Framing the Dialogue

The Incomplete Far Side

One of my first posts was a review of a compilation of the complete works of Gary Larson’s The Far Side.  It is perhaps the most viewed post of my web site.  Two days ago I received an email message from Mr. Larson’s company or agent who apparently surfs the web looking for unauthorized uses of Mr. Larson’s works.  I admit to having used a few cartoons as part of my review, but I do believe that their use was reasonable and part of my review though I have to admit to getting carried away.  Perhaps I was enjoying his work too much.  I was somewhat offended by the implication that I somehow was illegally using Larson’s work and true to my form substituted this image for the cartoons:

This is an excerpt from a letter from Mr. Larson that was included with the official notice:

“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…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.”

Here is an open letter to Mr. Larson…

Dear Mr. Larson;

Just admit that it’s all about the money and there is nothing wrong with that.  You own the cartoons, but to somehow equate the cartoons to your children is silly and disingenuous.  I somehow suspect that should I be in the position to pay you a sum of money you would somehow find your way to allowing me to use your “children” on the Internet.  Again that is what capitalism is and I am all for it.  Just admit it.


FramingThe Dialogue

2 CommentsLeave one

  1. Annette says:

    As a former fan of the Far Side, I must now admit that I am quite disappointed with Gary Larson. His cartoons have made many of us believe that he is an intelligent man with a sense of humor, and through the years, in a seriousness, hasn’t the man made quite a bundle of money at our expense?

    Let me be clear here. I do not think that in any way that a book review actually endorsing and giving Larson’s work a favorable review in any way disrespects his work or should cause him any emotional distress. When books are reviewed, authors and photographers are usually pleased to have their work favorably reviewed and also have photographs, illustrations and quotes included within the reviews. For an cartoonist and publisher to object to a positive review with samples of the work is just ridiculous. This is a digital age, and Larson had better come to grips that his work is going to be put out there digitally in cyberspace whether he and his publishers like it or not. He can’t have it both ways.

    Let’s be honest here, before the “Complete Far Side” was published, how many times did he and his publishers prostitute his “children” for sale in various re-packages and books that included the same cartoons? Yes, Mr. Larson, it’s OK if you exploit your “children,” it’s just not alright if you don’t have control of the media and profit from it, is that the problem?

    Anytime something is put out there in the public forum in print or photographic form, it will be subject to use by other parties. I am a photographer, and although I have provided my work for free to people and have requested only a photo credit, very rarely have I been accorded that professional courtesy, despite my work helping various non-profit groups, private businesses and individuals.

    People are still using my work to help themselves, their causes, and their professional images digitally on the internet and in other media forms, but there is nothing I can do to prevent it. I could write intimidating letters as Mr. Larson’s publishers do or sound like a whiny jerk as Larson does, but that would only hurt my reputation which I work hard to maintain. I do what practical people do in these situations. I may complain, but I have to realize that I have no control over the world wide internet and move on. Mr. Larson, enjoy your money and move on. You don’t control the world. Deal with it.

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