Anyone With a Scanner & Associates

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

The Far Side finally has a home on the Internet, and its creator has penned this letter about how it came about:

Hard to believe.

It’s been close to 25 years since I decided to retire my trusty Rapidograph X500, with added Comfort Grip, Turbo Flow, and Steadycow. (I especially loved that last option.) That was a nice pen. We went places. But just around the time the two of us were emerging from our adventure down one rabbit hole, another one suddenly loomed.

Back then, the Internet was a cute little Internet-ling, its cold, digital eyes just starting to open. The first website (I just looked this up) debuted only a couple years prior to my retirement, Google came along several years later, and Facebook was launched a full decade after I had drawn my last cow. Meaning, like most of my generation, I was pretty much clueless about this new technology that was on the rise. Hell, I was still marveling at the wonders of my electric pencil sharpener. (I splurged.)

But as the digital world gathered speed, I was as excited as most of us who lived outside the tech world (and back then, as a cartoonist, you couldn’t get much further outside of tech unless maybe you were a coal miner) and were seeing all these amazing tools unfold. Tools to help us better communicate, write, explore, and learn. (Of course, soon to be adding hack, steal, exploit, deceive, bully, and maybe destroy democracy, but hey, what’re a few wrinkles? We’ll figure this out. Or not.) Naively, I now realize, I never once foresaw any connection between this emergent technology and my cartoons. I had spent years drawing The Far Side for (real) newspapers, which segued into (real) books and (real) calendars. These, as some of you may recall, were rather quaint, three-dimensional objects that could also double as flyswatters. What did the Internet have to do with me? Cue the scary music.

Okay, “scary” might be a little melodramatic, but years ago, when I slowly started realizing I had a second publisher and distributor of my work, known as Anyone With a Scanner & Associates, I did find it unsettling enough to write an open letter to “whom it may concern,” explaining — best as I could — why I preferred that the people doing this would kindly refrain. I won’t rehash it all here, but my powers of persuasion had at least some impact, and many of my fans were very understanding and responsive. Maybe it takes a warped mind to understand a warped mind. (No, seriously, my thanks to those who removed my cartoons willingly, or even begrudgingly.)

So fast-forward to today, and hey, look! I’m writing another letter! This time, though, I’m writing to say something I never thought I would: Welcome to The Far Side website! Guess I’ve got some ’splainin’ to do.


  1. Graham says:

    “and maybe destroy democracy”?

    Is there a macro installed on everybody’s computer that just adds that sort of thing to every comment on the internet, or indeed any subject?

    How would Larson react to the sordid pamphleteering cultures with which democracy started?

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