In 1987, the Sam & Max franchise had begun with the comic books by Steve Purcell. It covered the surreal and satirical adventures of two anthropomorphic animal private investigators: Sam, a six-foot tall "canine shamus" dressed like a stereotypical Film Noir private eye, and Max, a deranged, trigger-happy white rabbit (sometimes described as a "lagomorph" or a "hyperkinetic rabbity-thing"). Sam was always the more laid-back of the two, and usually the voice of reason keeping Max from unnecessary violence, though Sam's definition of "unnecessary violence" could be a bit flimsy at times. In most of their adventures, the two would receive orders from the faceless Commissioner to defuse some bizarre situation, doing so with a combination of violence, gunplay, and their wits.
Provides examples of:
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Done in one of the comics, where Sam and Max travel to the Moon and find a civilization of man-sized rats, who are being preyed upon by a civilization of 50 foot cockroaches. Said cockroache lives in a giant human apartment that makes them look normal-sized in comparison.
- Couch Gag: Each of the longer comics carries a title gag in the form of "Based on the [Media Type], [Silly Title]", such as Based on the famed Beat-generation novel, "Sam and Max Drive Around in a Car" by Bucky Kerouac. This tradition carried over to seasons 2 and 3 of the videogame.
- Drink Order: When the duo hit up a bar before travelling to ancient Egypt, Sam orders a root beer and an Orange Julius; Max demands dish water in a dirty glass.
- Funny Octopus: Sam & Max get rescued from pirates in "Hit the Road" by "Ratso" and his "howling band of cephalopods." Sam comments on how their floppy heads look gross on land.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: In On the Road, Sam grabs Max by the ankles and swings him at a biker, knocking him off his motorcycle. Max finds the experience refreshing.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Max, in the previous panel having been unarmed, is suddenly waving around a rather large firearm. Sam asks, "Where did you have that thing hidden, li'l buddy?" Max's response exemplifies this trope: "None of your damn business."
- It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: In one comic, the duo searches for a group of ransacking pirates in New Orleans. During which, Sam points out that all citizens of New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras year round.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Max's death in "Bad Day on the Moon."
- Looks Like Orlok: A short Halloween comic featured what might be Orlok himself as the villain. Sam kicks him in the face.
- Painting the Medium: In one panel, Sam delivers an Info Dump so lengthy that the speech bubble partly overlaps Max's face for want of room. Max complains that he's having trouble seeing because the speech bubble is in the way.
- Retired Badass: Sam's Granny Ruth. She ran a Jail much like Alcatraz during the Cold War.
- Television Geography: Parodied and lampshaded, with locations (and time periods) looking only vaguely correct and with Max sarcastically pointing out the level of research taken in the drawings.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Completely Subverted in the single-page comic "Terror of the Tanbark". Despite said story labeling them as more soft and marketable versions of themselves, it turns out that Sam and Max were just as nuts (if not more so) as kids. (They're still marketable, just not exactly soft.)
- In this case "soft" is most definitely a physical descriptor.
- You Dirty Rat!: Averted with the adorable Funny Background Event rats, as well as the humanoid rats the duo are trying to rescue in "Bad Day on the Moon." A case of Author Appeal, since creator Steve Purcell is rather fond of rats.