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The Complete Far Side [Hardcover]

Gary Larson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2003
New York Times best-seller!

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 "Every one of these cartoons is just something that drifted into my head when I was alone with my thoughts. And, for better or worse, I 'jotted' them down. It was only later, when perhaps I received an angry letter from someone, that it struck me: Hey! Someone's been reading my diary!" --Gary Larson, from the preface to The Complete Far Side
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  Revered by its fans as the funniest, most original, most "What the ... ?"-inspiring cartoon ever, The Far Side debuted in January 1980 and enjoyed an illustrious 14 years on the world's comics pages until Gary Larson's retirement in 1994. The Complete Far Side celebrates Gary's twisted, irreverent genius in this ultimate Far Side book, a lavish production which takes its place alongside collector's-edition art books.

  A masterpiece of comic brilliance, The Complete Far Side contains every Far Side cartoon ever syndicated-over 4,000 if you must know-presented in (more or less) chronological order by year of publication, with more than 1,100 that have never before appeared in a book. Also included are additional Far Side cartoons Larson created after his retirement: 13 that appeared in the last Far Side book, Last Chapter and Worse, and six cartoons that periodically ran as a special feature in the New York Times Science Times section as The Far Side of Science. Creator Gary Larson offers a rare glimpse into the mind of The Far Side in quirky and thoughtful introductions to each of the 14 chapters. Complaint letters, fan letters, and queries from puzzled readers appear alongside some of the more provocative or elusive panels. Actor, author, and comedian Steve Martin offers his pithy thoughts in a foreword, and Gary Larson's former editor describes what it was like to be "the guy who could explain every Far Side cartoon."

  During its 14-year run, The Far Side was syndicated internationally to over 1,900 daily newspapers. It spawned 22 books and has been translated into a total of 17 different languages.

  For his work with The Far Side, Gary Larson received the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in both 1991 and 1994. The National Cartoonists Society also named The Far Side Best Syndicated Panel in 1985 and 1987. In 1993, The Far Side was awarded the Max and Moritz Prize for Best International Comic Strip/Panel by the International Comics Salon. In 1995, Larson's animated film Gary Larson's Tales from The Far Side won the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Festival in Annecy, France. His second animated film, Gary Larson's Tales from The Far Side II, premiered in 1997 in the United States at the Telluride Film Festival and in Europe at the Venice International Film Festival.

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From Amazon

Gary Larson calls The Complete Far Side, the massive two-volume collection of his Far Side cartoons, an "18-pound hernia giver." Sure to give any coffee table a solid workout, the handsome and heavy 1,250-page "legacy book" is a must for fervent fans; over 4,300 single-panel comics with more than half in color and 1,100 that have not appeared in any book form before (the popular--and far less weighty--paperback collections).

Set in rough chronological order, the comics share pages with occasional letters from fans, detractors, editors, folks made famous by a particular cartoon, and those begging for explanations. Though few explanations are provided (Larson personally supplies merely one, plus a single apology), this collection helps answer the inevitable "how do you think up these things" conundrum. Before each year's cartoons, Larson provides insight with essays about his childhood, various travels, occupational hazards, and his official rules for dealing with bedtime monsters (which often turned out to be his older brother). Most wonderful is the first essay on how the comic started. (His longtime editor Jake Morrissey's long introduction is a must read on The Far Side's story).

Despite no central characters, it's easy to spot patterns in Larson's wild and wacky cartoons. Animals, insects, and inanimate objects often exhibit all-too-human impulses. Larson's subjects are often in scenes of peril--disasters, visits to hell, and perhaps a hundred cartoons set on a one-palm tree deserted island. It is what Larson's fertile imagination mined from those situations that created fans and enemies for 14 years. (Larson retired at his peak and then went into jazz music). The comics are not indexed (how could they be--first lines? listings of cartoons with cows?); finding a favorite requires a great memory for its publication date. Best simply to peruse the pages of this beautiful collection in which you will certainly find more than a few new chuckles before landing on your beloved Larson sketch. --Doug Thomas

