The series of cartoons in which the antagonist Strong Bad answers email from viewers is one of the most prominent features of the site. Strong Bad works closely with his sidekick The Cheat and his muscle-bound older brother Strong Mad to prey on Strong Bad's rotund and constantly depressed younger brother Strong Sad. Several other characters fill out the world: Homestar's hippie girlfriend Marzipan, his best friend Pom Pom, their coach Coach Z, local businessman Bubs, The King of Town, The Poopsmith, and a surreal character Homsar who talks in nonsensical phrases, such as "I was raised by a cup of coffee!" or "I'm a trendy tote bag!" By focusing on Internet distribution, the animated series has been able to reach a larger audience than they would otherwise have had access to. The site has built a loyal following and is updated constantly with new short movies, games, and music.
There are plentiful opportunities for interaction with the cartoons, with many featuring hidden Easter eggs: if a certain area on the screen is clicked at the right time, additional animation appears. These eggs typically include short cartoons, video clips, pictures, songs, or (occasionally) alternate versions of the site's main page. The site has found its way into pop culture multiple times. The character "Trogdor the Burninator" was mentioned in the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the game "Peasants Quest" has found popularity far beyond fans of the site. Perhaps the most common reference to the site is using the suffix "'D" to make a past participle (such as "ARROW'D"). Homestar Runner was brought to life in Atlanta in 1996 by two college students, Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel, who were working that summer in jobs related to the 1996 Summer Olympics.
On a day off, they visited a bookstore where they found that the state of children's books was dismal. Intending to rectify this, they wrote the original story The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest. This story featured Homestar Runner, Pom Pom, Strong Bad, The Cheat, and quite a few characters that soon disappeared from the Homestar Runner world. This hand-drawn book was the only incarnation of the characters for several years. By 1999, Mike and Matt Chapman (who typically call themselves "The Brothers Chaps") were learning Flash and looking for something to practice on. Digging out the old children's book provided a solution.
By January 2000, homestarrunner.com was live. Matt Chapman provided the voices of the male characters, while Missy Palmer (then Mike's girlfriend, now his wife) provided Marzipan's voice. The site grew slowly at first, but by mid-2001 it began to take off with the first Strong Bad email. The number of visitors to the site grew, and by March 2003 the site had outgrown its original web host. Currently, merchandise sales pay for all of the costs of running the website as well as living costs of the creators, whose retired parents manage many of the business aspects. "The Brothers Chaps" have a creative freedom that they would not have doing a regular TV show, because they run their own website and refuse to put their characters onto the small screen.
Originally, they developed Homestar Runner as a labor of love, and for their own amusement. Though the site sells Homestar merchandise, it has no commercials—in fact, a few of the cartoons parody advertising, with products like "Fluffy Puff Marshmallows", and advertisements for The Cheat's own cartoon (Cheat Commandos, a parody of G.I. Joe), where viewers are encouraged to "buy all our playsets and toys!" Though the internet was initially the only mechanism for viewing Homestar Runner, the first 100 Strong Bad e-mails were released on DVD on November 8, 2004. The strongbad_email.exe box set retained the various hidden features of the Macromedia Flash originals.
Also included were three unreleased emails, two music videos, commentary tracks by the characters and their creators, and other features. A fourth collection of e-mails on DVD was released separately on July 25, 2005, and a toons DVD called "Everything Else, Volume 1" was released on November 14, 2005. Volume 2 of this collection is expected to be released in early 2006. Also, on January 30, 2006, Podstar Runner was launched, allowing people to download select Strong Bad Emails and Teen Girl Squad episodes to a video-enabled iPod.
Once made available through iTunes' podcast directory, they very quickly took the #1 slot on Apple's "Most Popular" podcast list. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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