DVD Review: Gary Larson’s Tales from the Far Side 1 & 2

Only two comic strips ever did it for me: Jim Davis’ Garfield and Gary Larson’s Far Side. Couldn’t relate to either one, but nonetheless, they were a staple in developing my sense of Americana and humor. Now I actually get to see if I’ve been interpreting Old Larson’s funny pitchers correctly and confirm whether or not I always had a sense of humor I was never aware of.

See, The Simpsons was good. Then Family Guy came along and I’ll give them credit some gags are pretty funny. South Park, not really (Team America, fuck yeah, for some reason). But before these, there was Far Side. It was a newspaper comic panel. Note, single panel. It wasn’t ever a multi-panel either (like Garfield would be on special occasion). Larson even made the comic panel look all fancy-like, like a painting that would hang in a museum. Heck, dude’s John Hancock was class, if not pure elegance. The comic ran from the 1980s to mid 1990s. Those who got the humor were in on a big joke. Then there were also those that found them too controversial or thought it was a waste of printed ink. Whatever the interpretation, Larson does have a very distinctive sense of humor. It influenced heavily how I would present my humor.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

DVD Main Menu consists of a long running gag of a stranded man on an island.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

The first thing I noticed was how spooky the tone was. I didn’t think it would be so creepy. It has a similar feel to Twin Peaks. That’s not surprising once you realize the source of the shows is the Midwest. Larson uses a lot of imagery of deer, flannel-jacketed hunters, bears, fat ugly people, woods, etc. Perhaps, it’s alienating because now I’m a Midwesterner having read these as an outsider only to catch on to the jokes when I notice them to be true.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

It’s neat to see his gags turned into fully animated interpretations. It seems there is a lot of that Zuckers brothers type of humor there. But at the same time, there’s also lots of macabre, dark stuff. If you get a chance to watch this DVD, there’s an incredible snippet that involves a woman dancing with her husband. It feels as though it’s based on a black-and-white live action film, an allusion possibly, but it’s still incredibly well done.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

It’s possible Old Man Larson was quite the cinephile himself. There’s lots of slasher flick references, jungle adventures, heck, even Bruce Lee. Wonder what Roger Ebert comics would be like? R. Hyde’s comics would definitely be dirty, akin to R. Crumb’s perhaps. Who knows. Cinema and pop culture is a good source for humor. It shows people how shallow they really are and how easily amused they can be. I could make fun of Twilight all the way to the bank in my humor, but that would mean I’d have to watch those movies or read those books first, ya know, just so I don’t have a jaded opinion about it.

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side screenshot

Well, that’s not much of a review. Just needed an excuse to post screencaps I did with VLC. Sum it up, I think I got about 80% of the humor. I still don’t understand the Cairo joke where they’re all just chilling in the open market and the tourist drinks the amoebas. Is it just a traveler’s immunity thing where the locals don’t get sick when they drink their own water? But those Egyptians sure do speak Chinese well, don’t they?

Get this DVD if you’re a hardcore Far Side fan (you can get it from the official website http://www.thefarside.com). Otherwise, stick with your Friends anthology. I assure you, I’ll find one funnier than the other. Hint, it’s the one I’m reviewing.

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