Hsu and Chan
Hsu and Chan is a comic strip created by Jeremy "Norm" Scott that appeared in the video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly from November 1999 until the September 2008 issue. The strip has appeared at 1UP.com until September 30, 2009 when the blog ended and Norm promised to continue the comic at spookingtons.com. Full-length comic books of Hsu and Chan have also been published by Slave Labor Graphics, as well as a trade paperback collecting the first five issues of the comic.
More recently, animated shorts of the characters were produced and are available at the Spookingtons website.
Hsu and Chan follows the misadventures of the brothers Hsu and Chan Tanaka, who own and operate a company called "Tanaka Bros. Game Development" that specializes in knock-offs of popular titles. For example Bad Milage 2000, a knock-off of Gran Turismo appears in the strip "Hsu and Chan in: Chan Turismo!"
Tanaka Bros. Game Development has other, less seen employees, including Arnie, a ground squirrel bearing a striking resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog, Gila Mobster, the brutish Charmander parody who can be seen wearing a black Fedora with a lighter grasped in the end of his tail, and Chernobyl, the radioactive chipmunk who is a take on Pikachu.
The name Dirk appears frequently as a replacement for a random name (Ledger of Zelda) or for anagrams and codenames (Pocket Morons: Platinum, Sonic Boobs). Many comics also make references to Cheez-its, usually with characters noticing crumbs (This was also done in The Otters: The Survivors). Many references are made to the Tomb Raider series, usually referring to the newer games as crimes against humanity.
Tanaka Bros. employees
- Hsu and Chan Tanaka: The main characters in the series. Though they're apparently talented when it comes to coding and creating video games (proven in a strip where it's mentioned that their games usually get good reviews), they spend more time creating ripoffs of established franchises or other schemes to make a quick buck. According to The Hsu and Chan Story from Norm's old (now-defunct) site, which was written as if by the character Chan Tanaka, Chan is 6'2" and was born in October 1973 and Hsu was born in September 1974.
- Chernobyl: A radioactive chipmunk who was created in a get rich quick scheme based around the extreme popularity of the Pokémon series in the late 90s. He is based on Pikachu and attacks with concentrated radiation. He can evolve into a fat, tiny, naked, flying IRS agent named Mr. Stephenson.
- Arnie the Ground Squirrel: A blue ground squirrel who originally portrayed Sonic the Hedgehog at children's parties and gaming conventions before working for the Tanakas. He has multiple habits including a gambling addiction and kleptomania.
- Gila Mobster: A brutish lizard (most likely a gila monster) who was based on the Pokémon, Charmander. Gila Mobster works for the Tanaka brothers as a bodyguard and an enforcer.
- Hannibal Lawyer: A cross between Miles Edgeworth and Hannibal Lecter. He serves as the Tanakas' legal consultant whom they usually summon to explain copyright and intellectual property laws. Due to his insanity, the brothers store him in a refrigerator when he's not being used.
- The Tanaka Family: Seen in A Very Hsu and Chan Christmas. Hsu and Chan's known family includes their loving mother, their father, who follows a traditional Japanese lifestyle, and their grandfather who mostly speaks Japanese. They also have a sister, Hiroko, and her dimwitted, muscle-bound husband, Deke, who annoys the brothers with his idiotic stories and occasional physical harassment. Hiroko also has a daughter, Hanabi, who the brothers used to see if their new toy idea (an unholy fusion of past successes) would be successful with children in Oh Holy Nuts. Hiroko and Deke are also briefly mentioned in Godfodder.
- The Yamamotos: The arch-rivals of the Tanaka Brothers and the owners of a competing video game company. They are responsible for cutting off Hsu's right hand, which would be replaced with a prosthetic claw in later comics.
- X: An anthropomorphic, green letter X who served as a placeholder mascot for the Xbox and a legal representative of Microsoft in Squares. He reappeared in a later episode to support the Xbox 360 in Parade of Disappointment implying that he killed the Nintendo representative in his fight to the death in Squares.
- Arnie's Family: Arnie's parents and younger siblings, Buckles and Trudy, who appeared in the episode, Sonic Weirdos. His father is portrayed as extremely patriotic and perpetually disappointed in his son.
Slave Labor comics
After three years with EGM, Scott contacted Slave Labor Graphics about making a standalone, full-length Hsu and Chan comic book. Slave Labor agreed, with eight issues of the comic published between 2003 and 2009. A collection of the first five of these along with extra bonus material was released in 2004 and titled Hsu and Chan: Too Much Adventure.
Since the EGM strips are typically one page long, they are self-contained stories that parody a specific video game, usually the title on that month's cover of EGM. The Slave Labor comics, on the other hand, are considerably longer and more reliant on plot. The Slave Labor comics are also less video game-centric and feature Hsu and Chan battling supernatural foes and their arch-rivals at the competing video game company, Yamamoto Games, Inc.
Norm's naturally wordy dialogue is slightly toned down for the EGM strip, a necessary compromise given the single page nature of the strip. In the Slave Labor comic, the characters are more verbose.
Despite the separate focuses of the two different strips, they exist within the same universe. In the Slave Labor comics Hsu's right hand is severed and replaced with a prosthetic appliance; the change was reflected in the EGM strip.
Video game parodies
The following games have been featured and parodied in the Hsu and Chan EGM strips:
- Driver - (Drivel)
- Final Fantasy - (Final Fantasize)
- Kingdom Hearts - (Hearts o' Darkness)
- Grand Theft Auto - (Hsu Crime Stories)
- James Bond 007 series - (Thunderblarg)
- Resident Evil - (Zombierama)
- The Lord of the Rings - (Lords of the Bling, Hoard of the Things)
- Gran Turismo - (Chan Turismo)
- Metal Gear - (Secret Agent Chan)
- Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney - (Jerk Simpkins, Ace Attorney [Under Fire])
- Super Mario Bros. - (Down the Drain)
- Pokémon - (Pocket Morons, Pocket Morons Platinum)
- Sonic the Hedgehog - (Sonic Boobs, Sonic Weirdos)
- Castlevania - (Symphony of the Nut)
- The Legend of Zelda - (The Ledger of Zelda)
- Halo - (Combat: Involved!)
- Soul Calibur - (The Soul Still Burns, Low Calibur)
- Halo 3 - (Halo How Are You?)
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl - (Prelude to a Brawl)
- SOCOM: Confrontation - (So Conned)
- Scott, Norm. (2004). Hsu and Chan: Too Much Adventure. SLG Publishing.