One of Gary Larson’s most surprising Far Side controversies occurred because readers misunderstood the comic strips‘ true intent. Larson once revealed that a 1988 comic featuring a dog on top of a car received plenty of backlash, as readers interpreted the image as graphic in nature. While Larson admitted that wasn’t his intention at all with the drawing, the comic led to him getting called “sick” and “offensive” in angry letters to the legendary cartoonist.
In The PreHistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit by Gary Larson, the cartoonist shared one of the more confusing reactions to one of his Far Side comic strips. The image, which featured a dog on top of a car howling with the caption “When car chasers dream,” was meant to convey the absurdist fantasy of a dog killing a car. However, Larson shared that by adding a transmission case to the bottom of the upside-down vehicle, it looked like the dog appeared to be “romantically entangled” with the car.
Gary Larson Got Plenty of Letters About The Misunderstood Far Side Strip
In the collection, Larson admitted he made one mistake, as the drawing did look like the dog was engaged in romantic activities with the car. As a result, he got many letters from readers upset with the Far Side strip. Among them were readers who called the comic “sick” and “offensive,” while others suggested it belonged in the pages of Playboy, not the newspaper. One reader even called Larson out for his lack of respect for readers.
Clearly, Larson meant no harm or offense with the image, even if it does appear that the dog in the Far Side strip looks like he is humping the vehicle he sits on top of. While Larson acknowledged the controversy and said it did resemble that, he made it clear that wasn’t his intention, as he asked, “What would the point of the cartoon be? Every dog’s fantasy is to make it with a car?” which is a completely fair point.
Larson’s Far Side comic strips were known for being absurd and making, at times, twisted observations, often involving animals in unusual situations. But make no mistake, the cartoonist never meant to portray a dog humping a car in the comic, as it just looked that way, leading to considerable controversy and strong reactions from some readers. Of course, Gary Larson’s Far Side never strayed from being bizarre, but in this case, it’s fair to cut him some slack, as how the image was interpreted by some mad readers was never his intention.