PopStrip Origins


PopCap’s email newsletter is a great way to keep up with our latest news, promotions, and of course, game releases!  But for me, the best part of the newsletter has always been the PopStrip.  It’s not in every edition, but when it pops up, it’s a special treat, a reminder of a game you love or a tease about a new one.  It’s self-referential, occasionally self-deprecating, and always in the PopCap tradition of fun first, last, and always.

I decided to wander around the office and ask a few PopCappers to name their favorite PopStrip off the top of their head.  You can tell what big fans we all are by how quickly the answers came to mind, and how few words it took to describe the strip.

Both artist extraordinaire Noah Maas and Project Manager Kate Bavuso exclaimed instantly, “Gondola!”

I sat down with the man behind them all, Stephen Notley, to ask a few questions about the history of the PopStrip.

“When I started work at PopCap, I was hired to do the newsletter… I was pitching all these ideas… well I could draw a comic for it, I could take all our characters and put them in this sort of world together, and I thought that would be a useful use of my talents.”

In this world, Lex is apparently an attorney. Or he just likes the flavor of the letters A-T-T-O-R-N-E-Y. PopCap Ping Pong Champion Eric Olson names this as his favorite PopStrip.

Do you decide what to write about or are you asked to write about certain subjects or characters?

“I prefer to write on a subject if there is one, ’cause that gives me a starting off point, so I’ll usually ask if there’s some promotion, or… it’s Halloween, or Christmas… Winter Holiday, I guess… or you know, Peggle came out on the iPhone or something like that. I would try to do a strip about that, or sometimes it would just be something random like, okay, I feel like doing a comic about Heavy Weapon guy and a Chuzzle. As much of the time it’s just, what might be funny this time, and see if I can come up with something sort of amusing.”

A Halloween strip, obviously, and one of my personal favorites!

Are there older or lesser-known characters you like to use just to make people wonder what game that’s from and maybe want to play it?

“Not as much as I used to. Back when I first started I would do a lot of comics with Vector from AstroPop, because he is one of the only PopCap characters who has hands… you know, for gesturing or typing on a computer or anything like that, it’s kind of tricky to have other characters do that.  I haven’t done one with Vector in quite some time… these days, we’ve got zombies, and zombies have hands.”

...making this a very "meta" comic indeed. But unlike many in-jokes, this one's also funny from the outside!

“I always like Chuzzles, ’cause Chuzzles are just goofy idiots, they’re always fun.”

This was named by Brian Fiete, one of our illustrious founders, as his favorite PopStrip.

“Some characters are more difficult to draw than others, so I tend to stay away from them; the Zuma frog is really difficult to draw, to get it looking right, so it doesn’t look like a duck or something.”

"The other problem with the frog is that he doesn’t say anything, or rather, he only says Ribbit, so you can get like one joke out of that, and I did. I think it was the second PopStrip I ever did, and it was like, okay, I’m done. I’m done with the Zuma frog."

“I try to mix it up so I’m not relying too heavily on one or the other, but Lex is fun and easy to draw, and I’ve got a connection to Lex, because I wrote a lot, well all of his dialogue for the Bookworm Adventures games, I’ve got a good sense of his voice.”

Jeff Green's favorite PopStrip: "Lachrymose!"

“…though I guess I wrote all the dialogue for all of our games, really, so I’ve got a sense of all their voices, but… What was the question? Are there old characters that I sort of go back to? Not as a rule… I probably should, you know, it’d be kind of like, hey, I haven’t done anything with the Heavy Weapon guy in a long time, or I haven’t had Vector… I don’t think I’ve ever done anything with the Pixelus dude.”

Speaking of lesser-known characters, Director of Customer Support Aoife names this as her favorite. Um, I mean, King Midas is a lesser-known character. Not Aoife.

What are some of your favorite PopStrips?

“Well, certainly probably the funniest one was the one with one of the fish from Feeding Frenzy and the other one from Insaniquarium.”

“There’s one that springs to mind where Lex is giving a Chuzzle one of the PopCap surveys…”

“There was one I did a little while ago, probably almost two years ago I guess… when did Zuma’s Revenge come out? That was kind of a nice one, because after the introduction of all those enemy idols, it was finally possible to do a Zuma-themed strip without having to have the frog in it.”

“My favorites are just ones with sort of absurd gags, like ‘nobody wants to hear about your plans for spray-on beef.’ I’ve got most of them hosted on my site at Bob the Angry Flower.” *

*We must caution that this website may contain material not suitable for the entire family.

Many PopStrips are also archived on our (entirely family-friendly) Facebook page!

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If you’ve enjoyed this walk down PopStrip memory lane, I recommend signing up for the email newsletter.  Each edition brings with it the possibility of another PopStrip!

 


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