The art of science and the science of art.

Evolution Ha-Has (minus Gary Larson)


So I'm putting together this post on great evolution cartoons that focus on the water-to-land transition and I remember this Gary Larson cartoon from the Far Side that depicts three fish in the water staring longingly at their baseball lying on the shore, a few feet from the water's edge. The caption reads, "Great moments in evolution." Hilarious, no? So I fire off an email to his rep asking permission to use it and I find that Mr. Larson has completely restricted (good luck with that one) the use of his cartoons in any electronic format whatsoever. It's really quite a remarkable email - here's the gist of it:

Although Mr. Larson appreciates his many loyal fans and is flattered by this attention to his work, none of his work is available for use in any electronic format for any reason. Mr. Larson feels strongly about not having his cartoons available on web sites, or in any electronic format, until copyright protection legislation is established for the Internet. Making Far Side cartoons available in digital form for anyone to download makes it impossible for Mr. Larson to control how his creative efforts are used -- something that is very important to him.

Wow. That's extreme. What about presentations? No dice, unless you use an overhead projector (what is that, you ask? Good question.) Newsletters? Nope. Posters? Nah. Merchandise? Obviously, no. But my lucky Far Side t-shirt is threadbare - can I buy another through you? Negative, soldier. What about a stinkin' greeting card? Can I get a greeting card? No. No card for you. NO!

GAAAAAAAAH! Is it me or is this a special kind of paranoia? I understand the fear of losing income from piracy - as an illustrator whose work was taken by South Park without compensation, believe me, I get it - but I don't think going on Internet lockdown is the solution. More than anything, keeping your work off the Internet prevents you from being part of the conversation and limits your reach substantially (if you were following Glendon's and my coverage of Pinterest and its terms of service, I'm working on a follow-up along these lines.) But that is for another time. What I really wanted to do here was to highlight great fish humor. And there are other artists who are willing to be part of the conversation. So let's converse, shall we?

"What next?" by Ed Heck

What Next? by Ed Heck

© Ed Heck. Used with permission.

"No Missing Links" by Tom Toles

This cartoon came out shortly after the announcement of the discovery of Tiktaalik roseae and is a favorite in the Shubin lab...

"No Missing Links" by Toles

TOLES © 2006 The Washington Post. Used by permission of Universal Uclick. All rights reserved.

These are two of my faves... as more permissions roll in, I'll post a few more gems. Enjoy!

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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