, five dollars or less, if you want to re-aquire the capability cheaply?

    I think I’ve still got about three working cassette players myself, though I’ll admit I haven’t used any of them for several years. I also still have three or four hundred cassettes (also, by definition, not playedin several years); most of them are old time radio episodes that I’ve replaced with mp3s. But they still look so cute huddled in their wood frames on the wall in the attic that I haven’t had the heart to just throw them out.

  24. For about $25-30, you can get a device that lets you capture your cassette tapes to MP3 files. Of course, there’s still a great deal of effort involved in running all of your accumulated cassette tapes through it and making sure the captures are good and correctly identified.

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