The main, or at least central, character of the strip, Marten is an aficionado of indie music who starts off the story by running into a girl named Faye. A few strips later, her apartment building has somehow burned down and she moves in with him.He had a relationship with Dora, which broke up. He is now in a relationship with Claire.
At one point he apologizes to Tai for using feminine pronouns with her on the off-chance she might identify as male, even though she's biologically female and never once made any indication she identified as anything but female.
Apologising during the Space Arc for not being Lieutenant Potter's type, and again in the same strip again for having the nerve to think Potter, who had pulled him out of a party to spend some time alone together might have been interested in him which lead him to try making a move on her.
Embarrassing Middle Name: Possibly averted; his mother wanted to call him 'Marten Tiberius Reed'. We don't know his real middle name, but apparently Marten's father chose it, and his mother does not approve.
Extreme Doormat: It can be surprising how much he lets people get away with.
The Generic Guy: He has no real outstanding features other than his lack of a spine.
Well, that and is tendency to be a Cosmic Chew Toy (at least as far as his relationships go After he broke up with Dora.)
In Love with Love: He really does want to find a girl and settle down with her. He's not the type for one night stands or casual affairs.
Nice Guy: Played relatively straight. He's kind, noble to a fault, and people tend to walk all over him. Some of the flaws of this character type are discussed (overall weakness and mediocrity), but he's still the kindest person in the strip by far. Briefly averted here.
Non-Action Guy: Except for the time he whacked the monk with the souffle pan, he's shown pretty much zero physical skills.
Brainy Brunette: One of the most articulate characters in the series, and known for her frequent witty remarks. Appropriately, she has brown hair and wears black glasses.
Broken Bird: She has deeep problems. Her Disappeared Dad is just the start; she may or may not have tried to kill herself (she was in a car accident, and the memory loss from the concussion means she's not sure if it was intentional or not).
Stepford Snarker / Sad Clown: She seems to have started using her biting sarcasm as a defense or coping mechanism, until it became purely reflexive.
Disappeared Dad: He killed himself right in front of her. No one knows why.
The Nicknamer: "Mar-Mar," "Hanners," "Penny..." the list goes on.
Tsundere: She actually wears a shirt saying "Tsundere" from time to time. Purchased by Hannelore here.
Weight Woe: Her body image issues are frequently brought up, and made somewhat worse by her hanging out with the eternally skinny Dora. She starts feeling better about it when she joins a gym.
Yaoi Fangirl: She provided the booze when Marten mentioned that Steve gets homoerotic when drunk.
The owner of the local coffee shop (Coffee of Doom) at which Faye eventually finds employment. Ramps up the Unresolved Sexual Tension by having a thing for Marten. They eventually resolved it and got together until Dora's insecurity and possessiveness ended it. She had a date with Jim, but eventually ended up with Tai as her next partner.
Provides examples of:
Benevolent Boss: Every single one of her employees is a close personal friend of hers. Although she gives a speech about how sometimes she has to be a Bad Boss, it's pretty clear that she gives everyone more freedom than she probably should.
Bi the Way: Makes no attempt to hide the fact that she lusts over all her female employees, despite formerly having a boyfriend. And she eventually gets together with Tai.
The Unfair Sex: Her many double standards is the most visible factor that eventually ended her relationship with Marten, often calling him out on minor things while not thinking twice about doing similar or worse things back.
Yaoi Fangirl: When Marten let slip that Steve gets homoerotic when drunk, she immediately ordered them to replicate the event in question.
A young lady Marten meets in a bar, who turns out to be his upstairs neighbor. Germophobic, adorably neurotic and born to a Mad Scientist father and a Corrupt Corporate Executive mother, she naturally became a fan favorite. She is slowly getting over some of her issues with the help of her friends. She is romantically lonely but not far enough past her germophobia and other issues to seek out a partner — yet.
Characterization Marches On: When we first met her, Hannelore was confident, extroverted, and sarcastic, but this soon evolved into a much more vulnerable character. The Watsonian perspective is that she was on much stronger anti-anxiety medication when she first showed up, but it's more likely that Jeph just didn't plan ahead at the time.
Good with Numbers: Utilizes her OCD to good effect. For the longest time, her only career is a freelance counter. Her mother also hires her to find an accounting error in a massive pile of paperwork, which she does.
