Gary Larson and Our ‘Far Side’ Cease & Desist
Here at ComicMix, we can admit when we’ve made a mistake — luckily for us, we don’t make mistakes very often.
Nevertheless, we want to inform you that we were caught red-handed this week, having posted a cartoon from The Far Side in our Jan. 1, 2008, post commemorating the end of the popular Gary Larson series.
After receiving a "Cease and Desist" notice from FarWorks Inc., the copyright owner for all of the Far Side art, we’ve removed the Far Side art from the article.
However, while C&D orders are a fairly common practice these days and the letter from FarWorks was pretty much your standard fill-in-the-blanks notification, a message tacked to the end of the C&D caught our eye. It’s a form letter that looks to be authored by Gary Larson himself, explaining the philosophical implications of his stance against unauthorized use of Far Side art, as well as an anecdote or two in typical Far Side form.
We’ve pasted the message here to save you the trouble of posting Far Side art all over your website and waiting for a C&D of your own:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
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.
You have our most sincere apologies, Gary. Sorry about that whole "kidnapping your kids" thing. It won’t happen again.