1992: Sam & Max Freelance Police

Sam & Max Freelance Police (1992),
Sam & Max Freelance Police Special Color Collection (1992)
by Sam Purcell

This is a pretty oddball thing for Epic to be publishing. First of all, Sam & Max was a long-running humour indie comic back in the 80s, and that’s not really Epic’s forte. And second of all: One 32-page (newsprint) book, and one 48-page “prestige” format book? That’s just… odd…

Anyway, I remember reading a story or two with Sam & Max as a teenager, but I never took to it. The artwork is very appealing, just perfect for this kind of zany stuff, and there’s jokes keep on coming; both visual gags (like that that gun being awfully huge, even when not in forced perspective) and verbal gags.

But it’s all so hyper-violent; way more than these things are. Those drowning guys making pitiful noises aren’t really gut-busters, are they now? I didn’t appreciate this sort of stuff as a teenager, and it just seems tired to me now.

It’s a mightily inventive story, though. I won’t even try to explain anything about it, because it’s something to behold. My copy lacks…

… six pages? I think? From the middle? Tsk, tsk, ebay seller.

Like the 32-page pamphlet, the 48-page “Special Color Collection” is… also in colour. Is this a reprint of old black-and-white strips? comics.org seems to say that it’s not, which makes this publishing strategy even more mysterious. You’d think anybody who reads “Special Color Collection” on the cover would assume that it’s a reprint.

It’s a bunch of shorter stories, and they are even more zany than in the 32-page book. I mean:

That’s some grade-A insanity.

These comics were reprinted in a collected edition about a decade ago, and the characters showed up in video games and animated series.

The comics are generally well-regarded:

The other possibility is that your jaw will drop in amazement that someone out there speaks your secret language – the language of a style of humor that you didn’t realize anyone else knew, apart from you and perhaps a few close friends. You’ll feel as if you’ve been reading Sam & Max all your life, saying the same quirky lines back and forth with your friends. And you’ll be laughing like crazy.

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