Good morning! And what a lovely morning it is. We have something very special to tell our readers. Research shows you daily spend 4.6 minutes with the newspaper, leaving you 0.6 minutes to spend on this story. Better get to the point.
This is something very special. Without further delay (the clock is ticking!) let's get to it.
No, it's not a special offer of a $36 Sun sweat shirt featuring your favorite features writer. And no, The Evening Sun won't be exhumed. This is even more special.
So, without further delay, dear readers, please welcome back to our pages the fabulous, the wonderful, the hilarious, the memorable, the framable, the best darn cartoon panel a quality, hometown newspaper could deliver to its readers
Put that coffee down, Dad Kids, hold that homework Fido, hold that bladder
Let's all welcome back
"THE FAR SIDE."
Call the school, call work -- you ain't going nowhere today. Gary Larson's back in town with new "Far Side" cartoons. This is a good thing for many reasons that we don't have the time to get into. So, in brief:
1. "The Far Side" is the best. Has been. Will be again. Everybody sees it. Offices everywhere have "Far Side" cartoons tacked to bulletin boards. Everyone has a favorite "Far Side" cartoon. Just ask everyone.
It's become a password to determine what kind of people we associate with. "Do you like 'Far Side?' " determines suitability in a mate or friend. The question has replaced "Are you married?" and "What gym do you work out in?"
2. The best available research shows that when "Far Side" ran, readers spent an additional 0.8 minutes with the newspaper, simultaneously spending an additional 0.8 minutes not with their mates or friends. And research showed that when Larson semi-retired-sort-of in January of 1995, "Far Side" lovers wept openly.
Gutted and disoriented, they turned to "Family Circus" for cheap, fun companionship. But, alas, they found no deer with bull's eye birthmarks and no dogs whispering to their sleeping owner, "p-p-p-u-u-t-t-t- t-h-e- c-c-a-a-t-t- o-o-u-u-t-t." Day after day, "Far Side" fanatics -- Far-Siders -- searched for a cartoon showing two spiders that have built a web at the base of a children's slide. A plump boy is seconds away from sliding, and one spider says to the other: "We pull this off, we eat like kings tonight."
Grieve no more, Far-Siders. Larson, our creator, has semi-unretired-sort-of. This week, "Far Side" cartoons return.
But here's the catch -- or what journalists call "the buried lede." The catch is but first, children, be advised to use discretion before allowing your parents to read further. This could upset them.
"Far Side" is not coming back full-time. For this week only, new cartoons will appear because they are a plug for Larson's new book, which is "Last Chapter and Worse," which is selling a lot. The book has 13 new cartoons; newspapers get to run four this week.
But we are not complaining. We've already seen the new cartoons, and the panels are up to Larson's warped, wonderful standards. It would be pointless and a waste of precious time to describe the new cartoons. They will speak for themselves.
Larson, however, will not speak for himself. He has this thing about privacy and not doing many interviews. These artists get famous, and the first thing they do is act like talking to hundreds of niggling reporters is an imposition. They act like they got work to do or something.
Anyway, Universal Press Syndicate has provided "An Interview with Gary Larson." If you've never seen a syndicate release, it cheerfully starts off with: NOT FOR RELEASE UNTIL PURCHASED OR SOONER THAN OCT. 6. It's what they call an "embargo" in the biz. Any newspaper in violation must run the comic strip "Nancy."
The following excerpt represents, we think, the best of the Universal Press Syndicate interview with Gary Larson:
Q: Do you consider yourself a normal person?
For more probing questions, we contacted Hugh Andrews, the director of marketing for a company that directs marketing for Universal Press Syndicate. Andrews is the numbers man and a very happy one at that. "You should have seen us when the new cartoons came into our office," he says. "We'd love for Gary to start drawing daily again." Gee, there's a news flash, Hugh.
By the numbers, Larson's "Last Chapter and Worse" has been in the stores just three weeks, and all 600,000 copies are going fast. A second printing has begun. Since the daily panel stopped last year, "interest went up drastically," Andrews says. Another news flash. At that time, Universal shipped out 750,000 copies of Larson's latest collection.
Larson now has 45 million "Far Side" books in print. Throw in another $5 million worth of "Far Side" box calendars, desk and wall calendars, and you've got a guy who can do his interviews by fax any time he pleases. OK by us.
So, enjoy "Far Side" this week. It's brought to you by your favorite hometown paper. Not to tease, but we love the cartoon captioned, "When dumb animals attempt murder." You'll see it.
The remaining three Far Side cartoons will run on page 2 of the Today section Tuesday through Thursday.
Pub Date: 10/07/96