Galasso: Bow before me, your master! The name's Galasso, boy. Learn it, for it is the name of your doom.
Ethan: Sir, this is just a toy store.
First appearance: January 17th, 2005
Egolomaniacal, hammy, and downright deranged, Galasso is the supposedly menacing but really just kinda weird owner of Shortpacked!, convinced that running the store will somehow lead to world domination. The number of things he understands beyond the narrow scope of his goals can be counted on one hand, with gender, sexuality and ethnicity being beyond what his mind can grasp. Deep down, he cares about the store, though his concern for any of the folks in it is debatable at best.Has a daughter named Conquest, somehow. He continually tries to get her to sire him an heir. More on her later.
Asexuality: Mainly due to a lack of knowledge of any other options. He can't even tell a male and female apart, and Leslie and Ethan have to give him The Talk (it doesn't go too well). No one's really sure where his daughter Conquest came from, in-universe or out.
Hidden Depths: Losing Pamela, Conquest's mother, affected him far more than he lets on and was the motivation behind researching the tech to bring people back from the dead (which ironically can't bring her back).
Small Name, Big Ego: Convinced his toy store is an empire, his employees are his minions, and that he will inevitably end up ruling the world.
Miko's the best part of that show! There's just something about her that speaks to me. The lack of boundaries for her over-the-top behavior is the catalyst for half of everything that happens on that show. Thank god she never learns anything and the rest of the cast is so forgiving.
First appearance: January 21st, 2005 (August 26, 2003 in It's Walky!)
The ultimate Man Child—loaded with energy, little/no regard for personal boundaries, impulsive with money, and pretty much completely lacking in emotional maturity. She means well, certainly, but her insistence on everything playing out like an over-the-top sitcom more often than not causes more trouble than it fixes. While not a nerd per se, having spent almost a decade with Ethan and Amber as her closest friends means she's picked up a fair amount.Former California representative in Congress through no fault of her own; superpowered war hero, current lover of Leslie Bean. Also the cause of the comic's Cerebus Syndrome via her pulling of the Drama Tag.
Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Subverted—Robin tries to make Ethan jealous by pretending she is a lesbian, but it only irritates him. Is later shown to have actual attraction to girls.
Berserk Button / Big Damn Heroes: She shows up to stop Head Alien from killing Leslie, and does she ever look pissed. Leslie wakes up in the next strip to find the fight's already over, Robin having cut him into sixteen pieces and thrown them into different dead universes.
Bi the Way: Robin's idea of herself has gradually evolved from "I ain't no lesbian" to "straight with an exception" to "I guess I'm generally kinda undefinably queer?" Word of God is that she's always been attracted to some women, but kept dismissing it as friendship.
Like me, Robin will face the truths she’s scared of by testing the water by treating those truths as a joke, and then really really like telling that joke louder and louder, before it gets harder to hide...
Caffeine Bullet Time: Robin is so hyper already that enough sugar causes her to black out for several months, and when she wakes up, she's a member of the House of Representatives. Funny thing is, she's continued serving for the rest of the decade, despite spending most of her time at Shortpacked!.
Converted Fangirl: Robin demonstrates increased pop-cultural awareness over the course of the series, due to spending neigh-on a decade working at a toy store and having nerds as her closest friends.
Let's Get Dangerous: Putting Leslie in actual danger causes Robin to switch from being comic relief to the most badass member of the cast.
Love Chart: After Head Alien warned her about impending Cerebus Syndrome and "love pentagons", she drew one on a wheeled chalkboard to keep track of the store's drama. It's popped up occasionally ever since.
Meta Guy: She refuses to engage in any political commentary during her time as a Representative, actively charts the comic's Love Dodecahedron, knows that Head Alien II "speaks in orange", and mentions tropes by name. But the real kicker is when she unwittingly becomes the comic's Knight of Cerebus, pulling the Drama Tag when she realizes her new surroundings are lighter, softer, and consequence-free:
I will present to you a graph by Faz that will demonstrate exactly in which area we will figuratively sex them. The direction will be up.
