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10 Darkest Far Side Comics About Dinosaurs – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

10 Darkest Far Side Comics About Dinosaurs



Renowned for its peculiar yet perceptive approach to nature, The Far Side stands out for its unique portrayal of dinosaurs. Gary Larson, the mastermind behind The Far Side, has crafted dino-comics that have garnered immense adoration, to the point where his term for the tail spikes of a stegosaurus has been adopted by real-life scientists. However, dinosaurs also offer Larson the opportunity to delve into the darker realms of humor, setting The Far Side apart from its counterparts in the realm of newspaper comics. Presented here are the ten darkest Far Side comics featuring dinosaurs, where razor-toothed creatures and impending extinction allow the comic to abandon any semblance of innocence and strike at the heart.

10. New Dinosaur Eggs: Two hapless archaeologists find themselves in for a grim surprise when a mother T-Rex returns home to discover them meddling with her newly hatched eggs. In true Far Side fashion, the strip leaves much to the imagination, with the menacing shadow of the predator looming over the two humans. Larson has previously discussed the challenges of condensing the context of a joke into a single panel, and this comic serves as a prime example of his mastery in this technique, as the T-Rex’s shadow provides crucial context for the impending danger just beyond the frame.

9. It’s Roughage: A carnivorous dinosaur sternly warns a shocked companion about the unsuitability of certain prey, while an indifferent ankylosaur strolls by unperturbed. One of The Far Side’s finest dark humor tactics is enhancing the self-awareness of predators while leaving their instincts intact. The quaint phrasing, subtle expressions of the dinosaurs, and minimalist composition all contribute to the central concept of brutal predation as an ordinary part of life.

8. Dinosaurs Mock a Mammal: Depicting a classic “bullies vs. nerd” scenario, two dinosaurs laugh uproariously at a peculiar-looking primitive mammal, while a third observes with concern as the first few snowflakes start to fall. This comic requires a certain level of knowledge to fully appreciate – the era of dinosaurs is coming to an end, and it is the small, furry animals that will ultimately survive the impending Ice Age. The joke grows darker the longer one ponders it – these three dinosaur “bullies” may soon face their comeuppance, but in reality, it means they are about to freeze to death. Larson has previously discussed how The Far Side evokes a specific type of dread in readers because, as a comic, it freezes a single moment in time. Any act of violence lingers indefinitely, occurring whenever the reader returns, and any imminent danger is always on the verge of unfolding. This notion further intensifies the bleakness of this comic, as the three dinosaurs perpetually teeter on the edge of extinction, with one slowly comprehending their impending doom.

7. Jurassic Calendars: The banality of modern life is distilled into an eternal image of a Tyrannosaur crossing off its daily tasks, each revolving around “killing something and eating it.” This joke once again transforms vicious predation into an everyday occurrence, but credit must be given to The Far Side’s art for two ingenious touches. First, the comical portrayal of the T-Rex’s minuscule arms, and second, the brutish depiction of its eyes and mouth, emphasizing the reality that numerous innocent and presumably intelligent beings have been torn apart by this colossal dinosaur.

6. Closer, Dug, Closer: In another instance of The Far Side imbuing a single panel with contextual richness, the caveman Dug approaches a clearly untamed pteranodon, urged on by its owner, who, upon closer inspection, has been brutally mauled by his “pet.” Once again, there is an imminent promise of violence, accompanied by a commentary on how irresponsible pet owners often overestimate their animals despite previous behaviors. The most ingenious aspect lies in the ambiguity surrounding whether the unnamed owner is intentionally leading Dug into harm’s way or is simply incapable of predicting what will transpire.

5. Since the Kids Are in Bed: A domestic scene unfolds between two bloodthirsty predators, with a dinosaur husband playfully suggesting an adventurous evening of hunting and devouring herbivores to his wife. This comic delves deeper into anthropomorphizing its subjects compared to others, as the dinosaurs possess newspapers, a small television, and even comical 1950s glasses. There is an eerie quality to the more colloquial term “planteaters,” and the female T-Rex’s mismatched teeth give her the appearance of a towering monster rather than a mere prehistoric creature. It is worth noting that, in this case, The Far Side deviates from reality. Prevailing theories suggest that male Tyrannosaurs did not partake in familial roles but were more likely to consume their offspring rather than tuck them into bed.

4. Humpty Dumpty: Some Far Side comics genuinely foreshadowed (and possibly influenced) the future of irreverent humor, and the notably absurd Humpty Dumpty strip stands as one of the series’ best jokes. The juxtaposition of the creature’s belligerent expression and the joyful face on the shattered eggshell is pure genius. The comic’s double-weirdness arises from a world where knights tend to a broken egg-man while coexisting with dinosaurs. This strip answers a question that most people never even considered – if Humpty Dumpty is a giant, living egg, what lies within, waiting to hatch? Curiously, this points to one of the most surreal aspects of pop culture: the Humpty Dumpty rhyme never explicitly states that he is an egg.