Hannelore: There are a lot of cute animal pictures on the internet, but I think I've finally found them all. Penelope: ALL of them?! Hannelore: Well, aside from tapirs. I can't decide if they're cute or terrifying.
No Social Skills: Hannelore doesn't have the greatest grasp of normal social behaviour. Her upbringing is probably more to blame than her OCD; she was primarily raised on a space station by a mad scientist, after all.
Later updates indicate that she was literally raised by the space station's sapient AI, as her father was too busy with his work. And even then, the Ship states that Hannelore spent most of her childhood huddled in a corner, terrified of everything.
Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Hannelore is known to have a libido, but her OCD and germophobia make actually having sex with someone nigh-impossible. It's possible this contributes to her eventual interest in yaoi manga.
Raven: Oh, I love your boots! Penelope: Uh, thanks. I bought them online. Raven: Wow, you can buy shoes ONLINE?! I didn't know that! Penelope: Faye, is she being sarcastic? Faye: Your guess is as good as mine. Raven is the Drunken Master of ridicule.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She eventually went back to school to pursue a degree in physics... and wore a lab coat during a theory class because it seemed more sciencey that way. Not all the ditziness is obfuscating, apparently.
Perky Goth: Sort of. When she was still a goth she wasn't perky at all, but she was a Perky Emo for a while.
Put on a Bus: She disappeared for over a year real-time after going back to school.
An "Anthro-PC"—basically a computer in a robot body and with enough AI to be sentient — Pintsize started off as the zany comic relief before evidently getting an overdose of4chan. Now he's stillPlucky Comic Relief, but in a more sinister way.
Provides examples of:
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Not evil, but definitely not what anyone was expecting when they wanted to create a sapient AI.
Anything That Moves: Zig-Zagged. He'll hit on anything that seems female, whether it be human, robot, animal, or a non-intelligent robotic limb. But in an early storyline, he gets weirded out after realizing he was hitting on a boy robot, though he seems to get over it pretty quickly.
"Think about it! Rule34 is the ultimate expression of human creativity! Creating porn of ANYTHING THE HUMAN MIND CAN CONCEIVE is an endeavor on par with colonizing the stars or tapping into the secrets of the universe!"
Robot Buddy: It's quite literally his job. He was Marten's only friend for two years, but after Steven and Faye came along, he was pretty much left alone to do his own thing.
Second Law My Ass: Ordering him to do something—or more likely, not do something—has precisely zero effect. His habit of trolling everyone and his sometimes self-destructive hijinks show an absence of the other two Laws.
Wacky Guy: Well, robot. Though he goes through a phase where he worries that this is literally his only purpose, he gets over it.
"I write the songs that make the whole world cringe."
Ladykiller in Love: Interestingly, doesn't look like he'll get the girl who changed him, unlike the normal use of this trope.
Man Child: "Man Teenager" would be more accurate, since that's the form Sven's immaturity took (he's never acted like a literal child), but up until he got involved with Faye he didn't really have any need to grow up.
Morality Pet: In a weird way, Lydia, his intern. He probably never would have changed his ways if it weren't for her, even though she didn't seem to really be trying to change him.
Multiethnic Name: Mother was of Swedish descent, father Italian. Mother insisted on a name from the old country. hence, Sven Bianchi.
Out of Focus: After Faye "breaks up" with him, he's seen moping a few times but ultimately gets very little screentime
Really Gets Around: Though we've only explicitly seen a few of his relationships, it's no secret he's getting some every night. Until Faye dumps him, and just stops caring.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Doesn't understand why professing his feelings to Faye didn't work. He thinks it should be like a romantic comedy, where the professes his feelings and she loses the jerk she's with. Steve points out that Angus is also a good guy, and their life isn't a romantic comedy.
Marigold Louise Farmer
An anime fan who lives near Dora's coffee shop. Her room had serious cleanliness problems. Sometimes known as "Mar-bear", which totally isn't confusing when you consider that there's a Marten in the strip already. She suffers from poor hygiene, poor self-esteem, and social anxiety.
Provides examples of:
Adorkable: Socially awkward anime/video game fan who slowly gets pulled out of her shell by her equally adorkable best friend and moe robot.
Art Evolution: She went from a flat-chested skinnier girl to the bustiest and curviest girl in the strip, rivaled only by Faye.
Author Appeal: Her anime fandom reflects Jeph Jacques's own (though he's probably not a Yaoi Fanboy), and some traits of her character are drawn from an anime character. He also lists her as his favorite character in the cast page.
