Penny and Aggie is a Betty and Veronica pastiche with Les Yay and a healthy dose of that T Campbell (of Fans! fame) weirdness.The comic mainly focuses on the titular teenagers: Penny, a cross between Lovable Alpha Bitch and the Naïve Everygirl, and Aggie, a wanna-be activist who torments Penny for no particular reason aside from Penny being the most popular girl in school. Penny leads a life of affluence, stability, and popularity, while Aggie's still recovering from the death of her mother and the concept of her widowed father possibly dating again. The comic grew to an extremely large cast, mostly consisting of Penny's clique, Penny's enemies, and later even Aggie's own clique of weirdos and oddballs. The comic's plot tends to revolve around how all these people mesh and conflict with each other in the savage jungle of high school. Plus a large amount of Ship Tease over whether the titular characters are also into each other.While for the most part, Campbell's noted weirdness has kept itself to fantasy sequences, these can drag out for weeks and weeks of strangeness - the filler strips have even taken place in alternate universes in which the main characters have magical powers. Originally, the artistic style of the strip was set by Gisèle Lagacé of Ménage à 3, though she eventually departed the strip to focus on her own work. Her replacement, who tried to keep her style as much as possible, is T's longtime collaborator Jason Waltrip (also from Fans!!). In December 2010, Campbell confirmed on the comic's forum that the plotline beginning in December 2010, "Last Summer of Youth", would conclude the series; it ended on August 26 of the following year, followed by a Distant Finale ending September 26.A spin-off/sequel starring Sara and Lisa, QUILTBAG, began running on the Penny and Aggie website in October 2011 a few weeks after the conclusion of its predecessor, then moved to its own subdomain on Keenspot in January 2012.The comic has a storyline guide.Connected to the Walkyverse by way of Helen's departure for Boston in Something Positive.
The Minjung Filler story was meant to tie into the main strip somehow, but as the end of the series approached, T later admitted to having had no idea of how to resolve it. Even so, Yun-Sung finally made a reappearance in the epilog of the strip as Duane's girlfriend though many readers didn't recognize her until someone finally gave her name because of the difference in art style.
Abusive Parents: The introduction to Charlotte's mother features her slapping her daughter across the face and berating her for doing a private interview with the police, rather than letting her do the talking. During Duane's interview with the cops, he raises his suspicions about such treatment as well, though after the conclusion of Missing Person, Charlotte's serving out a prison sentence, which finally gets her away from her mother.
Also Charisma, by making it clear multiple times that she resents being a mother and having very little care for her son's feelings, until she loudly declared that he was put on this earth to get in her way and slow her down. In public. In front of hundreds of people.
Penny's parents, despite being portrayed as attentive, actually let Penny's friends keep convincing them that Penny is with them for several days when she ran away from home.
Nobody from the school, not a teacher or administrator, ever appears in the arc in which Sara is accused of raping Charlotte. In the real world, this is a punishable offense that would require at least some level of teacher involvement. Extremely strange in that administrators do get involved when Penny and Aggie keep feuding in the halls, when Aggie commandeers the school's PA system, and after Rich gets kicked out of school.
Averted gradually but decisively with regard to Cyndi's dangerous and sadistic schemes, beginning in "Her Private Chambers" and culminating in "Missing Person." See the entry on the corresponding trope page.
Averted in "The Last Summer of Youth: May," when Penny's parents, Rob and Lynda, prevent a potential date rape at her party—and do it with style.
All Elections Are Serious Business: Done over two student council election arcs. Stan, Cyndi, and Aggie take these far too seriously, despite a joke about students not even realizing a student council even existed.
Both Penny and Meg point out on at least one occasion how completely ridiculous everyone was treating the virtually useless title.
All There in the Manual: Someone reading the comic alone and not also following along on the forums where the author, an enormous fan of the "Show, Don't Tell" principle, explains some pretty important plot points that could otherwise be lost. This is particularly noticeable in "The New Reality" where, among other crucial details, the very name of Sara's reality show (Hot Lights) appears only in the forum, and only after someone asked Campbell what it was.
