Comic Strip / Sam's Strip

Sam's Strip was a Newspaper Comic strip created by Mort Walker (of Beetle Bailey fame) and Jerry Dumas. It originally ran from 1961 to 1963, but was later retooled and brought back in 1977 (more on that later).

During its original run, the strip concerned itself with businessman Sam and his nameless assistant, trying to make a living. At first, this might not sound all that remarkable...until you consider what business they were in: running a comic strip. No, they didn't write or draw one. They were cartoon characters who openly acknowledged that they were cartoon characters, and their "business" consisted of them owning and operating the strip they inhabited. In other words, it was one of the most blatant cases of No Fourth Wall in the history of newspaper comics.

Their running the strip consisted of things like keeping dust clouds and angry thought bubbles in storage closets, spats with their artist, spats with each other, meeting with other famous comic strip characters, and (above all else) unsuccessfully trying crazy schemes to increase readership.

Sadly, life imitated art. Although loved by cartoonists and comics aficionados, Sam's Strip was just too experimental to catch on with the general public; the series was cancelled after three years.

In some ways, this was where the strip ended; in some ways, it wasn't. In 1977, Dumas and Walker relaunched the strip as Sam and Silo. While it kept the two main characters, it abandoned the original concept. Sam and Silo were now a pair of bumbling police officers in a Mayberry-like town. While this wasn't as imaginative or unique, it was far more popular; as of 2010, Sam and Silo is still being produced and published.

Although the original incarnation is long gone, it's left enough of an impression on its readers to be remembered fondly and earn itself a page on this wiki (woo hoo!).

These two Strips contain examples of:

  • Art Evolution
  • The Cameo: Tons of famous comics characters would show up.
  • Continuity Reboot
  • Crossover: Sam and Silo both in Beetle Bailey as a pair of beggars. This was between the cancellation of Sam's Strip and the launch of Sam and Silo.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dumas originally appeared as a character in the strip, but kept appearing less and less over time and finally vanished entirely.
  • The Determinator: Sam's most endearing feature is arguably the fact that he never gives up trying to find new ways to improve business.
  • Discussed Trope: Let's just say that any tropes used in the original version would have at least a 50/50 chance of falling under this.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: Discussed. Annoyed that his guest-star, Happy Hooligan, is overreacting to everything, Sam suggests a more subtle response, such as raising an eyebrow. Happy complies by raising the eyebrow so high that it pops off his forehead and floats in mid-air. Sam is not amused.
  • Fat and Skinny: Sam and his Assistant, respectively.
  • Henpecked Husband: The Assistant.
  • Large Ham: Discussed. Sam criticizes Happy Hooligan for being one of these.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Usually averted. Whenever another comic strip character showed up, Dumas and Walker never tried to hide who it was.
  • Mauve Shirt: While most of the cameos were one-time appearances, Ignatz the Mouse and Happy Hooligan showed up so often that they both qualify as this.
  • Meta Fiction
  • Mundanization: After it was brought back as Sam and Silo.
  • No Fourth Wall
  • No Name Given: Sam's Assistant, but he was renamed Silo after the strip was retooled.
  • No Respect Guys: Sam and Silo in their role as small town cops. Granted, they didn't get any respect in Sam's Strip either.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The cameos. Dumas always drew them in their original style rather than in his and Walker's style. Replicating the styles of other artists was allegedly one of the most time-consuming tasks associated with the strip.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Uncle Sam made the occasional appearance. The fact that he shared the same name as the main character was never even brought up.
  • Rage Against the Author
  • Retool: When it became Sam and Silo.
  • Self-Deprecation: Dumas's supposed lack of drawing ability was poked fun at at least twice during the original version's run.
  • Stripperiffic: Pixie.
  • Symbol Swearing: Given the nature of Sam's Strip, this was often lampshaded, but there were occasions where it was used and no lampshading was involved.
  • Those Two Guys: The comic strip kops.
  • Toon Physics
  • Uncancelled
  • The Unseen: The Assistant's Wife is frequently discussed, but never shows up even once.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Arguably the original version's Fatal Flaw.