Punny Name: A play on the term "gold farmer"- someone who plays online games all day to accumulate gold, usually to sell it. Oddly enough, Jeph apparently didn't realize it until after he'd already named her.
Serious Business: On learning that Dale is a member of the Alliance in World of Warcraft.
A bookstore employee shanghaied into barista duty. Squabbles with Faye a lot. May or may not be...Pizza Girl, the pizza-delivering superhero. Most of the others suspect Penelope is her secret identity. If Penelope in strip 1932 is to be believed, it isn't.
Provides examples of:
I Am Not Spock: She's insists she's not Pizza Girl, and gets very annoyed when her friends imply that she is.
Got Volunteered: The others thought it would be funny to shanghai her into working at the coffee shop. She got fired from her bookstore job that night, so she came back full time.
Straw Atheist: Her parents were hardcore fundies, causing her to be firmly against anything without a rational scientific basis. This causes some friction with Wil.
Doom Magnet: It's mentioned in passing that all of her previous places of employment went up in flames after she got hired.
Another pizza delivery guy (among other things). A member of the Alliance, which makes him the natural enemy of Horde member Marigold. He begins a semi-Friendly Rivalry with her online after she stiffs him on a tip over this. Became a barista for the Coffee of Doom in 2530
Can Not Spit It Out: He has a romantic interest in Marigold, but his social skills are apparently as terrible as hers are.
Chivalrous Pervert: Dale is VERY creeped out when he thinks Hannelore is offering to bone him as a tip and is relieved to find out that it's not true. He still goes in, however, albeit reluctantly, and his personalized companion is made to wear a sexy French Maid costume because his browser history indicates that would suit him. He denies the pervert part, though.
Covert Pervert: He is beta testing a virtual companion whose avatar is designed to appeal to him... and takes the form of an anime-style French Maid.
Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Hanners is disgusted to find out about this trope, after he explains that her invitation to come inside so that she can find another way to tip him could have been interpreted very differently from simply giving him a slice of the pizza he delivered.
Out of Focus: She appears in a couple comics, but disappears soon after.
Owner of The Secret Bakery. Is divorced, with a daughter named Samantha. He and Dora went on a date, but decided not to pursue a relationship. Went on a date with Marten's mother, and they have decided to pursue a relationship.
Marten's current boss at the Smif College library, perpetually stuck in an all-girl polyamorousLove Dodecahedron. Her Twitter account is "tai_fighter", named after her DJing stagename. Has a crush on Dora, and half-heartedly tried to get with her after she and Marten broke up. Currently dating Dora Bianchi.
Out of Focus: She's used the least out of the entire library staff, possibly because her status as the Only Sane Man makes her the least fun to write for.
Sassy Black Woman: She hasn't gotten too much screentime, but her few lines have been in this mold.
Ellen's roommate and Marten and Hanners' ex-bandmate.
Provides examples of:
The Pig Pen: She has this...thing about showering. That is, she doesn't.
Secretly Rich: Her parents are wealthy enough that they were happy to buy her one of the most expensive guitars on the market at a moment's notice. She tries to keep it quiet since it ruins her hipster image.
Natasha's ex-boyfriend, Marten and Hanners' bandmate. Is significantly older than most of the cast.
Gets homoerotic when drunk, usually with an unhappy Marten as the subject of his attentions.
Steve:[drunk, sobbing on Marten's shoulder] I LOVE YOU, MAN! Marten: DUDE, WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS. Jeph's Rant: Steve only had two drinks.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Steve can come off a bit as your stereotypical jock kinda guy, the exact kind of dude you think nothing of. But, as you can see below, he's a secret agent. (Or was. He has a desk job now, ostensibly in the same organization.)
Chick Magnet: Steve's physique has won him a lot of female attention over the course of the comic.
Heroic Build: For the last few years Steve has been drawn with a muscular and athletic physique.
Lovable Jock: He's described as 'a bit of a bro', has a muscular physique and acts in a slightly overbearing, macho way when drunk but he's also shown to be a non-judgmental and supportive friend.
Mr. Fanservice: A lot of female characters are clearly enamored with Steve's rockin' bod.
Nice Guy: Steve may be a bit of a jock, but he definitely one of the nicest characters in the comic.
