Even though Gay Larson retired in 1995, people across the country are still familiar with his ever-famous cartoon strip, The Far Side, which was syndicated in 1980. And now it’s Larson’s 63rd birthday, so we figured it’s only appropriate that we celebrate the wonderful cartoonist’s life. [all images via Pinterest]
Larson was born in Tacoma, Washington on August 14, 1950, and his life growing up seems largely responsible with the science-related humor in The Far Side. As a kid, he and his brother create a habitat in their basement with animals they had caught from the Puget Sound. Larson went on to attend Curtis Senior High School and then Washington State University, where he received a degree in communications.
However, Larson didn’t suddenly find himself a star in the world of cartooning after his college career. Instead, he took a job in a music store — he had formed a jazz duo with a friend, but the band folded after three years — before realizing that job was far from where he wanted to be in life. So, in 1976, he submitted six of his cartoons to Pacific Search in Seattle and then The Seattle Times, which picked up his strip Nature’s Way (the precursor to The Far Side).
Larson found true success when he submitted his work to the San Francisco Chronicle. They changed the name from Nature’s Way to The Far Side, and it took off. By the time Larson decided to retire in 1995, The Far Side was in 1,900 newspapers and Larson had received the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. But Larson’s recognition goes far beyond his cartoons. In fact, in 1898, Dale Clayton, the head of the Committee of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, named a new species of insect after Larson.
Despite retiring in 1995, Larson has done a number of other projects, including a cover for The New Yorker magazine and a cameo voicing himself on an episode of The Simpsons. And, of course, his The Far Side legacy lives on in the form of comics, books, and even DVDs. Happy birthday, Gary Larson!