Gary Larson has just been released new strips for The Far Side, the first comics since January 1995. While Larson warns that this is’ not a resurrection of The Far Side daily cartoons ”, having reread our favorites for 25 years, we are so excited about new work that we will take everything he wants to share. Larson started bringing his comics online late last year.
The first of the new comics includes bears, aliens and taxidermy (all staples of The Far Side). The style is comfortably familiar, with two major exceptions: instead of watercolor, the new strips are done in digital brush strokes that make the images feel more voluminous and vibrant than the original full-color cartoons. Also, the recorded contours, which occur in both the watercolor and the black and white original strips, have almost completely disappeared. The end result is images that evoke the feel of the old comics, but are somehow a little less cartoonish. The characters and elements all feel united in the scene together.
Both the style changes and the return of the comic are due to the fact that Larson now uses a digital tablet. After years of frustration with clogged pens and dried up markers, Larson decided to give digital a try. “I was amazed at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I just had no idea how far these things had evolved, “Larson writes in an opening letter New things, the title for his new works. “Maybe the first thing I drew is a caveman.”
Larson isn’t the first cartoonist to trade in a pen for a stylus. The allure is quite strong. Using a tablet offers a wide variety of digital brushes and tools, as well as the ability to layer for objects and colors – options that didn’t exist when Larson’s series first ran. The range of styluses that exist to mimic pens and screen protectors, making it feel like you’re drawing on paper, also makes for a smoother transition.
At the end of the letter, Larson asks readers to remember, “I’m just exploring, experimenting and trying things.” And that is exciting. With an abundance of new tools at our disposal, we are curious to see how they will be used to breathe new life into The Far Sideno matter how little Larson gets around to it.