3. Bobby Felt Very Alone: This tragic tale depicts an innocent, fun-loving young dinosaur confronted by the extinction of its species. The Far Side often manages to incorporate darkness by using cartoon animals, but in this case, it is difficult to overlook the fact that the comic portrays a child whose friends have all perished, with the implication that they are next. Perhaps the most intriguing element of this strip, aside from the idea of dinosaurs playing baseball, is the presence of signs indicating the extinction of various dinosaur species, suggesting that someone is documenting and posting notices each time another species vanishes.

2. Look Out, Thak!: The Far Side displays linguistic creativity alongside visual surrealism, as evidenced in this comic. It toys with the idea that the “pt” in “pteranodon” is silent when written, making it challenging for a caveman to pronounce. Additionally, it highlights the fact that scientific names coined in the 1800s extend back into prehistoric times. And of course, it plays with the notion that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted. The comic captures the perfect moment, implying that the enormous creature has descended so silently that Thak, facing it, remains oblivious to its approach. Comics possess the ability to freeze each moment in time, and here, The Far Side seizes the ideal moment, just after an impossible setup, and just before gruesome violence ensues.

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1. Mitch Loses a Dollar: When The Far Side has courted controversy, it is often due to its depiction of moments that some readers interpret as animal cruelty. This comic undoubtedly falls into that category, as it portrays a T-Rex trapped in a makeshift basement, exploited for entertainment by an owner who invites friends over to feed the unfortunate creature random objects. However, the true darkness lies in the unspoken implication that this situation will inevitably end in tragedy for all involved. The T-Rex’s unfocused eyes deviate from The Far Side’s usual humanization of predators, and it is clear that this killing machine is being futilely restrained by a simple rope and pulley system, all at the hands of a foolish owner. The fact that these are modern humans rather than stock cavemen adds a slightly darker layer to the comic. Essentially, this Far Side comic revisits the same concept as “Closer, Dug, Closer,” but with a more bizarre setting that heightens the underlying darkness.

Known for taking a surreal but insightful attitude to nature, many of The Far Side‘s best comics extend this logic to dinosaurs. Indeed, Gary Larson’s dino-comics are so beloved, his term for a stegosaurus’ tail spikes was actually adopted by real-life scientists. However, dinosaurs also give Larson the chance to indulge The Far Side‘s tendency to go darker than its newspaper-comic peers.

Here, then, are the 10 darkest Far Side comics about dinosaurs, in which razor-toothed beasts and incoming extinction allow the comic to shed any semblance of Marmaduke-like purity and go for the jugular.

10 New Dinosaur Eggs

far side tyrannosaurus eggs 1

Two hapless archeologists are about to be met with a grim surprise when a mother T-Rex returns home to find them handling her newly hatched eggs. Typical to The Far Side‘s darkest jokes, the strip leaves much to the imagination, with the terrifying predator’s shadow looming over the two on-panel humans. Larson has talked before about the difficulties of fitting all the context for a joke into a single panel, and this comic is a great example of how he’s mastered the technique, with the shadow of the T-Rex giving readers vital context for what’s waiting just off-panel.

9 It’s Roughage

the far side roughage

A carnivorous dinosaur warns his shocked friend in no uncertain terms that certain prey is no good, as an impassive ankylosaur saunters past unperturbed. One of The Far Side‘s best dark-humor tricks is to increase the self-awareness of predators while leaving their instincts intact. The quaint phrasing, subtle personality in the dinosaurs’ expressions, and minimalism of the composition all add to the core idea of making brutal predation a mundane part of life.

8 Dinosaurs Mock a Mammal

the far side dinosaurs laugh at mammal

In a classic “bullies vs. nerd” dynamic, two dinosaurs stand guffawing at a goofy-looking primitive mammal, while a third looks on with concern as the first few snowflakes begin falling. It’s a comic that takes a little knowledge to appreciate – the time of the dinosaurs is at an end, and the small, furry animals are the ones who’ll actually survive the coming Ice Age. The joke gets darker the longer the reader sits with it – these three ‘bully’ dinosaurs may be about to get their just deserts, but in real terms, what that actually means is that they’re about to freeze to death.

Gary Larson has discussed in the past how The Far Side manages to evoke a specific type of dread in some readers because as a comic, it freezes a single moment in time. Any moment of violence lasts forever, still happening whenever the reader returns, and any impending danger is always just about to unfold. That idea makes this comic even bleaker, as three dinosaurs stand perpetually on the edge of extinction, with one just beginning to figure out how doomed they are.