First appearance: November 30th, 2005
Faz is...creepy, on a number of levels. He is completely without morals or social consciousness, self-serving and outrageously smug against all odds. He was completely relentless in his pursuit of Amber (until he found out she's his half-sister) and sex in general, though he has basically no idea how it works. Faz also has a very distinctive speech style, blunt yet oddly formal, which makes any discussion of sex with him more awkward than it already should be. His inflated sense of self and absurd egotism is completely impenetrable, and will only concede to outside authority (read: Galasso) if he thinks he'll get something out of it.Has a thing for making graphs and latching on to popular trends (mostly ones he doesn't realize are bad—poorly-made personal websites, faking insider information on message boards, etc.)Is rarely, if ever, seen not smirking.
Perpetual Smiler / Smug Smiler: To the point where Willis often goes out of his way to draw Faz from behind or in silhouette when he's supposed to be in pain. It took seven years, but finding out that the dad he never knew died and that Amber's his half-sister finally broke the streak.
Punny Name: On Fazoli's, which for a long time ran ads featuring a child with an infuriating grin on his face.
Sibling Incest: Towards Amber until she told him their probable shared father after his death.
Yeah, okay, so my weakness is messed-up lesbian relationships...in fiction.
First appearance: November 27, 2006 (as regular), June 8, 2005 (similar character design retconned to be an Early-Bird Cameo)
Probably the closest thing Shortpacked! has to a sane person at the moment, Leslie is characterized by her neigh-infinite patience and love of sci-fi. She was disowned by her ultra conservative father for (you guessed it) being a lesbian, having come out four months into her marriage to a dude.As mentioned, is the current lover of Robin, and probably Amber's closest friend besides Ethan.
Abusive Parents: Leslie was also disowned by her parents when she came out of the closet.
Berserk Button: The only time Leslie is seen to be disdainful is when religion is brought up—she instantly lowers her brow and goes into Deadpan Snarker mode. (Though she did start screaming about the Star Trek reboot one time.)
Telling her you murdered an alternate reality version of Robin seems to be one too. How mad is she? She's actually trying to murder the guy who did it.
Extreme Doormat: Was this in the early days to Robin, but even when getting past that she tends to avoid conflict and is extremely slow to anger.
Landlord: Of sorts. Before Robin and Leslie were dating and Robin was in Congress, Robin bought Leslie a house to make up for, well, being straight. For a while, most of the cast lived there free of rent.
Satellite Character: Lampshaded by Head Alien II, who called her nothing more interesting than being "Robin's hanger-on." However, by the time he said this, Leslie had had several years of character development and considerable time apart from Robin so that it was no longer true.
What Does She See in Him?: Occurs during Leslie and Malaya's brief relationship, since Leslie is literally the only person in the main cast that could stand being around her. Unfortunately this backfires on Robin when she accuses Malaya of not being sincere in dating Leslie, since she comes off as overly controlling and selfish.
Don't you dare tell anyone I made that for you. Anyone. Or that I can sew. Don't want anyone to think they fuckin' know me. But you can.
First appearance: April 22nd, 2011
Malaya was pressured into applying to work at Shortpacked! by her roommates after six months of unemployment, which she resisted at first due to an overwhelming hatred of anything nerdy. One of these roommates was Ken, who had a crush on her and was hoping that she'd notice him more if they worked together. Unfortunately, she instead discovered Leslie.Whereas Mike pulls off the Heroic Comedic Sociopath side of Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, Malaya plays the more dramatic side of it. She tends to alienate and belittle everyone around her except Leslie and Ultra Car, the latter of whom shares her misanthropic world view. Naturally, as a character with a mostly negative emotional influence, she's a wee bit of a Base Breaker between those who appreciate the drama she brings or despise her as a person.Had a brief childhood history and almost hook-up with Jason from Multiplex. Currently the girlfriend of Ultra Car.
Alpha Bitch: Malaya has shades of having been one or having wanted to be one and is still largely locked in a high-school worldview of who is and isn't a worthwhile person.
Hidden Depths: When she was still interested in Leslie, she displayed surprising empathy with her over her parents disowning her.
Laser-Guided Karma: After so many barbs about other people's weight and a looks-based sense of superiority, guess whose metabolism caught up with her once she hit 23? (Guess who also got an Ignored Epiphany in the process.)
Tsundere: "Tsun" to almost everyone, "dere" towards Leslie and later Ultra Car.
