In an industry full of cheap tie-in games that leech off big brand names, Sam & Max -- a parody of hard-boiled detective stories that stars a homicidal rabbit and a floppy-eared dog -- has accomplished the opposite: The quality of the game has revived interest in the long-dead original comics.
Steve Purcell's characters, with their "convoluted, tortured dialogue," first were published in a comic strip in his college newspaper in 1980. Sam & Max quickly grew into a graphic novel, a successful LucasArts videogame -- 1993's Sam & Max Hit the Road is considered one of the all-time classics of the adventure genre -- and a short-lived animated TV series on Fox Kids.
Now, in a revival that bucks the trend of high-budget blockbuster titles like Halo 3, a new line of simple-but-addictive Sam & Max PC games delivered in a unique way is winning fans and sparking fresh interest in the comics that spawned the franchise. And the game's success is catching: The graphic novel is being reprinted and the TV show is headed for DVD.