A number of characters that didn't show up in the series finale had their epilogs dealt with during "Ask T" posts on the forums. Though with a sequel running, there's always a chance that some of these characters could potentially get a proper shout-out in Quiltbag.
Alpha Bitch: Penny is seen this way by Aggie early on and the Omega Sisters. Meg apparently was one of these before Penny took her out.
Alone with the Psycho: "Charlotte and Cyndi" - they're both dangerous loons, but in two very different ways.
Animesque: Lagacé's art style was a blend between Archie Comics and anime with it being closer on the anime spectrum. Waltrip's art still keeps a mild animeish theme, but stays closer to the western cartoon style.
Art Evolution: Lagacé's style started out cartoonish before morphing into a more realistic style during her tenure on the strip. When Waltrip took her place as artist, his style, though similar to Lagacé's by design, gave many of the female characters larger lips and bigger busts.
Babies Ever After: Jack and Katy-Ann in the epilogue, with one son and another child on the way.
The Beard: Fred and Daphne are both gay, and they spend enough time together that they could easily be mistaken for boyfriend-girlfriend. Fred later jokes about doing the same for Penny during Meg's graduation ceremony.
Camp Gay: Fred for much of the strip. The epilog shows that he mellowed out considerably after high school.
Canon Welding: Penny and Aggie shares a multiverse with T Campbell's other strips - cameos of alt-universe versions of characters from Fans and Cool Cat Studio appear at various points.
Cast Full of Gay: Between actual coming out stories and multitudes of inner monologues showing characters thinking about crushes on the same sex, one may wonder why Fred and Daphne ever complained about a lack of gay students at their school, although to be sure the comic focuses on a small, non-randomized subset of the student population. It's also a mystery as to why Fred drew the short straw as the only gay male in the cast. During the lead-up strips to Quiltbag, T revealed that he and Jason had been jokingly calling Penny and Aggie "Incredibly Lesbian Comics".
Cerebus Syndrome: The increasingly dramatic nature of the arcs, especially Missing Person, led to some debate over whether the strip was descending into this when the original premise was essentially the teenage girl version of Tom and Jerry.
Chick Magnet: Darren Danforth, despite being essentially a passive and somewhat dim, if good-hearted, klutz, inadvertently draws girls' romantic attention as they project their own personalities and interests onto him.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Sara fears that Daphne may be this while sharing her room with Lucy out of compassion for her
Comeback Tomorrow: In one strip, Aggie held back a comeback deliberately so as not to start a fight with Penny...leading to her suddenly screaming it out at two completely unrelated people well after Penny had left.
Continuity Lockout: The comic attempted to address this by having the homepage display a summary of the plot and character descriptions for the key players; this only appeared for a few weeks. It's still more appropriately read with an Archive Binge. The current archive page encourages the latter, while also pointing out some key arcs to give new fans some background if they're too impatient.
Contrived Coincidence: Penny knows the exact place and time to drive by and find Aggie crying in a heap and having suicidal thoughts because of an argument she started with Marshall over Karen. Penny even knows the exact contents of a telephone conversation Aggie just had with Karen, in which Aggie said nothing. A few pages later, Penny explained that Sara told her where to find Aggie, but that doesn't explain the precision - or why nobody ever noticed Penny driving around the block and stalking Aggie by car. The car does not appear until the moment of the phone conversation.
Dan Browned: Fans with experience with Islam and Scientology have pointed out some major errors in T's depiction of them. T's response was that he only showed two individuals; he felt he'd portrayed the Scientologist as clearly insane, while the Muslim student is still closeted and only a recent convert trying to learn the religion on his own time.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Penny, while she certainly likes male attention, has trouble early on with actual intimacy.By the end of the comic, she turns a shouting match with Aggie into violently passionate rage sex that demolishes a room and most of the girls' clothes. It's safe to say she's well past this trope now.