Arnold: Don't worry, Ken. She'll come around. Ken: Really? Arnold: No, you're an idiot. Stop barking up the bitch tree.
First appearance: October 14th, 2010
Originally brought in to replace Jacob when he was in a downward spiral of addiction and when Galasso decided he needed to fill a racial quota more in line with the local demographics. When the drama surrounding him, Jacob, Amber, and Faz died down, he instead transitioned to being Mayala's unwanted Dogged Nice Guy which pulled him the wake of her Base Breaker status. Since then, he's developed a little bit by showing that he's a Transformers fan as well and to a much greater extent by getting over Malaya.He and Lucy are currently dating.
Asian and Nerdy: He's nearly as Transformers-obsessed as Ethan and has web design experience, although Word of God says Star Wars is his favourite fandom.
Dogged Nice Guy: To Malaya, much to her disgust. Their roommate Arnold told him to "stop barking up the bitch tree."
Operation Jealousy: Subverted to hell and back. Ken asks out Conquest to try to make Malaya, who has absolutely no feelings for him, jealous. Surprisingly, she accepts and in fact fully intends to have sex with him from the beginning. After some deliberation on whether or not to "betray" Malaya he goes through with it. Not only does the situation help him get over Malaya, but she actually gets a little jealous once he stops paying attention to her.
Satellite Character: Beyond his initial two gags (the race quota and Malaya's wannabe boyfriend), he really only appeared in a few strips related to Ethan's toy collecting, and he didn't appear in the main cast photo in the banner. With the departure of Ethan, Mike, and Amber from the store, though, he's now up on the banner, and he may have a chance to grow out of this trope.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Before Ethan left he was a minor character. Now that he's gone he's basically morphed into a straight, Asian version of Ethan.
I got called stupid by other people for thinking my "dumb-cartoon knock-off" version was worthwhile. But now I've decided I don't care. I like superheroes, I like them my way, and I will happily sell them to little girls at a toy store, and I am impervious to the judgments of jerkwads.
First appearance: September 26, 2011, September 3, 2012 (as regular)
During her youth, she was an avid fan of the Teen Titans cartoon, gaining inspiration from Starfire. She was disappointed by her characterization in recent DC books, but remains interested in superheroes. Lucy became Amber's replacement at the San Francisco Shortpacked!, through which she aspires to sell superhero toys to young girls.She and Ken are currently dating.
A-Cup Angst: Given by a customer in this strip. Noted in the comments section.
Legacy Character: Subverted. It seems like she's going to be the next Amazi-Girl, but she's disturbed by the aggression the costume brings out and feels it means more to Robin than her.
Love Triangle: Downplayed. Both Ken and Jacob were interested in her, but Jacob never really acted on it and has since moved out.
Ultra Car Rosenthal
I'm not going to be a hybrid! ... Hybrids are snotty, insufferable vehicles who think they're better than everyone else...actually, since I am better than everyone else, I think we should make this happen immediately.
First appearance: April 2, 2007 (in box), April 3, 2007 (May 4, 1998 as a normal SUV in Roomies!; July 7, 2004 as an artificial intelligence in It's Walky!; November 23, 2006 as a hybrid in Joyce and Walky!; March 26, 2013 as a humanoid in the comic you're on the page for now
Ultra Car's history is fairly complex: she started out as an ordinary SUV belonging to one Danny Wilcox, before being fitted with artificial intelligence, flight capacity, and offensive weaponry to fight a Martian invasion by her parents Joe Rosenthal and Rachel. After being upgraded to a hybrid hatchback, they eventually shipped her over to Shortpacked! to help Robin find the Drama Tag, and she's worked in the stockroom there since. In 2013, she got a new body once again, resembling a human female.As a machine, Ultra Car's got some strong feelings about human beings—disguising, inferior creatures by and large only worthy of her disdain. (Or so she'd have you think, as she's displayed some signs of insecurity, and she does like some people.) To this end, she expends a lot of energy pranking people, with methods ranging from the mundane and played-out (pie to the face, tripwires) to the ludicrous (stranding people in the Amazon rainforest.) She also relates strongly to the movie Short Circuit.Current girlfriend of Malaya.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: As revealed in the 4/24/14 strip, under her clothes, Ultra Car has no separate breasts, nipples, or vagina.
