In 1990, I found myself working in Marshalltown.
A horrible place, in hindsight. At the time I didn’t have an own car and had to rely on public transport. That meant waiting for the bus. Lots of waiting because there were all of five buses on weekdays between home and anywhere else. “Elsewhere”, at least, included the bus terminus near Marshalltown plus a 10-minute walk to work.
And waiting for the bus meant killing time. Lots of it. So much so that every shop and store in the vicinity became boring after a while… bar one: the CNA down the road. Or, more specifically, the book section of the CNA down the road. It was a particularly quiet CNA, one that I had never visited before or since my Marshalltown tour of duty during which months I must’ve gone through just about every book on every conceivable subject that one could consume in the hours of waiting for the bus. Although I’m quite confident I left no bookmarks or dog-ears, some literature was interesting enough that that I regularly just continued reading where I had left off the day before.
And then I discovered the mother lode: Gary Larson.
Unbeknownst, I had actually been a longtime fan of his particular (and oft-imitated) style of black humour, and the paperback collections available at the CNA provided endless hours of entertainment.
And inspiration. You see, in those days even yours truly was a bit of a cartoonist. Nowhere near as prolific or famous or successful as Mr. Larson (or as good as childhood friend and quasi-mentor Rico Schacherl) but still not that shabby. Lacking ideas, though. And rummaging through the Far Side books gave me plenty. Lots of ideas. So many ideas, in fact, that some cartoons I memorised and eventually re-drew from scratch later on.
This is one of them: Gary’s original vs. Herby’s version.
Surprisingly, this is also the first time I’d ever compared the two versions side by side.
Quite possibly my favourite cartoon… ever!
This I can say with absolute honesty because over the years I’ve gradually collected all those Gary Larson books, culminating in the canonical “18-pound hernia giver” compendium from 2003 which replaces the paperbacks I recently put up for sale. Come to think of it, my cartooning skills were all but erased after I bought my first PC while Rico went on to develop his successful Madam & Eve strips.
And since I’m currently busy converting tapes originally recorded during that exact same period, another intersection in the time-space continuum called life is reached, and this particular loop can be closed, too.
PS: Cats? Cats again. Dang!
Image credits: Scans by hmvh.net