From Publishers Weekly

Lumpy cows and dinosaurs, nerds wearing glasses and women with big hair abound in this hefty two-volume slipcased compilation of Larson's twisted and beloved single-panel comic. Complete with every syndicated Far Side cartoon arranged chronologically by year of publication, in addition to 19 that were created after Larson's retirement in 1995, this deluxe set features chapter introductions by Larson as well as letters from fans and puzzled readers ("Help!... [This comic] has stumped not only me but the entire office"). Readers will be amused by the insightfully funny and nostalgic chapter introductions that offer a peek into the cartoon genius's mind, such as the intro to 1982 that illustrates what Larson calls the "ohpleaseohplease syndrome" an obsession he shares with biologists and naturalists (and his brother) to acquire a lizard or another creature, if only briefly, and to "drink it in" before it escapes into its own world. Comedian/author Martin provides a foreword that captures the offbeat and candid humor underlying each comic, as he sorrowfully reports that "many of the scenes depicted in this book are actually false." Readers may not be stunned by this revelation, but they will surely enjoy flipping through the slick, full-colored pages of this mammoth treasury, a lavish (and heavy!) collector's item that is the perfect gift for Far Side fans. Just make sure they say "ohpleaseohplease."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Dec 17 2003
By Ted
Format:Hardcover
Here we have the COMPLETE syndicated run of the Far Side Comic series. It was ground breaking for many as one can see from the letters to the editor from newspapers which appear on some pages.
The only thin I didn't like was the fact that they didn't have a major bonus section like the book "Prehistory of the Far Side" had. That one had some which were rejected by his editor as being too racy, I would have loved to see more of those in this release. Still This item is well worth the price.
I hope that Dan Piraro does this type of book If and when his "Bizarro" series ends. If you like "Far Side" you will like probably like "Bizarro"
A few of the "Far Side" comics slightly offend me as a Christian, but almost all of them don't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly the ultimate (comprehensive) collection Nov. 13 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In terms of content, this is *nearly* the ultimate collection of Gary Larson's wonderful Far Side comics (why do all the good cartoonists like Larson and Watterson retire early, while banal ones like Jim Davis [Garfield] go on ad nauseum?).
Books are very well made, like good art history volumes, with thoughtful notes included between each section (divided by years), and the paper and ink quality is excellent.
However, while this collection features all of the Far Side comics published since inception (and a few more never before seen by the public), it leaves out Larson's hilarious Farsidian take on classic art pieces as featured in the superb "Weiner Dog Art" collection from the 90's. Also, and I suppose this would have made what are already two massive tomes even more unruly to handle, it leaves out all of "Prehistory of the Far Side" material.
So just make sure you get "Weiner Dog Art" and "Prehistory", and then with this collection you'll have the ultimate Far Side opus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile investment Oct. 28 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is the Holy Grail for Far Side fans; a two-volume, leatherbound, slipcase edition of every single Far Side strip ever produced, including ones that were never anthologized. It carries a hefty price tag, but this should not be an issue for a true Larson fan; the price of admission pales in comparison to the endless amount of humor and satisfaction that one will get time and time again. The Far Side never gets old, and it's like having a long-lost friend come back.
The pages are thick and glossy and extremely well-bound; it's like an encyclopedia, only with a lot more relevant information and more interesting pictures. Organized chronologically and with a two-page cartoon introducing the year, the Complete Far Side shows the progression of Larson's humor and the transformation of the public reaction to his cartoons (this is done with various letters from editors and such, though not in a way that mimics The Pre-History of the Far Side). Some of the strips are presented in color, something that will perhaps be seen as a disappointment to some, but to the majority it is nothing short of a bonus; most of these that are in color have been previously anthologized in black and white.
I personally find Steve Martin's introduction to be a brilliant homage to Gary Larson, and the comments from Larson's editor prove to be tongue-in-cheek moments where one who truly "gets" The Far Side can laugh at the ignorant masses.
This is the centerpiece of my library now, and while it is somewhat bulky, when it's in your lap or on the table, the ten pounds per book seems irrelevant when you realize the sheer scope of what you have in your hands.
And if you ever visit the Midvale School for the Gifted...pull, don't push.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
While the price tag may seem hefty, it's easily worth the money.
This "Complete" collection is far more than I ever expected. Since I had so many of the older collections, I made the assumption that this was just a cool way to put all the stuff in one place. Not so... It's not just convenience, it simply better than any combination of older volumes you will ever find.
Here are some observations:
1. The collection includes a ton of cartoons that have NEVER been published in book form. These classics have not been seen anywhere since their original newspaper publication.
2. Even though the original cartoons were in black and white, a large percentage of these classics have been colorized! The color versions are seemlessly sprinkled into the pages, keeping the flow. Both older and newer cartoons are equally colorized.
3. The quality of the package itself is top-notch. They use high quality paper, printing, binding and packaging.
4. The set is very large and VERY HEAVY. You may have trouble lifting it.
5. The cartoons are layed out in a variety of sizes. Some are expanded to the entire page, where others are mixed in about the same size as they were in the original newspapers.
6. Lastly... These cartoons are FUNNY!!!!!! All the fancy packaging and quality are just gravy. The bottom line is that these cartoons will have you laughing for years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Complete works was incomplete Aug. 6 2013
By Pella
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Gary Larson and the Far Side. Recently bought the complete works in hard cover. Two huge and heavy volumes. However, both books were Volume I. Hello, where is Volume 2? Have tried calling and speaking to very nice customer service people at Amazon, sent emails to Daily Deal but all falls on deaf ears. Nobody wants to hear my plea!!!!

All I want is to return the superfluous Vol 1 and exchange it for the missing Vol 2. Help!!!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
classic must have
Published 1 month ago by Cameron Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars more cows
gary Larson has always been one of my absolute favorites...from the quirky to the odd to the downright plain weird...absolutely love them all... Read more
Published 9 months ago by hobbes
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL of Gary Larson's cartoons - what joy!
This comes in two, heavy, beautifully bound, tall volumes in an illustrated slipcase; heavy paper, heavy, heavy books. That's the only drawback. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joseph Barry Garner
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally hilarious
This is a set of two volumes. It's absolutely hilarious. I totally recommend this book for anyone who needs a pick-me-up. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Wm. D. Milburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Far Out Man!!
So many memories! So much fun! Who knew that a cartoonist could essentially define a decade or two before melting into the shadows. Beautifully bound and annotated with love.
Published on March 24 2012 by eeyoore
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for my husband
I purchased this collection of hilarious comic strips for my husband, just because. He was blown away by such a gift, and continues to read a few pages every night before... Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2011 by Kathleen Dubeau
5.0 out of 5 stars The mind of Gary Larson exposed
A great collection of all your favorite Far Side cartoons. If you love Far Side this is the ultimate collection.
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by John J Gibbons
5.0 out of 5 stars Far Side Complete Collection
What can I say? The collection is amazing. The books are very heavy. The humor is totally funny. I sit and read them and laugh out loud.....repeatedly! Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2010 by Susie
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY NO COWS WERE HARMED IN PRINTING THIS MASTERPIECE!
Where BILL WATTERSON is philosophical and whimsical, GARRY LARSON is absurdly surprising and devilishly creative! Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2007 by NeuroSplicer
5.0 out of 5 stars THE funniest book ever
I love any and everything with humor, especially the kind that this guys has. 1300 pages of Gary Larson, with four of his great cartoons per page, arranged in mostly chronological... Read more
Published on May 25 2006 by Sandy Washington
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