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The Complete Far Side: 1980-1994 Hardcover – Box set, September 1, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 564 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gary Larson calls The Complete Far Side, the massive two-volume collection of his Far Side cartoons, an "18-pound hernia giver." Sure to give any coffee table a solid workout, the handsome and heavy 1,272-page "legacy book" is a must for fervent fans; over 4,300 single-panel comics with more than half in color and 1,100 that have not appeared in any book form before (the popular--and far less weighty--paperback collections).

Set in rough chronological order, the comics share pages with occasional letters from fans, detractors, editors, folks made famous by a particular cartoon, and those begging for explanations. Though few explanations are provided (Larson personally supplies merely one, plus a single apology), this collection helps answer the inevitable "how do you think up these things" conundrum. Before each year's cartoons, Larson provides insight with essays about his childhood, various travels, occupational hazards, and his official rules for dealing with bedtime monsters (which often turned out to be his older brother). Most wonderful is the first essay on how the comic started. (His longtime editor Jake Morrissey's long introduction is a must read on The Far Side's story).

Despite no central characters, it's easy to spot patterns in Larson's wild and wacky cartoons. Animals, insects, and inanimate objects often exhibit all-too-human impulses. Larson's subjects are often in scenes of peril--disasters, visits to hell, and perhaps a hundred cartoons set on a one-palm tree deserted island. It is what Larson's fertile imagination mined from those situations that created fans and enemies for 14 years. (Larson retired at his peak and then went into jazz music). The comics are not indexed (how could they be--first lines? listings of cartoons with cows?); finding a favorite requires a great memory for its publication date. Best simply to peruse the pages of this beautiful collection in which you will certainly find more than a few new chuckles before landing on your beloved Larson sketch. --Doug Thomas

From Publishers Weekly

Lumpy cows and dinosaurs, nerds wearing glasses and women with big hair abound in this hefty two-volume slipcased compilation of Larson's twisted and beloved single-panel comic. Complete with every syndicated Far Side cartoon arranged chronologically by year of publication, in addition to 19 that were created after Larson's retirement in 1995, this deluxe set features chapter introductions by Larson as well as letters from fans and puzzled readers ("Help!... [This comic] has stumped not only me but the entire office"). Readers will be amused by the insightfully funny and nostalgic chapter introductions that offer a peek into the cartoon genius's mind, such as the intro to 1982 that illustrates what Larson calls the "ohpleaseohplease syndrome" an obsession he shares with biologists and naturalists (and his brother) to acquire a lizard or another creature, if only briefly, and to "drink it in" before it escapes into its own world. Comedian/author Martin provides a foreword that captures the offbeat and candid humor underlying each comic, as he sorrowfully reports that "many of the scenes depicted in this book are actually false." Readers may not be stunned by this revelation, but they will surely enjoy flipping through the slick, full-colored pages of this mammoth treasury, a lavish (and heavy!) collector's item that is the perfect gift for Far Side fans. Just make sure they say "ohpleaseohplease."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1272 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 1st edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0740721135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0740721137
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 3.9 x 14.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 19.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (564 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The first thing you notice about The Complete Far Side is its weight. This is a heavy item. (...) Even the slipcase is made of some super-industrial-strength cardboard, because a regular thickness just wouldn't be up to the task of housing the two absolutely massive bound volumes within.
You really can't imagine how big and heavy this thing is. Get a rough estimate in your mind. Now double it. Good, you're getting close. (...)P>The second thing you notice is quality. Everything from the full-color pages (even when the comics are in black-and-white) to the cloth binding with gold embossing, to the full-color plates decorating the outside of the slipcase shouts "We are the nicest-looking books you will ever own."<P(...) So, you may want to buy it in a bookstore where you can ensure your copy is perfect).
Even if the contents were the Detroit Yellow Pages, these books would still be a pleasure just to look at and feel. Fortunately, the contents are a long way better than the Yellow Pages. And that brings us to the third thing you'll notice: the absolute, pure, unalloyed genius of Gary Larson. You get every Far Side ever published along with a heap that never have been. Lots of old comics I remembered as being in black and white, are redone in color here. Plus you get several meaty essays by Gary Larson himself, that add even more context to the Far Side phenomenon.
But the best part of The Complete Far Side may not even be Larson's work -- rather, it's the exhaustive documentation of people's reaction to it. Every time some nutjob with too much time on his hands wrote an angry letter to the newspaper complaining about a Far Side, that letter is reproduced here next to the panel in question. Often, the syndicate's response is included as well.
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Format: Hardcover
In terms of content, this is *nearly* the ultimate collection of Gary Larson's wonderful Far Side comics (why do all the good cartoonists like Larson and Watterson retire early, while banal ones like Jim Davis [Garfield] go on ad nauseum?).
Books are very well made, like good art history volumes, with thoughtful notes included between each section (divided by years), and the paper and ink quality is excellent.
However, while this collection features all of the Far Side comics published since inception (and a few more never before seen by the public), it leaves out Larson's hilarious Farsidian take on classic art pieces as featured in the superb "Weiner Dog Art" collection from the 90's. Also, and I suppose this would have made what are already two massive tomes even more unruly to handle, it leaves out all of "Prehistory of the Far Side" material.
So just make sure you get "Weiner Dog Art" and "Prehistory", and then with this collection you'll have the ultimate Far Side opus.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Attention all Far Side fans! It may have been nearly nine years since Gary Larson hung up his famous pen and eraser, however you can continue to get your "fix" of the Far Side for a very long time to come with this outstanding collection.
I was impressed that the publisher of this volume has taken the time to put together a nearly comprehensive collection of every Far Side cartoon ever published (well over 4,000 in total). The cartoons are printed on very finely milled paper, the books are beautifully bound, and they are even placed inside a very nicely done slipcase. Not only will you enjoy reading these classic cartoons, they will look terrific on your bookshelf!
Just be warned, they are very heavy - each volume has to weigh 20 pounds a piece.
You cannot afford to pass this collection up - do not let the price scare you away - you will not be disappointed!
Happy reading!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Because Gary Larson's "The Far Side" cartoons didn't appear in my newspaper, I never saw them as they came out. Instead, I'd see them tacked to office cubicle walls, or on greeting cards, or desktop calendars, or coffee mugs -- in short, all over the place. It didn't take me long to become a big Larson fan.

When I first came across "The Complete Far Side" a year ago, in a local book store, it was set up on the kind of display stand normally reserved for encyclopedias, major dictionaries, and other scholarly works of that sort. As I reverently turned the pages, laughing at just about everything I saw, my hands got really sweaty. ("Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!") It was mighty pricey. It was HUGE. Where am I going to PUT this thing??? No, I really can't .... and I'd walk away, looking back longingly.

So I thought about it for a full year, watching sales come and go, and the books disappear for a time, only to reappear, and finally I broke down and ordered them from Amazon. The shipment box comes with a prominent "warning, heavy contents" sticker. Larson calls it an "18-pound hernia giver". Page "xxi" in Volume One shows a full-page cartoon of the books being assembled with a crane. You get the idea.

And I still had to figure out where to put them. They won't fit on any of my bookshelves. They're much too big for the coffee table. Under my bed? The monsters would eat them, and the crunching would keep me awake. Finally I hit upon the ideal solution: I slung them onto my dresser, between my "Compact Oxford Dictionary" and the filing cabinet.

Interesting note: the two-volume microprint dictionary comes in its own display case, complete with magnifying glass, and turns out to be EXACTLY the same height and depth as "The Complete Far Side".
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