7 Jurassic Calendars

the far side jurassic calendars

The banality of modern existence is distilled into the timeless image of an early-morning X-ing off of the calendar, with the twist that, for a Tyrannosaur, each of their day’s tasks can be condensed into a variation of “kill something and eat it.” It’s another joke where vicious predation becomes mundane, but The Far Side‘s art deserves credit for two great touches. First, the comical use of the T-Rex’s tiny arms, and second, the brutish set of the eyes and mouth, which drive home the reality that a lot of innocent, presumably intelligent beings have been torn apart by this gigantic dinosaur.

6 Closer, Dug, Closer

the far side dinosaur dug

In another example of The Far Side loading context into a single panel, the caveman Dug approaches a clearly undomesticated pteranodon, urged on by the owner… who on closer inspection has been absolutely savaged by his ‘pet.’ Again, there’s the promise of violence about to unfold, but also a certain degree of commentary on how irresponsible pet owners overestimate their animals despite all prior behavior. Perhaps the most ingenious part: the ambiguity as to whether or not the unnamed owner is attempting to trick Dug into injury, or is simply totally unable to predict what’s about to happen.

Related: 10 Best Far Side Comics About Dinosaurs

5 Since the Kids Are in Bed

the far side dinosaur comic kids are in bed

A domestic scene between two bloodthirsty predators, with a dinosaur husband playfully suggesting an adventurous evening to his wife… of hunting down and devouring herbivores. This comic goes further than most in anthropomorphizing its subjects, as the dinosaurs gets newspapers, a tiny television, and even comical ’50s glasses. There’s something particularly dark about the more colloquial ‘planteaters,’ and the female T-Rex’s mismatched teeth create the image of a towering monster rather than just a prehistoric animal. It’s worth noting that in this case, The Far Side is actually lighter than reality. Prevailing theories state that male Tyrannosaurs didn’t stick around and play house with their ‘families’ – they were much more likely to eat their kids than put them to bed.

4 Humpty Dumpty

the far side humpty dumpty

There are some Far Side comics that genuinely predicted (and likely shaped) the future of irreverent humor, and this famously absurdist Humpty Dumpty strip provides perhaps one of the best jokes in the entire run. There’s a genius juxtaposition between the expression of belligerence on the creature’s face and the joyful face on the shattered eggshell, and the double-weirdness of a world that has knights attending to a broken egg-man… but also contains dinosaurs. The strip answers a question most people never thought to ask – if Humpty Dumpty is a giant, living egg, what’s inside waiting to hatch? Of course, even this points to one of the most surreal facts in pop culture – nowhere in the Humpty Dumpty rhyme does it actually say he’s an egg.

3 Bobby Felt Very Alone

the far side dinosaur bobby

A tragic tale of an innocent, fun-loving dinosaur youth being confronted by the extinction of his clade. The Far Side often gets away with surprising darkness by dealing with cartoon animals, but here it’s hard to avoid the fact that the comic depicts a kid whose friends are all dead, and the unshakable implication that he’s next. Perhaps the best part of this strip, other than the implication of dinosaurs playing baseball, is that someone is writing and posting signs whenever another species of dinosaurs is wiped out.

2 Look Out, Thak!

look out thak the far side dinosaur

The Far Side is as linguistically adventurous as it is visually surreal, and here plays with several fun ideas. First, that because the ‘pt’ of ‘pteranodon’ is silent when written down, it’s hard to pronounce for a caveman, second that scientific names coined in the 1800s stretch back into prehistory, and third – obviously – that humans and dinosaurs ever overlapped. The Far Side also picks the perfect moment in time, implying that the gigantic creature has somehow flown down so silently that Thak, who is facing towards it, didn’t notice its approach. Comics have the benefit of freezing each moment in time, and here The Far Side finds the perfect moment right after an impossible set-up, and right before grisly violence.

1 Mitch Loses a Dollar

Mitch loses a dollar

When The Far Side has faced controversy, it’s almost always been by depicting moments that some readers took as animal cruelty. That’s surely the case here, as a T-Rex is kept trapped in a makeshift basement, used for entertainment by an owner who apparently invites his friends over to feed the poor creature random objects. However, the real darkness comes from the implication – not even part of the joke – that this situation has to end in tragedy for everyone involved.

The unfocused eyes of the T-Rex avoid The Far Side‘s usual humanization of predators, and it’s clearly a killing machine that the foolish owner hopes to keep under control with a simple rope and pulley. Things are made slightly darker by these being modern humans, rather than stock cavemen. This Far Side comic essentially revisits the same idea as Dug and the pteradon, but with a more bizarre setting that makes the darkness even more unsettling.

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