Sam & Max is a media franchise focusing on the eponymous fictional characters of Sam and Max, the Freelance Police. The characters, who occupy a universe that parodies American popular culture, were created by Steve Purcell in his youth, and later debuted in a 1987 comic book series. The characters have since been the subject of a graphic adventure video game developed by LucasArts, a television series produced for Fox, and a series of episodic adventure games developed by Telltale Games. In addition, a variety of machinima and a webcomic have been produced for the series.
The characters are a pair of anthropomorphic, vigilante private investigator based in a dilapidated office block in New York City. Sam is a calculative six-foot dog wearing a suit and a fedora, while Max is a short and aggressive "hyperkinetic rabbit thing". Both enjoy solving problems and cases as maniacally as possible, often with complete disregard for the law. Driving a seemingly indestructible black-and-white 1960 DeSoto Adventurer, the pair travel to many contemporary and historical locations to fight crime, including the Moon, Ancient Egypt, the White House and the Philippines, as well as several fictional locations.
The series has been very successful despite its relatively limited amount of media, and has gathered a significant fan following. However, the franchise did not gain more widespread recognition until after the 1993 release of LucasArts' Sam & Max Hit the Road, which cultivated interest in Purcell's original comics. Sam & Max Hit the Road is regarded as an exceptional adventure game and an iconic classic of computer gaming in the 1990s. Subsequent video games and the television series have also fared well with both critics and fans; critics consider the episodic video games to be the first successful application of the episodic distribution model.
The idea of Sam & Max originated with Steve Purcell's younger brother, Dave, who invented the concept of a comic about a detective team consisting of a dog and a rabbit in his youth. Dave would often leave the comics around the house, so Steve, in a case of sibling rivalry, often finished the incomplete stories in parodies of their original form, deliberately making the characters mix up each other's names, over-explain things, shoot at each other and mock the way in which they had been drawn, as "kind of a parody of the way a kid talks when he's writing comics". Over time, this developed from Steve merely mocking his brother's work to him creating his own full stories with the characters. Ultimately, in the late 1970s, Dave Purcell gave Steve the rights to the characters, signing them over in a contract on Steve's birthday and allowing him to develop the characters in his own way. In 1980, Purcell began to produce Sam & Max comic strips for the weekly newsletter of the California College of Arts and Crafts. Whilst the visual appearance of the characters had not yet been fully developed, the stories were similar in style to those that would follow when Purcell was offered the chance to publish his work properly in 1987.
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Official Site: Steve Purcell
Links: Wikipedia Entry Unofficial Sam & Max Website Telltale Games' Sam & Max Page