Quoth the Homestar Runner wiki, The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest [written by Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel in 1996] is the original children's book that started the entire Homestar Runner body of work.
The Homestar Runner, Pom Pom, Strong Bad, and three others enter the "Strongest Man in the World Contest". "Whoever holds the most grapes, wins." Strong Bad tries to cheat with the help of a furry yellow animal, from that point aptly named "The Cheat".
Strong Bad later made a revised edition of the story, retitled Strumstar Hammer, in the email "kids' book". The book was also spoofed in the 100th email "flashback", which in turn inspired Main Page 20. There were also plans for a sequel (Homestar Runner Goes For The Gold!), sketches for which appeared in the "Museum Sketchbook", but the idea was eventually scrapped until 2017 (20 years later). In addition, a modernized and animated version was made ten years later, just named "Strongest Man in the World", with newer versions of the characters reenacting the plot, with a few changes.
This book and its animated adaptation provide examples of:
- Adaptational Alternate Ending:
- In Strumstar Hammer, the Homestar Runner notices Strong Bad was cool and decides to give $1.38 to The Cheat. The Cheat learns to fly and Strong Bad decides to take a nap underneath his grapes, while the Homestar Runner and Pom-Pom lift a commode.
- In the updated cartoon version, when Pom Pom wins the trophy, he very pointedly doesn't share it with Homestar, who tries (unsuccessfully) to wheedle his way into getting it for his birthday.
- Adaptational Karma: Instead of simply being pulled out from under Strong Bad's pile and then disappearing from the story like in the original book, the animated remake has The Cheat be used by Homestar as a hackey-sack, before being bicycle-kicked off the screen.
- all lowercase letters: The cover of the book featured this.
- Animated Adaptation: For the 10 year anniversary. The characters all behave as their web animation selves, complete with some Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
- Bait-and-Switch: Strong Bad gives a subversive insult to Homestar in the animated remake when he and The Cheat encounter them on the way to the contest.Strong Bad: Oh, look, The Cheat. if it isn't the big fat yellow blob and Pom Pom!
- Blah, Blah, Blah: Strumstar Hammer changes the rules of the contest to this.
- Blatant Lies: All over the place with Strumstar Hammer, particularly as the book goes on and it becomes increasingly obvious that Strong Bad lost the contest. By the end, Strong Bad has to scribble out entire sections to explain that the picture actually depicts "Strong Bad did a jig while holding all the grapes and the Cheat learned to fly", and that he decided of his own volition to take a nap beneath his pile of grapes.
- Badass Boast: Strong Bad gives a very to-the-point one to The Homestar Runner and Pom-Pom when they meet him before the contest:Strong Bad: I am the very strongest! You guys are not very strong!
- Big "NO!": Strong Bad yells one when The Homestar Runner uncovers The Cheat (who was helping Strong Bad carry his grapes), right before the pile falls on him. He does it a lot more melodramatically in the animated remake.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Strong Bad got the eponymous Cheat to yank the Robot's cord out. The Homestar Runner notices this and costs himself the win to catch the animal. Also present for Homestar in the animated remake. Homestar is shocked when he discovers he's been disqualified for putting his grapes down to expose Strong Bad's cheating. When Homestar insists on sharing the trophy, Pom Pom refuses to let him do so.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Señor, the Robot, and Mr. Bland wouldn't be regular characters in the main Homestar Runner cartoon. Strumstar Hammer lampshades this by introducing them as "the guys you don't see anymore", but the animated remake at least gives them voices and a nice custom intro each:Announcer: Let's meet our smokin' hot contestants! Hailing from the middle of the road, the Prince Of Plain, the Master Of Mundane, it's Mr. Bland! And next, our returning champion; the walking metal robot, The Robot! And from foreign lands, the Foreign Man, Señor Ha-Ha-Ha-Havin' A Little Trouble! Aaaaand... (extremely quickly and flatly) Strong Bad, Pom-Pom, Homestar.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Strong Bad in the animated remake. Although he has his cheating attempt foiled and gets his pile of grapes dropped on him just like in the original book, he quickly realizes the grapes are seedless and happily starts eating his way out from under them.Strong Bad: Ohh... these grapes are succulently crushing my windpipe. (perks up) Ooh, but they're seedless! (the grape pile slowly shrinks as he munches them)
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: When the contest comes down to three participants, Homestar puts his grapes down to expose Strong Bad cheating. The two are disqualified, and Pom Pom wins. The different endings play with this trope in two ways.
- The original book defies this by having Pom Pom share his trophy with Homestar.
- The animated update plays this straight. Homestar is shocked to discover he's been disqualified, and he argues when Pom Pom refuses the share the trophy.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: This book is almost nothing like the Homestar Runner cartoon we know and love.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Homestar Runner enters the "Strongest Man in the World" contest.
- Graceful Loser: The Homestar Runner was okay with losing because the cheater Strong Bad didn't, either. And Pom-Pom was nice enough to share the trophy. Subverted in the Animated Adaptation, however. Homestar insists on claiming the trophy, and Pom-Pom refuses to share it.
- Malaproper: In the updated cartoon, Homestar says he's entering the Strangest Man In The World Contest, and then later the Stringiest Man In The World Contest.
- Not His Sled: In the original book, Pom Pom shares his trophy with Homestar. In the remade toon, he refuses to do so.
- Remove The Rival: Strong Bad has The Cheat do this to The Robot (last year's winner) by pulling the plug that powers him out of a nearby wall socket, causing him to shut down. Since everyone else is too distracted by the contest, The Homestar Runner ends up being the only one who sees it.
- Stealth Parody: Matt Chapman had this to say:Matt Chapman; Well, we were just looking around in a bookstore in the Children's book section, and we were kinda bored, we didn't see anything that we really liked, so we decided to make our own, you know, just as a joke to make fun of Kids' books. So we wrote The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest, and I think that that's still in the Museum right now.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes:
- In the original book, Homestar gives up his chance to win, just to stop Strong Bad and The Cheat from cheating. Then Pom Pom wins, and shares the trophy with Homestar.
- In the cartoon update, Homestar clearly expects this trope to be in effect, but it isn't. He's shocked that he gets disqualified for putting his grapes down, because he apparently thought exposing Strong Bad's deception would be an automatic win for himself. And then he demands Pom Pom share the trophy, but Pom won't have any of it.
- World's Strongest Man: The eponymous contest is a test to see who is this trope. It's Pom-Pom.