Years ago, a secretary asked me if I read The Far Side. I told her yes.
She asked me if I could explain it.
I said no.
Who could explain Gary Larson’s madness?
For example, one of his cartoons was titled ‘They call the wind Murray’.
They call the wind Murray? Murray? No, no you say, you’ve screwed it up.
Yes, it was actually ‘They call the wind Mariah’, a beautifully romantic, poignant song of loneliness and lost
love from Paint Your Wagon’, a fifties era Broadway show.
While listening to it, you might dream of lovers now far away in time or distance. You might want to post a Do Not Disturb sign outside your brain.
But the Far Side’s Larson would have none of that-by changing the name from Mariah to Murray, Larson reached into our brain and said, “Oh, noooooo, do not think of a gorgeous woman staring dreamily across a windswept plain. Think instead of a paunchy, flatulent, Jewish retailer strap hanging on a subway car.”
Larson did this to us because he could. He was the unmatched master of ripping out traditional thoughts from our brain and replacing them with incredibly twisted, abnormal imagery. No one else had his ability to take a conventional idea and flip it 180 degrees.
And he did it every day, and we begged for more. Larson held the needle full of heroin, and we stuck out our arms.
He retired in 1995, at the top of his game. The withdrawal was instantaneous, painful, and long lasting.
And their are no successors (Kliban’s cats were a bit close).
If you are new to The Far Side, go to Amazon and order a few. You’ll get hooked.