"It is your duty as an older brother to be an ass," Sam
& Max creator Steve Purcell told me.
And Steve managed to turn that duty into a paycheck. Sam & Max are now in the second season of
episodic game produced by Telltale Games, after a long and glorious
career in newspaper strips, comics, and LucasArts games.
And it all began with some good old-fashioned
little brother mockery. "Sam & Max
started out as the scrawled comic book drawings of me and my brother when we
were kids," Steve told me. "My brother
would draw detective comics. And he
actually cast his characters of Sam and Max as a dog and a rabbit. And I would find his unfinished comics lying
around and I would finish them out in my version of his style, so it's my
making fun of my little brother and teasing the way he would write his
dialogue." That is the origin of the
peculiar self-conscious style of Sam & Max, who "over-articulate everything
they are talking about."
In this season, "we're traveling around [more than in the
first], and amping up the bizarre scenarios."
But really, it doesn't matter where this dog and rabbit go, or what
story they're involved in, for Steve, "The plot existed to give the characters
things to say to each other."
And Steve apparently has a pretty good gig in the whole production
process. When asked about producing the
game, he said, "For me, it's easy, because I basically have one or two meetings
with the creative staff, David Grossman and Chuck Jordan. And we have discussions about broad ideas...
they sort of run with it. They so
effectively live in this world that I'm happy with what comes out the other
According to Steve, the secret to the success of the
Telltale crew is their work ethic.
"They don't clean up after themselves, but all the time they would have
spent cleaning up, goes onto the screen.
They live in a hovel. They're
like hamsters. They're very creative
hamsters. They're like if a hamster
could paint a Picasso painting."
Steve believes that his brother has recovered fully from his
early years. In fact, he actually gave
Sam & Max to Steve as a birthday present one year.