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Gary Larson and Bill Watterson created two completely different and varied comics that were, and still are, unique, creative, and hilarious. The comic strip, The Far Side, was written and drawn by Gary Larson and was in newspapers from 1980 to 1995. There are many collections and galleries of Gary Larson’s comics. Calvin and Hobbes was featured in newspapers from 1985 till 1995. The featured characters in Bill Watterson’s comics are a six-year-old boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. Also in the comic are Calvin’s parents who are only ever referred to as mom and dad; Susie, Calvin’s friend, also appears periodically.
In, The Far Side, there are no main characters; Different people, famous characters, and animals appear in each strip. The most common animals to appear in The Far Side are cows. Both comics have extremely different and varied formatting and differing character use. Watterson and Larson created two of the most hilarious, new, and refreshing comics ever.
The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes appeared in many newspapers almost always with the same generic format. The generic comic formatting is three or four boxes in chronological order, following the same event until the punch line at the end. Every comic feature Calvin or Hobbes and other characters appear fairly often. Both main characters are named after philosophers. In Calvin’s character, he clearly is a deep thinker and has a wide overview of life and art. “Calvin is named for the 16th-century theologian John Calvin” (Andrews McMeel Syndication).
Knowing he was named after a philosopher shows in Calvin’s interests like modern art and snowmen that depict the horror of human realization and life. Hobbes, the tiger, appears as real, talking and walking only to Calvin; Everyone else only sees the tiger as stuffed and inanimate. Hobbes views humans as completely inferior to tigers and strongly believes tigers are the greatest of any and every animal. Considering this it is understandable how he was named Thomas Hobbes. “Hobbes was named after the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who had a dim view of human nature” (Andrews McMeel Syndication). With the many moral and political issues within the comic it is clear why Bill Watterson named both of the main characters after philosophers and displayed characteristics of each in their respective characters. The Far Side takes a completely different approach with character use and formatting.
Gary Larson has no repeat characters in his comic and features different people, animals, and some bacteria. The most frequent animals seen in The Far Side are cows. Chickens also appear somewhat often. From using only different characters, Larson emphasizes the humor shown instead of the characters. The Far Side disregards the basic comic strip format of three of four boxes in sequence. Larson’s comic shows all the details in a single square or rectangle, some with caption or dialogue, leaving the reader to analyze and find the humor for themselves. Several characters not invented by Larson make cameo appearances, such as, Superman, Pinocchio, and Godzilla. Many of the jokes in the far side are sadistic and this new humor brought a new front of comics described as “weird, outré and hilarious”(Solomon).
In his comic strips Watterson displays a wide variety of humor and depth of thought. The vast differences in-jokes range from ironic situations to scenes full of mayhem. Another type of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon is comics that are sweet or adorable and show the best parts of human nature and innocence. Although most comics Watterson wrote are only for humor, a few that he wrote focus on the sweet interaction between Hobbes and Calvin. Hobbes often is very cynical of human behaviour and believes above anything that tiger’s are the greatest specie. Several comics use satire to reveal how ridiculous Hobbes thinks human habits like littering and fighting are. Calvin and Hobbes has a wide range of humour, satire, and sweetness shown in their comics while The Far Side has a very different approach to show humor in their comic strips.
The Far Side, unlike most cartoons which use a three or four box format, displays almost every single one of their comics in a single box. Instead of having a main character or characters there are random people and animals. Often in The Far Side there will be a cartoon with a drawing depicting something that will probably happen; Implying the absurd scenario that is about to occur heightens the suspense and amusement for the reader. Other of Larson’s comics show an image of how a scene is left after the drama has occurred, with just enough context clues in place that the reader can evaluate what has happened for themselves and have a nice laugh. Plenty of the jokes and situations implied in The Far Side seem quite cruel and sadistic but are outrageously hilarious to non offended readers. In The Prehistory Of The Far Side, Larson mentions several people who wrote him letters voicing their disgust of his comics which they described as sick and cruel. Most of those people had simply misunderstood the joke or taken it too seriously, after all, The Far Side was only joking.
Watterson grew up in Washington D.C. and was born the fifth of july 1958. When he was six years old his family moved Ohio. His parents had pretty usual jobs, his father worked as a patent attorney and his mom served on the city council. Watterson drew political cartoons for four years before graduating at Ohio’s Kenyon College. After his graduation he accepted a job as an editorial cartoonist at Cincinnati Post. Watterson was fired from his job a year later and found temporary work making advertisements for grocery stores and car dealerships. While designing advertisements he sent out his recently created cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes. His comic strip was not accepted for several years until Universal Syndicate bought his comic and it was an instant success and spread to other newspapers like a wildfire.
Gary Larson was born on August 14, 1950 and has lived a simple life. Larson grew up in Washington and enjoyed playing guitar and banjo. He attended Washington state and completed a degree in communication. Larson dabbled with careers in music performance and commercial writing. He grew tired of those jobs and began drawing and writing cartoons. The first newspaper to feature his comics was The Seattle Times, they released his cartoon under the name Nature’s Way. While on vacation the San Francisco Chronicle decided to place his work with their newspaper with a name change to, The Far Side. After that it was a massive success and was printed in tons of papers. Both Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side, were in newspapers about the same time and were extremely popular. Larson and Watterson created two wonderful cartoons that were and are, hilarious and loved. Choosing one over the other is impossible since they both are amazing in differing ways and qualities.They are each timeless classics that will continue to make readers laugh as long as they keep reading.
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