“The Complete Far Side,” a two-volume, 1,250-page collection of 14 years of the iconic comic panels drawn by artist Gary Larson Was Just Released.
From the first panel on January 1, 1980 — a pair of crabs marveling at the odd appearance of human babies — to the last — a January 1, 1995, double panel in which the cartoonist wakes up to find it was all a dream — the “Far Side” ranks as one of the most popular comics ever.
Syndicated at its peak in 1,900 newspapers and translated into 17 languages according to media reports, “Far Side” was almost a traditional comic strip until Larson convinced his editors of the merits of a panel instead.
“I had a single-image brain; I drew single-image cartoons,” Larson wrote in an introduction in the book.
But summing up those 4,300 cartoons was not as easy as it might seem because once Larson agreed to help compile the retrospective, the process took three years.
“He had been away from it long enough that I guess he felt like it was time he could deal with it,” said Michael Reagan, chief executive of Lionheart Books. Reagan, who is based in Atlanta, worked with Larson to design the collection.
“I think in his mind he always knew he would do what we came to term ‘the legacy book,”‘ Reagan said.
Bound in two volumes (1980-1986 and 1987-1994), the collection features a foreword by comedian Steve Martin, and despite the relatively steep price of $135 (though it can be found for under $100 online), the book made the New York Times best-seller lists and it has garnered rave reviews.