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 nearly as imaginative or unique, it proved far more popular; as of 2017, 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:
- Alliterative Title
- Art Evolution: The art got a lot more polished as the strip went on.
- The Cameo: Tons of famous comics characters would show up.
- Continuity Reboot: Sam and Silo. It takes the two main characters of Sam's Strip and puts them in a new, more mundane setting.
- Crossover: Sam and Silo both appeared in Beetle Bailey as a pair of beggars. This was in between the cancellation of Sam's Strip and the launch of Sam and Silo.
- Demoted to Extra: An Author Avatar of cartoonist Jerry Dumas originally appeared as a regular in the strip, but showed up 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.
- Downer Ending: The last strip famously ended with Sam about to commit suicide. Luckily, he appeared alive and well in a cameo in Beetle Baily, and then later in the retool Sam and Silo.
- Dreadful Musician: Pixy, whose singing could drive Sam to tears with its awfulness.
- Fat and Skinny: Sam and his Assistant, respectively.
- Henpecked Husband: The Assistant.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Pixy the Pixie, who was very shapely and only ever wore a bikini, but had a very childlike and mischievous personality. She was very small, though, and didn't get a lot of close-ups, so the effect was somewhat downplayed.
- 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, Happy Hooligan and Humpty Dumpty showed up so often that they all 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.
- Our Fairies Are Different: Pixy the Pixie was the classic "tiny winged girl with a magic wand" variant.
- Print Long-Runners: Averted with the original strip, but the Sam and Silo version has run continuously for over four decades.
- Rage Against the Author
- Retool: When it became Sam and Silo.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Sam frequently flaunts his status as the star of the strip, though it's repeatedly shown that he isn't anywhere near as popular or successful as he thinks.
- Self-Deprecation: Dumas's supposed lack of drawing ability was poked fun at at least twice during the original version's run.
- Straight Man: The Assistant insists that he is one, but he's got several Cloudcuckoolander traits. In the retool, when he got the name "Silo," he became much more of a Cloudcuckoolander.
- Stripperiffic: Pixy's regular outfit was a bikini.
- 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.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Happy Hooligan, who kept hanging around the strip and trying to beg money of Sam, even if Sam repeatedly tried to get rid of him.
- Those Two Guys: The comic strip kops.
- Toon Physics
- 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.