Gary Larson

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Gary Larson (born August 14, 1950) is the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series which was syndicated internationally to newspapers for 15 years. The series ended with Larson's retirement on January 1, 1995. His 23 books of collected cartoons have combined sales of more than 45 million copies.[1]



Larson was born and raised in University Place, Washington. His parents are Verner, a car salesman, and Doris, a secretary.[2] He attended Curtis Senior High School before attending Washington State University, from which he graduated in 1972 with a degree in communications. In 1987, Larson married Toni Carmichael, an anthropologist. Ms. Carmichael graduated from Safford High School in 1972 before attending college.

Larson credits his older brother, Dan, for his "paranoid" sense of humor.[2] Dan pulled countless pranks on Gary, taking advantage of his phobia of monsters under the bed by waiting in the closet for the right moment to pounce. He is also credited for nurturing Gary's love of science. They caught animals in Puget Sound and placed them in terrariums in the basement, even making a small desert ecosystem.[2] Larson's use of snakes in his cartoons stems from his long-standing interest in herpetology. Dan died of cancer in 1991.

According to Larson[3] in his anthology, The Prehistory of the Far Side, he was working in a music store when he took a few days off, after finally realizing how much he hated his job. During that time, he decided to try cartooning and drew six cartoons and submitted them to Pacific Search (now Pacific Northwest Magazine), a Seattle-based magazine. After contributing to another local Seattle paper, in 1979 Larson submitted his work to The Seattle Times. Under the title Nature’s Way, his work was published weekly next to the Junior Jumble.[3]

To supplement his income, Larson worked for the Humane Society. Larson soon decided he could increase his income from cartooning by selling his strip to another newspaper. Taking his vacation in San Francisco, Larson pitched his work to the San Francisco Chronicle. To Larson’s surprise, the Chronicle bought the strip and promoted it for syndication, renaming it The Far Side. This all occurred a week before The Seattle Times dropped Nature’s Way.[3]

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