Kerry D. Soper reminds us of The Far Side's groundbreaking qualities and cultural significance in Gary Larson and "The Far Side." In the 1980s, Gary Larson (b. 1950) shook up a staid comics page by introducing a set of aesthetic devices, comedic tones, and philosophical frames that challenged and delighted many readers, even while upsetting and confusing others. His irreverent, single panels served as an alternative reality to the tame comedy of the family-friendly newspaper comics page, as well as the pervasive, button-down consumerism and conformity of the Reagan era. In this first full study of Larson's art, Soper follows the arc of the cartoonist's life and career, describing the aesthetic and comedic qualities of his work, probing the business side of his success, and exploring how The Far Side brand as a whole--with its iconic characters and accompanying set of comedic and philosophical frames--connected with its core readers. In effect, Larson reinvented his medium by creatively working within, pushing against, and often breaking past institutional, aesthetic, comedic, and philosophical parameters. Due to the comic's great success, it opened the door for additional alternative voices in comics and other popular mediums. With its intentionally awkward, minimalistic lines and its morbid humor, The Far Side expanded Americans' comedic palette and inspired up-and-coming cartoonists, comedians, and filmmakers. Soper re-creates the cultural climate and media landscape in which The Far Side first appeared and thrived, then assesses how it impacted worldviews and shaped the comedic sensibilities of a generation of cartoonists, comedy writers, and everyday fans.
A Comics Studies Reader offers the best of the new comics scholarship in nearly thirty essays on a wide variety of such comics forms as gag cartoons, editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, manga, and graphic novels. The anthology covers the pioneering work of Rodolphe Töpffer, the Disney comics of Carl Barks, and the graphic novels of Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, as well as Peanuts, romance comics, and superheroes. It explores the stylistic achievements of manga, the international anti-comics campaign, and power and class in Mexican comic books and English illustrated stories. A Comics Studies Reader introduces readers to the major debates and points of reference that continue to shape the field. It will interest anyone who wants to delve deeper into the world of comics and is ideal for classroom use.
Animal Acts records the history of the fluctuating boundary between animals and humans as expressed in literary, philosophical and scientific texts, as well as visual arts and historical practices such as dissection, circus acts, the hunt and zoos. The essays document a persistent return of animality, a becoming animal that has always existed within and at the margins of Western Culture from the Middle Ages to the present.