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Stuff You Should Know: Cow Tools

“Cow tools” is a one-page comic written by Gary Larson for The Far Side as an “exercise in silliness.” Immediately after the printing in 1982, Gary Larson received a torrent of letters and phone calls, the comic just didn’t make sense to a lot of people. It was so confusing, a press release was written specifically to address the Cow Tools comic. Gary Larson said that “the ‘Cow tools’ episode is one that will probably haunt me for the rest of my life”.

So, how bad could one of the most infamous comics be?

Chances are you have no idea what you just saw! I had no idea either when I first saw Cow tools. Here’s the thing though: there is nothing to see. According to Gary Larson, the joke was that if cows were to create tools they would be unsophisticated, and only a couple steps down from stone-age tools.

However, not only does the comic have a shaky premise, there is clearly some type of hand saw amongst the other unrecognized tools. This prompted the line of thought that readers were simply missing the joke and that something is hidden within the other tools. Yet that could not be further from the truth.

Unfortunately, the comic was a miss; however, the attention Cow tools received was a huge boost of popularity to The far side, and many people have begun to look onto the comic in a positive light as a failed, yet charming experiment into humor.

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