Only Sane Man: In later comics, he seems to fall into this category, especially when dealing with Marten's and later Sven's relationship problems. This is a bit ironic, as his early appearances often concerned his wacky relationship difficulties and his reactions to them.
OH COME ON I JUST GOT DONE WITH MARTEN
Rated M for Manly: Partially subverted, Steve's actually a pretty emotional guy, especially when drunk. However, he did manage to bag himself a date by showing her a picture of him flexing in front of a stuffed grizzly bear.
Gentleman and a Scholar: He's a poet, apparently majored in literature or poetry. Quite the gentleman as well, although apparently he's got some really filthy poetry.
Wil: I was attempting to channel Joyce, but without the scatological fixation... Penelope: I don't think they'd let us have sex in Washington's nose on Mount Rushmore, but it's a very evocative mental image.
Mysterious Stranger: He decides to invoke this to woo Penelope, but thankfully Sven talks him out of it.
Old-School Chivalry: The guy gets clipped by a truck - resulting in a broken arm - and still shows up for a date with Penelope. Why?
Wil: A gentleman never stands a lady up.
The Unfunny: Never makes his own jokes, but his attempts to remain serious in all situations qualifies him for this trope.
No Sense of Personal Space: In addition to being very touchy-feely with Hannelore, once he realizes Momo is a robot he immediately checks how lifelike her skin is.
Self-Abuse: Claire claims he lost his hand by masturbating so much it withered into a claw and fell off.
Marigold: That doesn't make any sense. Wouldn't that make it stronger? Momo: At worst, it might lead to some kind of repetitive motion injury. I don't see how— Clinton:[indignant]It was a fireworks accident!
Mad Scientist: The father of cybernetics and strong A.I.. Also invented the robotic hamster.
The Real Heroes: In spite of being one of the foremost technological geniuses in history, he greatly admires plumbers. This may date back to the construction of Station, as any orbital habitat is at least 50% pipes and ducts.
Hannelore's Robot Buddy. The Apple version of an Anthro-PC, he's basically a sentient iPod with arms and legs. He was very naive at first, but was very quickly corrupted by Pintsize.
Abnormal Ammo: When first introduced (in chibi mode), she mentions that she can shoot live eels from her crotch.
Beware the Nice Ones: Her electrical self-defense has amperage within the lethal range. Also, upon gaining her new chassis, her first acts were attacking Pintsize and threatening Marigold. Even the author hypothesized she had suppressed violent impulses.
Hannelore's Roomba. Pintsize has somewhat of a rivalry with it. He and Winslow eventually strapped a rocket to it and sent it out the window, and it came back with a mate and three children. Who also have rockets. Yeah. Not even the scientists could figure it out.
The Corrupter: She constantly encourages Dale to act unprofessionally at all his jobs. He will have none of it.
Covert Pervert: She assumes Dale to be this, and is disgusted by the fact that a compatibility algorthim decided on the sexy French Maid outfit as the best fit for his tastes. Then she immediately gropes her own boobs.
May:[lifting her skirt] Actually, I wonder if they even bothered to RENDER panties under this—
Evil Counterpart: To Momo. Both are Animesque robots and friends with an extremely nerdy character whom they help deal with their insecurities, but while Momo is kind, polite, and contemplative of the relationship between humans and AI, May is a foul-mouthed jerk and former criminal.
Fail O'Suckyname: Resents Dale for deriving her name from "maid", and his alternative of "Dickmouth Stinkface".
French Maid: She claims the algorithm must have decided this would "appeal" to Dale; he denies it. His collection of Magical Love Gentlemen says something different.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She eventually relents and starts behaving herself (somewhat). She also calls out Dale on the way he'd acted around Marigold in the past and helps him patch things up with her. They part on good terms.
Benevolent Boss: He waits around to tell Marten personally that he (and the rest of the department) had been laid off until Marten got back from sick leave. On that note, letting Marten go on sick leave from nothing but a call from Miss Vance probably qualifies him.
Straight Gay: Other than mentioning his boyfriend, you'd never notice.
A trucker-looking barfly who writes romance novels.
Provides examples of:
The Alcoholic: He's always drunk, and only seen outside a bar once.
Another filler-strip character, pulled out of Jeph's sketchpad at short notice. For a long time she didn't have a real name, although it's now been revealed as Harriet. She addresses the audience directly with a mixture of sarcasm and performance anxiety. Despite only two appearances, she was an instant fan favourite and got her own story over the Christmas 2009 break.