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Wildlife Preserves: The Far side | by Michael Vance1
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Wildlife Preserves: The Far side

Suspended Animation Classic #111

Originally published Feb. 10, 1991 (#6)


Wildlife Preserves: The Far Side

By Michael Vance


The gift of cartoonists is a different perspective on life. While it’s true they bring experiences to their cartoons that are common to us all, cartoonists are able to look at mundane events with a twist, a glance from an odd angle not wholly dependent on education or environment. In short, they’re whacked.


Gary Larson is so whacked that he must view life through, well, crossed eyes.


As tourists drive through the high grass of Africa on the cover of the thirteenth collection of “The Far Side”, they casually snap photographs of lions and rhinos in gigantic fruit jars. That’s why the book’s called “Wildlife Preserves”.


This Larson wackiness is not as dark as Chas Addam’s cartoons from “The New Yorker” magazine that made our skin crawl and inspired “The Addams Family” television show. There’s no black core at the heart of Larson’s cow, either, who, wearing a fruit arrangement on its head, is named Cowman Miranda. In “Playboy”, cartoonist Gahan Wilson would have frightened us more. But Larson’s twist is to parallel the silliness of humans and cows who wear fruit.


So, what is the angle that Larson, striking true and striking home, uses to make us laugh? It’s a simple one. We take life too seriously. We need to put a lampshade on our heads occasionally before we bust a gut.


Larson’s lampshade is that kid sitting at the breakfast table, his arms spread wide, who’s parting the water in his glass. Moses as a kid.


Gary Larson is a party hat. He helps us to cut loose and be silly on the far side of sanity. It feels good. Highly recommended.


“Wildlife Preserves: The Far Side”/published by Andrews and McMeel, $6.95, 104 pages/available in bookstores.


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Uploaded on May 23, 2009