Telltale Games - Summer of Sam & Max
The Latest: Sam & Max: Bright Side of the Moon Commentary Tracks

Sam & Max Season One is done, but we're not! Every week for the entire summer, the web guys and Sam & Max dev team will be joining forces to dish out morsel after morsel of top shelf Sam & Max content, from tell-all commentary tracks to a history retrospective to some awesome surprises you'll probably guess ahead of time on the forums. We'll be updating every Tuesday, so come back often! For now...


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Much of Sam & Max as we know it was born out of Steve's personal experiences. Steve had pet rats and invented a game called Fizzball with his friends, both of which became Sam & Max staples in later years.


Above, left: Ernie the pet rat, who inspired the rats in Steve's comics. Ernie has gone to the rainbow bridge, but his legacy lives on. Above, right: A rat from Bad Day on the Moon (the second one).
Above: Art Adams swings a bat in the inaugural game of Fizzball. Adams went on to illustrate zillions of comics. Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) was also involved in the invention of the game.

In 1980, the first Sam & Max comic strips appeared in print in the weekly newspaper of the California College of Arts and Crafts, where Steve went to school. The banter and storyline is pure Freelance Police, but visually, the characters hadn't quite evolved into the Sam & Max the style we're used to.

Above: The first published Sam & Max strip, drawn the night before deadline, 1980.

Let's jump ahead to 1987, the year the first Sam & Max comic book was published. What happened in the interim? "The book came about because Steve Moncuse, creator of the black and white comic Fish Police, was having a lot of success publishing that book," Steve says. "He wanted to include a second title and asked if I would want to do a comic length Sam & Max story. I had spent the time between art school and the first Sam & Max book doing freelance illustration, much of it for sword-and-sorcery game magazines and covers for primitive computer games. I had penciled a bunch of forgettable Marvel comics but had never written, penciled and inked my own comic book before that."

Above, left: An ad for the (then) upcoming first full fledged Sam & Max comic book, as seen in a 1987 issue of "Fish Police."
Above, right: The cover of Sam & Max #1. Find it today on eBay for too much money.
Note from Steve: "Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple comes from the name of a firework. It felt strangely appropriate if you can make the case that Sam & Max are the Monkeys invading the cult leader Fritz Nunkie's sacred sacrificial volcano god alter. And it sounds funny."


Steve took the plunge, and Sam & Max Freelance Police #1 was published in 1987, featuring their first full-length comic adventure, "Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple." The 32-page comic introduces the familiar Sam & Max universe that has continued to expand in the twenty years since, including appearances by Flint Paper, Mack Salmon, the DeSoto, and many of Steve's signature rats.

In the comic--which incidentally involves neither monkeys nor a heavenly temple--the Freelance Police chase down a purse snatcher, pop into an eclectic version of the Philippines complete with kangaroos, the Eiffel Tower, and a street vendor selling weasels on a stick, confront a mob of volcano-god worshipping cult members, almost get their guts ripped out but manage to save the day anyway, then head back home on an airplane that gets hijacked by a guy in a clown mask. All in a day's work for the dog and rabbity-thing, and a harbinger of even weirder stuff to come.

Next time: The Golden Era


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