The Dark Side of the Far Side

Below is an email I received today.

VIA: email
June 9, 2011

Dear Mr. Balistreri,

Creators Syndicate, an international newspaper syndicate, handles all reprint permissions requests for use of Gary Larson’s The Far Side® cartoons following guidelines long established by Mr. Larson and his company FarWorks, Inc. (copyright owner to all Far Side images). In short, we approve or disapprove requests to reproduce Mr. Larson’s cartoons, and carefully monitor the ways in which they appear.

We are writing on behalf of FarWorks, Inc. and Gary Larson about the sixty five The Far Side cartoons that appear on your website, The cartoons we are referencing can be found here:

FarWorks has a serious problem with unauthorized uses of The Far Side worldwide. As a result, it does not allow online publication of works from The Far Side. No matter how insignificant a few uses may seem, it still amounts to making versions of the cartoons available in digital form for anyone to download, which makes it virtually impossible for Mr. Larson to control future uses, something that is very important to him.

Mr. Larson has tried to express his feelings about the digitization and reproduction of his cartoons online and why he asks that people not post his work on the Internet in an “open letter” he wrote some time ago. This letter is posted on our website ( and I have also included a copy of it here.

We ask that you please read the letter from Mr. Larson below, and respect his wishes by removing the cartoon from your website. Many thanks in advance for your cooperation.


Anica Wong
Permissions Department
Creators Syndicate
5777 W. Century Boulevard, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 337-7003

A Note From Gary Larson

RE: Online Use of The Far Side® Cartoons


I’m walking a fine line here.

On the one hand, I confess to finding it quite flattering that some of my fans have created web sites displaying and / or distributing my work on the Internet. And, on the other, I’m struggling to find the words that convincingly but sensitively persuade these Far Side enthusiasts to “cease and desist” before they have to read these words from some lawyer.

What impact this unauthorized use has had (and is having) in tangible terms is, naturally, of great concern to my publishers and therefore to me — but it’s not the focus of this letter. My effort here is to try and speak to the intangible impact, the emotional cost to me, personally, of seeing my work collected, digitized, and offered up in cyberspace beyond my control.

Years ago I was having lunch one day with the cartoonist Richard Guindon, and the subject came up how neither one of us ever solicited or accepted ideas from others. But, until Richard summed it up quite neatly, I never really understood my own aversions to doing this: “It’s like having someone else write in your diary,” he said. And how true that statement rang with me. In effect, we drew cartoons that we hoped would be entertaining or, at the very least, not boring; but regardless, they would always come from an intensely personal, and therefore original perspective.

To attempt to be “funny” is a very scary, risk-laden proposition. (Ask any stand-up comic who has ever “bombed “on stage.) But if there was ever an axiom to follow in this business, it would be this: be honest to yourself and — most important — respect your audience.

So, in a nutshell (probably an unfortunate choice of words for me), I only ask that this respect be returned, and the way for anyone to do that is to please, please refrain from putting The Far Side out on the Internet. These cartoons are my “children,” of sorts, and like a parent, I’m concerned about where they go at night without telling me. And, seeing them at someone’s web site is like getting the call at 2:00 a.m. that goes, “Uh, Dad, you’re not going to like this much, but guess where I am.”

I hope my explanation helps you to understand the importance this has for me, personally, and why I’m making this request.

Please send my “kids” home. I’ll be eternally grateful.

Most respectfully,

Gary Larson

Out of respect for Mr. Larson I have since removed the images, which are all readily available online and were not scanned or created in anyway by me. Honestly, I’m pretty disappointed by this though. This man who created this insanely wacky world of fun and comics has people trolling the net looking for unauthorized use of his images. Because he hasn’t made enough money off marketing it during its span and the decade plus since it ended and this might heart future revenue.

I’m pretty sure they have no legal ground, as I was not making any profit, but as I said I acquiesced out of respect for one of my favorite cartoonists and comic strips.

Pretty ridiculous though, and somewhat depressing. This was one of the two major comic strips I grew up loving and what inspired me to attempt become an artist myself. A little bit of magic died in my world today, and believe me, there ain’t much magic left in this cynic’s heart.

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