The Far Side and Dennis the Menace caption swap created a surreal genius
The Far Side and Dennis the Menace received two unusual makeovers when their subtitles were swapped. The results were an unintended comedy of gold.
Twice a newspaper replaced the subtitles with The dark side and Dennis threatens herresulting in a whole new take on the comics that left some readers enjoying the dark twist that surprisingly added a lot to the series.
The dark side and Dennis threatens her couldn’t be more different. One is a biting satire of the human condition, while the other is a lighthearted look at the antics of childhood. by Gary Larson The dark side ran from 1979 to 1995 and is known for starring in surreal comedy based on uncomfortable social situations, an anthropomorphic view of the world, logical errors, impending strange disasters, and often twisted references to proverbs or the search for a meaning to life. On the other hand, Dennis threatens her is a newspaper comic created in 1951 by Hank Ketcham. The central character, Dennis Mitchell, is a mischievous but lovable child who often does mischief unintentionally. However, his parents are still understanding and forgive him for everything he does.
In the 1989 anthology Prehistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit, Larson details how these two very different comics collided in the weirdest and funniest ways. Twice in 1981 and 1983, the Dayton Daily News accidentally changed the captions to The dark side and Dennis threatens her, which ran next to each other on the newspaper’s Comics page. The results were…interesting, to say the least. The very first switch was lighter, with both panels featuring sandwiches. Other sideThe original caption read: “Oh, my brother!… Not yet hamsters!” while Dennis threatens herit was, “Luckily I learned to make peanut butter sandwiches or we would be starving by now.But because of the switch, it seems to imply that snakes eat peanut butter and Dennis eats hamsters. The second switch took a much darker turn with Dennis sitting at the dinner table captioned as saying, “I see your petrified little skull… tagged and sitting on a shelf somewhere,” and The dark side showed a prehistoric fortune teller predicting to another caveman, “If I get as big as dad, won’t my skin be too tight?Some even found the caption change amusing, while others were deeply disturbed. Regardless, the Dayton Daily News later issued an apology for the errors.
The dark side is no stranger to dark places inside and outside the panel. In the early days of the internet, a number of urban legends and hoaxes circulated that Larson had died in a car accident, and his final tape (showing a hearse crashing into a tree) was actually his suicide note . It is therefore not uncommon to see dark themes. Dennis threatens her doesn’t have such darkness, which really solidifies these moments like comedic gold. Gary Larson loved these mixes so much he included them in his anthology, loving the moment when wholesome, all-American Dennis teamed up with menacing skull imagery.
Comics The distant life and Dennis threatens her are behemoths in their own right. Their differences in subject matter and audience make supposedly accidental caption swaps the stuff of comedy gold. Larson himself said in his reflective anthology Prehistory of The Far Side: A 10th Anniversary Exhibit that it was hilarious and embarrassing to see how both comics were improved by the change. It’s rare for a misprint to get so much love from readers, but in this case, with The dark side and Dennis threatens herhe ended up creating the surreal genius.
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