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Gary Larson in a Nutshell – Remembering Paul Boyd

2012 Mental Health Humor - ICSI Indian Crime Scene Investigation - by Chato Stewart  in Gary Larson Style cartoon  100I grew up reading Gary Larson‘s cartoon book over and over again until it fell apart.  It’s not hard to see his influence in my drawings of cartoons. In fact, many of the single cell cartoons you find online are influenced by his humor and twisted look on life.

He was the first mental health humorist! For example, in one of his cartoons the caption went, “The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by The Chicken of Depression.”  This cartoon in Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” was published in 1988.

If you don’t know this famous comic strip/cartoon syndicated Universal Press Syndicate, you must live in a cave! I guarantee that you’ve seen one of his thousands of cartoons online. Here is the sad part, almost all the cartoons you see online of Gary Larson’s work…are stolen and fall into copyright infringement!

Gary Larson has not published any cartoons, to my knowledge, in a long time. He retired from daily panels of “The Far Side” on January 1, 1995. He did do animated films: “Gary Larson’s Tales From The Far Side” I and II, then dropped out of site. 

2007 brought some sad news, one of the ani­ma­tors with Global Mechanic, Paul Boyd, was killed by a Van­cou­ver police offi­cer.  Paul Boyd had suf­fered from Bipo­lar Dis­or­der for 20 years and had been severely depressed, and “allegedly attacked police with a bicy­cle chain. He was shot after a strug­gle with officers.” Paul Boyd’s father says his son was “on his hands and knees when he was shot.”  What is the connection between Paul Boyd and Larson? Paul Boyd worked as an ani­ma­tor on Gary Larson’s Tales From the Far Side.

I bring this up for one reason. On March 19, 2012, a five-year investigation whether or not the officers involved will have: “No charge against Vancouver officer who fatally shot Paul Boyd.”  There’s been no “official” response by Gary Larson’s people over this tragedy. In fact, there hasn’t been much written by Gary Larson at all…well, until a letter was published by his editor from Larson worried about, of all things, the use of his work.

I don’t know what kind of relationship Paul Boyd had with Gary. Of course, I’m not privy to any personal correspondence between them…Still, I would’ve hoped that he reached out to the grieving family in one way or another.

Last year September 2011, Gary Larson wrote an open letter “TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,” directed more towards the Illegal use of his work online or “cyberspace” taking his work and using it for free. (You can see that letter below.)  While I’m still a fan of Gary Larson’s “Far Side,” I am disappointed that the first time I read anything about him has to be a “cease-and-desist” letter to everyone stealing his work.

I was going to do a whole week of Gary Larson “style” cartoons in homage to “The Far Side,” however, right now after reading the verdict about my peer Paul Boyd, I don’t feel right doing it.  I’ve drawn the cartoons and maybe in the future, I will share them.  Today’s cartoon is a Chato Stewart, Mental Health Humor original. It’s not a copy of any characters drawn by Gary Larson or a reproduction.

Instead, it is just a cartoon influenced by my love of Mr. Larson’s work!  To Gary Larson, in a nutshell, Please – remember Paul Boyd publicly.

Crazy Horse:  Hmmm, Running Bull find hair… Me need’em DNA test kit.

Title: ICSI – Indian Crime Scene Investigation


A Note from Gary Larson RE: Online Use of Far Side Cartoons


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.

Most respectfully,

Gary Larson


Friend me on Facebook @chato B Stewart.



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Gary Larson in a Nutshell – Remembering Paul Boyd

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels).

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2012). Gary Larson in a Nutshell – Remembering Paul Boyd. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2012
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