In October 2000, American McGee’s Alice came out to a good bit of fanfare. In the dark video game, Alice Liddell has gone down the dark rabbit hole of madness after losing her family in a house fire. Using her vorpal blade and other weapons derived from Wonderland and the land behind the looking glass, she bloodily battles elements of her own psyche for control of her mind. The game was so successful that in 2003, McGee announced a sequel of sorts, to feature Dorothy Gale in her own twisted adventures in Oz.
Due to financial difficulties, the game was never made, but the announcement was enough to set off the guys at Penny Arcade, the webcomic dealing primarily with the video game industry. On April 14, 2003, they released a comic lampooning McGee’s destruction of childhood innocence. The single-panel comic presented itself as an ad for American McGee’s Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry Shortcake’s friend Plum Pudding, now looking quite grown up in a corset and thigh-high stockings, was shown on her hands and knees, while Strawberry Shortcake sat on top of her, similarly attired, brandishing a riding crop she’d obviously been using on her friend. Custard the kitten sat in the background, now a panther with bloody jowls.
The text of the fake ad told us Strawberry Shortcake was “a sweet girl with a taste for PAIN.” We also learned “Her kitten, Custard, fed by a thousand corpses, seeks out a meal of flesh!” and “Strawberry’s naughty playmate Plum Pudding is the main course at this tea party!” Finally, we were invited to “Taste her in 2005″. Two rather toothy and demonic-looking strawberries completed the picture.
The comic was amusing and on-point, but it probably would have been forgotten by now, except for one thing.