Daddy Issues: Her asexuality and outright disdain for human mating practices puts her pretty completely at odds with her creator, Joe Rosenthal, and leaves their relationship more than a little strained.
Morphic Resonance: Her recent shift from anthropomorphic car to humanoid female has left i—er, her, sorry—with many traits indicative of her former form, amongst them dark red hair, square glasses (to resemble the headlight-eyes), and roller skates.
Inferiority Superiority Complex: Obsessed with proving her superiority over "meatsacks"...through juvenile pranks (somewhat toned down recently). She also had no idea about her polite, mass-produced brethren until Jacob specifically pointed them out, despite info about them being all over the Internet.
Jacob: You were subconsciously protecting your fragile, insecure psyche?
UC: I am not insecure.
Jacob: You just threw a stupid cream pie at me to prove your superiority.
Pie in the Face: Damn near constantly. It's pretty much the only way she knows to act on her disdain for people (beyond dumping them in The Amazon) and it's even been treated as a compulsion.
Jesus Was Way Cool: He's portrayed as a friendly man who spends most of his time promising nice customers that kindness is always rewarded. He has less patience for stuck-up rich guys, and is unimpressed by Ethan working on the Sabbath.
Former Shortpacked! Staff
Thad: I think at some point your love of your hobby was replaced bit by bit by merely wanting to be better at loving your hobby than other people.
First appearance: January 17th, 2005
A thirty-something with a serious toy fixation, Ethan is an expert on all things Batman and Transformers and owns dozens upon hundreds of toys from each franchise. He was most often seen arguing with some of the store's dumber customers, trying in vain to sort out their myopic and under-researched views on the toy business. He was the first to tell Galasso when he's doing something stupid or evil or both, and his supposed status as Only Sane Man has inflated his ego a bit with regards to his own righteousness.Ethan is gay, though it's not a particularly defining character point for him, and his relationships with other dudes are treated as normal by the comic.He left the store in April 2013 due to sheer irritation at his job and the increasing profitability of his stand-up comedy.
Author Avatar: Though Willis himself lacks most of Ethan's neurosis, they share a lot of the same pet peeves with regards to the fandom.
Author Filibuster: Ethan is frequently used as the author's mouthpiece for ranting about Transformersfandom as well as fandom in general. He goes through a fair amount of Self-Deprecation about this, though.
Characterization Marches On: Ethan started out as the Straight Man, with no real defining quirks outside of his being a fan of Batman and Transformers. But both of these elements, in combination with his Fan Hater tendencies towards members of the latter fandom, gradually turned him more self-righteous and more fanatical. While the Straight Man aspect of his character still lingers, the role's now much more likely to be filled by Leslie, Jacob or—as those two also have their fair share of quirks—a random bystander or Bit Character.
Fan Dumb: Ethan's obsessions with Batman and Transformers is an In-Universe example, which mirror David Willis' own. (Specifically, he's a Fan Hater while being a member of the fandoms he hates.) Things get really surreal when Willis cameos...and gets into a brawl with Ethan over the Transformers Wiki.
Informed Judaism: It'll come up occasionally, mostly in comics making fun of fundamentalists, but overall we don't hear about it much. Ethan eventually mentions he's more ethnically than religiously Jewish, his parents having kept the label merely out of spite towards the people who have attempted to wipe out the Jews.
Mistaken for Gay: Subverted—while Amber tells Robin that Ethan's gay just to rattle her, Ethan figures out he's gay when Robin confronts him about it.
Man Child: His obsession with toys and insistence on winning arguments with the most thickheaded people qualify him for this.
Amber, initially, was shy, awkward and suffering from a serious inferiority complex, but has grown over the course of the comic into a strong and confident character with arguably the fewest quirks of the cast save for a mild sadistic streak. Her main nerdish tendencies are towards Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony and manga, with the latter being far less pronounced than the two former. She also has a sort of superhero character of her own design, Amazi-Girl, whom she dresses as occasionally (and tends to get a Moment Of Awesome when she does.) She left to manage a new Shortpacked store in Denver, funded by Joe Rosenthal.Currently married to Mike Warner, the two of whom have a kid together. See below.
