06:28 GMT15 May 2021
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    Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” comics, which ran from 1979 to 1995, helped to popularize “nerd humor,” and the endearing response given him by scientists resulted in a species of insect being named after Larson, as well as framed prints of his comics being hung in many a science lab.

    It’s unclear how exactly Twitter began talking about the Far Side comics, but that’s probably how creator Gary Larson would have liked it. One way or another, thousands of people around the globe began sharing their favorite entries of the single-frame comic that ran in US newspapers and magazines for 16 years, causing the comic's name to begin trending on Wednesday.

    The Far Side often dealt with ironic and absurd situations that would have otherwise been mundane, but for a minor misunderstanding or slight change of a word. Many involved puns based on popular English-language idioms and proverbs, while others peddled in “shock value” that was often just as surreal.

    Talk about the comic quickly got folks sharing their favorites, which despite having not been in print for 26 years, still continue to evoke endearment.

    The Far Side was so popular during its run from 1976 to 1995 that it even influenced science! Until a 1982 Far Side comic about cavemen studying parts of a stegosaurus referred to the dinosaur’s spiked tail as a “thagomizer,” paleontologists had no such name for it. However, the novel name tickled many scientists’ funny bones and they subsequently adopted “thagomizer” as a casual, non-scientific name for the tail spikes.
    The “Cow Tools” comic, another 1982 conversation-maker, was found by many readers to be utterly baffling. After becoming overwhelmed with inquiries, Larson issued a rare press release to set folks’ minds at ease - although it’s unlikely he succeeded, since his explanation was effectively that he had failed to make a funny comic.

    Larson briefly revived The Far Side in December 2019, posting a handful of new comics on a website that also posts selections from the complete archive of Far Side comics that is also hosted on the site. He told the New York Times that while he intends to post new comics periodically, he mostly hoped the presence of an official site would compel other websites to stop hosting them and redirect readers to the site.

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    Tags:
    ironic, surrealism, Twitter, comics
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