Double Subverted in regards to Charlotte. She's introduced as nutty, cold and eager to "punish" whomever she thought deserved it, but her interactions with Duane showed her getting mellower... Until The Stinger of the second chapter of the Missing Person arc reveals that she is the one who kidnapped Cyndi. But in the third chapter her motivation for doing so is implied to be related to Cyndi's actions hurting others, especially Duane, and Charlotte tells him that she is a better person for having met him.
Everyone Is a Suspect: Because Cyndi has so many enemies, the detectives on the case realize they have their work cut out for them.
Everytown, America: Belleville. Although some readers see in the comic geographic and climatic hints of Campbell's Norfolk, Virginia hometown, he has confirmed only that it's situated somewhere within the East Coast United States.
Fashion Dissonance: A rare modern example with some of Jason's art for the strip. Several fans on the P&A forums have pointed this out.
Faux Yay: Cyndi tells Marshall this is why she kissed Daphne to mess with her head.
Fictional Sport: "Smackball" is referenced in the epilog, in which Brandi is a star player in the future. On the forums, T mentioned it as being something like a cross between jai alai and tennis.
Filler Strip: Various guest-artists showed up when the original artist would take vacations, often with varying levels of popularity. The strips themselves were considered canon, several of them going over minor characters that hadn't appeared in the strip in great detail - or in the case of Randy Milholland's strip "Omega Sisters," was actually the first real appearance of Helen, Charlotte, and Tharqa. However, "Minjung", featuring a pair of kids in Korea who had no known link to the P&A characters, was so hated that T Campbell was forced to admit it in the forum, and said he was "trying to learn a lesson" about it, despite he himself loving it. It didn't help that it was slow-moving, the art was simplistic, and that it took place in the middle of some very intense storytelling. Most other Filler Strips have actually been in-continuity and with current characters, just drawn by other people. Jason Waltrip worked on one of the early filler strips before he later stepped in to take over the comic itself.
Five-Bad Band: According to Karen's description of her clique in "The Popsicle Wars":
Flat Character: Subverted with Michelle, who is flat out described in detail in the comic about how she is a simple, flat person, who doesn't have that much depth. Oddly enough this seems to make her character more deep and human than ever before.
Foe Yay: In-universe, Sara pretty much shipped Penny and Aggie during their entire rivalry. The comic itself toys liberally with the idea throughout the entire length of the comic before finally giving in for the final story arc and making them a couple. Then throws a monkey wrench into things in the finale and the epilog.
For the Evulz: Everything Cyndi does. Her parents eventually realize she's a genuine sociopath and have her committed to a mental institution.
Four Lines, All Waiting: The cast of regulars was downright monstrous by the time of The Popsicle Wars and veered from plot to plot at breakneck speed. Though they were dramatically pared down after the conclusion of the arc, it slowly crept back up in the years afterward.
Friends with Benefits: Stan and Brandi were this on and off for over a year, as were Stan and Cyndi until she started to show her colors.
And more recently, Stan and Lisa.
Funbag Airbag: Aggie ran into Karen's breasts during "Dinner for Six"... and was worried because it turned her on a little bit. According to Word of God, the fans were meant to take this as the clincher as to whether she liked girls - see Show, Don't Tell
Good Parents: Both Aggie's father and both of Penny's parents are overall good and reasonable parents. Though they tend to occasionally get smacked with the general Adults Are Useless cluelessness when the comic needs to do a plot where the parents involvement would be an obstacle.