Abusive Parents: Amber suffered from self-esteem issues out the cahoozie due to a rather demanding and unforgiving father who's been shown to be physically violent. In fact, the only reason she was sad when he died was because she never got the chance to show him how much she'd grown out from under him.
What Does She See in Him?: Jacob point blank asks Amber why she would possibly want to marry someone like Mike telling her she could do better. It might have worked if he had given her this speech a year or two ago, but by this point she's genuinely in love with him, against all odds.
You want something horrible done to that little Faz kid. You've got a good rep and believe in "principles", so you're asking me to do it, since I like to be a jerk. And just in case it turns out I need a motive, you're hoping to push the idea that I'm aiding in your moral corruption, and that I will find that idea appealing. But [you're forgetting] that I can be an even bigger asshole by not only leaving Faz alone, but pointing you're going down that path already merely by asking me this favor.
First appearance: February 11, 2005 (April 16, 1999 in Roomies!)
Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, and that jerk has a heart of jerk too. He specializes in making people feel awful about themselves, though when he doesn't have any dirt to use a Groin Attack or Your Mom joke will do in a pinch.Becomes nice when drunk. Amber found this out, and blackmailed him into dating her. From there, the relationship grew into something far more genuine, and Mike's become capable of actually being nice to her. The two now are married and have a kid.
Back from the Dead: Died at the end of It's Walky!, and his resurrection was deliberately left unexplained for eight years afterwards. Around 2012 more and more hints began piling up, eventually leading to the reveal that Joyce arranged for his resurrection with stolen resurrection-chamber blueprints and a few calls to a non-government tech agency, as repayment for his death saving her life.
I've come to believe that the conservative way of life, what I stood for, is about personal responsibility ... It shouldn't be about sides. When you worry more about sides than what the good Lord taught you, you weren't on the right side to begin with. Unless we're talking about those darn communists, with their souls full of maggots.
First appearance: February 2, 2005
Former president and dead guy, resurrected by Galasso when he overheard Ethan saying "bring back anything from the '80s and it's money in the bank." "Ronnie" is played as a kindly old man, slightly absentminded, with an occasional tendency to burst into a Patriotic Fervor and total inability to retain information about AIDS.
Put on a Bus: Disappeared July 24, 2009 for parts unknown, and has appeared exactly twice since—once for his 100th birthday, and once in a joking explanation of his disappearance.
First appearance: June 26, 2006
Galasso's daughter, whom he constantly tries to get to sire him an heir. (She can't be his heir because she's a girl—a fact that only matters to the normally gender-blind Galasso because her Missing Mom mentioned it to him before whatever happened to her happened.) After trying desperately for a while to earn his approval, she left the store and went on to found a highly successful chain of toy stores on her own.
Dumb Blonde: Averted. Conquest is quite intelligent and competent in her own right and wishes her father would see it.
Ethical Slut: Conquest has been encouraged for a large part of her life to have sex with a large number of partners to create an heir for Galasso. After she finally tells him off, she keeps at it because she just happens to enjoy sex.
Expy: Appropriately, Conquest is almost exactly Talia al Ghul, as is befitting Galasso's own expy status.
Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Well, mad store owner's beautiful daughter. She has a lot of sex, at her father's urging, as he "needs a male heir". What he doesn't know is she's on birth control and has been for quite a while.
He wants an heir, and she's a nymphomaniac. "Lots of sex" is the one thing they agree on.
Put on a Bus: Finally told Galasso off and left to make her own fortune in 2007, and returned briefly in 2010 with the reveal that she had done exceedingly well for herself (even being able to terrify Galasso with the prospect of opening a competing store.) She also played a big part in the 2012 story arc which led to Amber and Mike leaving.
Spock Speak: She mixes large, poetic words with a blunt, terse speaking style.
How come I'm the only one in this store who has a therapist?
First appearance: August 13, 2009
Jacob is perhaps the stablest, most level-headed cast member after Leslie - not that that says much. He was at law school when the pressure and his addictive personality got to him, and now he's trying to get back on his feet (while dodging the unwanted advances of many, many women). He had a crush on Amber for a while and was in a sort-of Love Triangle with Lucy and Ken.Jacob finished his degree and left the store in March 2014 (around the same time his Dumbing of Age counterpart started gaining importance).