Recap / Penny And Aggie Smiley

Charlotte: Why are you being so kind to me?
Duane: It's time someone was.

This arc, featuring art by Jason and John Waltrip, takes place three days after the end of "The Popsicle War," in mid-October of the main cast's junior year. Duane finds a love sonnet from Charlotte in his locker. He's simultaneously intrigued by the possibility of a relationship with her, and scared of her religious intolerance and mentally unbalanced nature, and by the possibility that he may share some dark traits in common with her. Duane approaches Aggie for advice, and she vehemently dismisses the very idea of dating her, suggesting instead Michelle, whom she says is interested in him and wants to take things slow. He counters that Charlotte seemed vulnerable and "unhateful" at Karen's last party, and thinks he may be able to help her, and reminds Aggie of her goal to create a more inclusive social order at school.

While they argue, Charlotte walks the school halls, reflecting on how sinful she considers the world, and in particular her social environment. She feels, however, that she may be able to bring Duane to Christ by marrying him. However, she panics at the thought of performing "wifely duties" with him, and when she sees him heading her way, she runs outside. When Duane catches up to her, Charlotte at first denies having written the sonnet he's holding, claiming Penny must've done it to mess with him. But when he praises her poem and justifies his kindness to her (see page quote), she closes her eyes and purses her lips in preparation for a kiss. Duane, however, has made his decision: as he still feels he has some maturing to do, he'd rather be her friend. Since they share an interest in literature, he suggests they form a two-person book club.

Later, Charlotte endures an apparently typically uncomfortable dinner with her even more stern and religiously intolerant mother. Passing by her late father's portrait, she flinches as she recalls his roughly grabbing her arm. However, as she chats online with Duane about Henry David Thoreau's Walden, she finds herself smiling.


  • Abusive Parents: Charlotte's late father. The later arc "Missing Person" reveals her mother to be one as well.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me
  • The Fundamentalist: Charlotte, although not as straightforward an example as her mother.
  • Imagine Spot: Several in one strip, humorously illustrating Duane's fears of both accepting Charlotte's advances and rejecting them.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Discussed. Duane fears that he may share Charlotte's Irrational Hatred of Penny, imagining the two of them jeering as they burn her at the stake. Later, he confesses to Charlotte that his crush on her often made him "spiteful and delusional." Charlotte understands, recalling that moments before, she had thought of love as morally "suspect."
  • Lucky Charms Title: The actual title of this arc, unrenderable in wiki markup, is ":-)".
  • Make-Out Kids: The couple in this strip.
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: When Charlotte realizes that marrying Duane would involve sex ("wifely duties"), she freezes in terror and, when she then sees him heading her way, flees.
  • Shout-Out: Charlotte's IRC nickname is "Proverbs17.11," which is the biblical verse, "Evil people seek only rebellion, but a cruel messenger will be sent against them."
  • Villainy Discretion Shot: In this strip, a large hand, presumably that of the late Mr. Simms, grabs the terrified young Charlotte by the arm. What her father did next is left to the reader's imagination.
  • Stuffed into a Locker: Happens to the poor fellow in this strip.
  • With Friends Like These...: When Duane says the best he can offer her is friendship, Charlotte's initial reaction is to say, bitterly, "I've had 'friends,'" while thinking of Tharqa and Samantha.