You can now enjoy one of your guilty little pleasures without all the guilt. “The Far Side” by Gary Larson now has an official online presence. Up until now, if you wanted to enjoy Larson’s work, you either had to have one of his books or calendars, or go visiting a backroom site of the internet where the single-panel comics were published in violation of copyright.
Larson has been pretty strict about keeping his work offline. It’s been 25 years since the comics stopped appearing in newspapers, and now Larson is finally letting his work appear online on thefarside.com. Larson explains that the decision was made for two reasons. First, digital security has advanced to the point his work will be safe, though in typical Larson fashion, the artist argued that “the Russians could get inside this thing and start messing with my captions. (I know they’re thinking about it!).” The second reason for the move online is that graphics quality has advanced to the point where viewers can enjoy the comics the way Larson intended. “Man, did those old computer screens suck when it came to visual nuances,” writes Larson.
Larson also admits that he’s just a little bit tired of the fight as well. “Trying to exert some control over my cartoons has always been an uphill slog,” writes Larson, “and I’ve sometimes wondered if my absence from the web may have inadvertently fueled someone’s belief my cartoons were up for grabs. They’re not. But it’s always been inherently awkward to chase down a ‘Far Side’-festooned website when the person behind it is often simply a fan.”
The Far Side site offers several features, including a Daily Dose that is refreshed with classic comics every day. You can also click through collections that are categorized under topics like “All in the Phylum” or “Hands Off My Bunsen Burner.” Larson has also posted scans of his sketchbooks so you can see the process behind your favorite cartoons. Finally, there’s an online store where you can buy printed calendars and other items.