Happy Birthday Mr. Larson!

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Mr. Gary Larson, the genius behind "The Far Side," is turning one year older today. And since I *still* to this day look at the Comics page and long for images of smoking dinosaurs, naughty cows, and bespectacled matrons with beehive haircuts, I figured I'd honor the notorious Mr. L with a few facts culled from Wikipedia and Salon.

  • Gary Larson is probably the only cartoonist to have a louse named for him (the Strigiphilus garylarsoni). In response, Larson claimed: "I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along."
  • As a kid, Larson and his older brother used to "kidnap" reptiles, flood their backyard and fill it with frogs and insects (to try and make a swamp of it), and dump buckets of sand all over their basement to try and turn it into a desert.
  • According to Salon, "Comics page readers regularly voted "The Far Side" both their favorite cartoon and their most disliked cartoon." Editors often took the cartoon out of their newspapers because it received so much complaints, and then got even more complaints, so they'd slip it back in.
  • Gary Larson once got trouble for offending The Jane Goodall Institute. In one of his more celebrated cartoons, two chimps are grooming each other when one finds a human hair on the other, and asks, "Doing a little more "˜research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?" The Institute was so offended by the cartoon that they had their lawyers draft a complaint to Larson's syndicate. When Jane Goodall heard about it, though, she admitted enjoying the cartoon, and since then all profits from that strip have gone to her society.
  • The Dayton Daily News has twice accidentally switched the captions on "Dennis the Menace" and "The Far Side" cartoons. And while the switch didn't do much for Larson's cartoon, it drastically changed the tone of "Dennis the Menace." Particularly when Dennis told his mother, "I see your little, petrified skull ... labeled and resting on a shelf somewhere." The punch line was originally supposed to be uttered by one of Larson's Neolithic fortune-tellers.

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August 14, 2006 - 7:03am
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