TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
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.