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.

Bizarro



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.

Rubes




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.

Non Sequitur



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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16 comments:

125records said...

Another contender: Ballard Street.
http://www.ballardstreet.com/

DemetriosX said...

This is a difficult category, and one which you could have made a lot more crowded.

Argyle Sweater: I only see this one when it crops up at Comics I don't Understand. Which it seems to do a lot. A very strong contender.

Bizarro: This one is often a little too hip for the room, but it doesn't often miss completely. OK, it winds up at CIDU a lot, too, but when it does, the answer is frequently obvious.

Rubes: Very, very close to Argyle Sweater. It hits a little more often, though not much more.

Non Sequitur: When he isn't giving us Danae or the other residents of that small town in Maine, Wiley is usually being political. I think that disqualifies it from this category.

Potential write-ins could include Ballard Street, as 125records noted, although that was actually a contemporary of The Far Side, or Close to Home, which usually falls flat, but when it hits, it hits big.

I think I'm going to have to go with Argyle Sweater by a nose over Rubes.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I voted Bizarro, because when it first started showing up in the PG I was reminded of Far Side more often then not

Anonymous said...

In the Bleachers by Steve Moore.

Anonymous said...

Close to Home!
I've seen them rip off so many specific Far Sides

Devin said...

Close to Home! It's like Far Side, if Gary Larson could only draw really unattractive fat people with googly eyes, and was also not as funny (but that last bit is a given, no?).

Lesser Whark said...

In Australia, we have Insanity Streak. About once a fortnight it steals from a specific Far Side, and every time it fails to comprehend the erudite asides that made the original so funny.

It's the only one I suffer in my daily paper, so it gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

How could you forget Close to Home?
Every character has the same mushy face, every joke relies on the character staring at a huge sign.

Mela said...

Like others said, a real, true Far Side wanna-be that needs to be called out is "Close to Home". Still, this list has some real contenders. In fact, all of them but "Non Sequitur" (whose content depends on whether someone successfully slipped Wiley his meds that day) are really blatant rip-offs.

My vote ultimately went to "Rubes" because, wow, that art is trying too hard to look like Gary Larson's college stuff. It's extra sad. At least the others have their own visual looks.

avatarjk137 said...

Others include Brevity and to an extent F Minus, but those aren't as bad as these. I have to go with Argyle Sweater, but I don't know Rubes personally.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the biggest Far Side clone has to be Loose Parts. Look it up. There is little difference except the humor.

john said...

There are a lot more Far Side clones than this, especially, as noted by another commentor, Close to Home, whose aritst could not draw himself out of a wet paper bag.

Bizzaro at least is funny a lot of the time, and Steve Piraro can actually draw.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget "The Flying McCoys" (named after the authors, natch) and "The Other Coast" (whose very title is a ripoff).

No wait. Forget them both. Then tell me how you did it.

brushfiremedia said...

Close to Home. It's been mentioned here already and I'll second (or third, or whatever) it. Just abysmal.

Maren said...

Another write-in for Close to Home. I have an odd compulsion to read every comic in my newspaper every day, and I often roll my eyes so hard at that one it hurts.

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