A cartoon heavyweight
You'll need an ample supply of cash or a very generous Santa to land a copy of Gary Larson's stunning new cartoon collection. The Complete Far Side: 1980-1994 retails for $135 and tips the scales at close to 20 pounds. This two-volume, slipcased set includes more than 4,000 Far Side cartoons, along with 14 chapter introductions by Larson himself (see excerpt) and a foreword by Steve Martin. 'Twill be only the luckiest who find this sizable gem beneath the tree on Christmas morning.
BY GARY LARSON
My childhood fear of monsters is a theme I've often explored. (Hell, you're looking at 1,272 pages of therapy, folks). Under the bed, in the closet, up in the attic, the laundry room, that storage room at the end of the hallmonsters were everywhere in our house, lying in wait. Lying in wait for me.
But, where they all came from, where these monsters all lived, was obviously one place: The Basement. I mean, all basements provide perfect conditions for any unnatural beast: dark, cold, drafty, lots of shadowy places to lurka complete monster ecosystem. All they needed was a little kid chow thrown to them now and then.
Now, in our house, the door to the basement was in the kitchen and for some ungodly reason the light switch for the basement was controlled on the kitchen side. For a monster-fearing kid, especially one with an older brother who had obviously entered into some kind of evil pact with these same monsters in order to save his own skin, this was not a good thing.
One evening that I would like to forget, I was about halfway up the stairs with some firewood. (Wouldn't it be nice if you could hear the sound track to your life? At least you'd have a clue that danger was imminent.) And that's when it happened. With an audible click, the light switch went off and I was plunged into darkness. Welcome to nightfall in the Monster Serengeti.
I dropped the wood (the cachophony of which wrung out the last few drops that still remained in my adrenal gland) and scrambled blindly to the top of the stairs. There, my desperate hand finally found the doorknob. Locked, of course. (Did I mention the lock, also controlled from the kitchen side? Such a fun house to grow up in.) And then, in an eerie, lilting tone, my brother's voice could be heard from the other side: "It's coming for you, Gary! Do you hear it? It's cooominnnng for youuuu!"
Just like the mother wildebeest, my own mother could always recognize the sound of one of her calves in distress. Soon she arrived, hooves flying, driving off the hyena (the laughing variety, as usual) and saving me from certain death at the hands of God-knows-what that was slowly ascending the stairs behind me.
Over the years, I can't help but think about how often people have asked me, "How do you come up with these ideas?"
God, it is so easy.
© Gary Larson, The Complete Far Side