Monday, March 29, 2010
NCCCC 2010 Round 2 - Faux Far Side
In the first round of the National Crappy Comics Copy Cats™, we looked at strips trying to fill the big shoes of Calvin and Hobbes. An even bigger and much missed comic strip was the off-beat and relentlessly eccentric Far Side. Gary Larson is as much a part of geek culture as Monty Python or The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. There is a Far Side for any situation. It's hard to believe that their have not been any new strips since 1995. For fifteen years we have had to relive the strips in the endless books, calendars and tee shirts or put up with its many pale imitators. Which brings us to our next category:
Faux Far Sides
And the heirs to the throne cover a lot of different territories. Here are a few of the most blatant flatterers.
The Argyle Sweater
Stylistically, you couldn't find a closer cousin to the Far Side than The Argyle Sweater right down to the line style and shading. It has mad scientists, anthropomorphic animals and oddball geeks. The humor is also dependent on bad puns, odd juxtapositions and surreal situations. And when it misses it misses big.
When it comes to surreal situations, no strip out-DaDas Dan Piraro's Bizarro. Full of trademark signatures like pie slices and dynamite sticks. The humor is perplexing and off-beat to point of opaqueness. There is almost and Emperor's New Clothes quality to many of the jokes. You don't want to declare yourself too unhip to get the gag even if there may not be any funny there.
If you wanted to design a Far Side Lite, you couldn't do much worse than Rubes. Relying on the typical single panel tropes, the jokes are clever but not too deep. It lacks any sort of post-modern twist. Just standard gags executed competently.
Before it had any continuing characters, Non Sequitur was, just as its title implied, a random series of gag-a-day strips. While drawn in a standard strip format, the sensibility was that of a square single panel. And it covered a lot of Far Side territory: cave men, oddball animals, and subtle puns.
There will never be another Far Side. It covered so much ground, it's tough to do a truly fresh take. That doesn't keep people from trying. So which strip is trying a little too hard?
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