Homoerotic Dream: Quite a lot of them. Penny alone has had three. After Sara plants the seed in Penny's head that her rivalry with Aggie is the result of Les YayUST, Penny has a dream with her then-boyfriend Duane and Aggie. Later, her mental sequence in which she imagines possible futures for herself about her decision to run away with Rich ends with a future Penny and Aggie living together and clearly in a relationship. Finally, Penny has another dream entirely about potentially hooking up with Aggie, in which Aggie and Lisa are naked and her gay friends are egging her on. Outside of Penny's confused sexuality, other characters have had a few of their own. Stan dreams of how he might be sleeping with Michelle only because it's the closest he's gotten to sleeping with his idol Rich. Sarah had a day dream about Lindsay Lohan before she finally came out of the closet. Aggie has a recurring dream about falling in love with a female mannequin that seems to represent Penny.
In Vino Veritas: Jack goes from quiet to belligerent when he's drunk. Helen becomes extremely talkative and sexually active after getting drunk at Karen's parties. Katy Ann starts blurting out her repressed sexual urges the first time she gets drunk, finally begging for Jack (who isn't actually there) to ravish her as she starts to strip down.
Karma Houdini: Meg and Samantha for their roles in Karen's schemes and Sam's role later in Cyndi's. Charlotte and Tharqa never faced direct consequences for a bomb scare attempt and a false rape accusation, though Charlotte's situation as a whole finally came to a head in "Cyndi and Charlotte". Stan and Cyndi, in different ways, finally got their comeuppance at the conclusion of "Mister Smiles" and "Missing Person", respectively.
Charlotte's mother, as stated on the forums, since Charlotte has no physical evidence of the abuse and her psychological state unfortunately damages any testimony she could make against her mother. Though one could argue that Ms. Simms is suffering in her own ways, she's still escaping justice.
T later explained on the forums that while Tharqa didn't receive any direct punishment for the events in high school, her general attitude from those events shaped her into a rather miserable and unloved individual as an adult. This is hinted at in the epilog as nobody wanted to talk to her at the reunion while she desperately sought attention.
Keeping the Enemy Close: Discussed and defied when Meg, after humiliating Penny in front of a boy she likes, invites her and her friends to a Slumber Party. Penny accepts, explaining afterward to her friends that Meg is practicing this trope, but that she plans to use it against Meg. At the party, Penny takes embarassing candid photos of her and shares them with her classmates, thereby ending Meg's reign as queen bee.
Kick the Dog: While not depicted in the strip, in response to a question about whether or not Cyndi tortured animals as a child, T. jokingly mentioned the history of her ant farm was troubling.
Last Minute Hookup: Plenty in the epilog, which takes place six years after the final high school strip and thus provides plenty of time for the characters to mix and mingle with each other and otherwise.
Michelle and Marshall are apparently at least involved with each other six years later. They never even spoke during the entire series.
Yun-Sung and Duane, who never even met on panel and lived in completely different parts of the world during the main series. Plus Yun-Sung hadn't been seen since her Aborted Arc.
Daphne and Fred both got completely new characters as their respective significant others.
Lets Wait Awhile: Marshall's attitude to Karen's constant badgering him for sex. Because A Man Is Not a Virgin, some of the fanbase turned on him for not instantly sleeping with his severely messed up girlfriend simply because she wanted him to, to the point where a fanart comic depicted him as unwilling to have sex even when they were married.
Love Dodecahedron: Prominent in the "Out Front" arc, with Cyndi seducing Duane (who is in a "book club" with Charlotte, a crazy bible-thumper), Stan, Jack (who's dating a non-crazy Christian named Katy-Ann), and Sara (who is a lesbian).
Love Letter Lunacy: Aggie makes a complicated love letter scheme to arrange for a date with Duane and Penny. It fails horribly and because Sara sees Aggie doing it, Sara assumes Aggie herself was trying to meet with Penny, setting off Sara's long Foe Yay shipping. Later on, Penny calls Aggie out on this when Aggie accuses her of turning down Duane because she's racist.
Mistaken for Gay: Karen thought Aggie was a lesbian for a full year after misinterpreting a comment she made shortly after they met; Sara thought so, too, for a much shorter stretch (not clear how long - possibly right up until Lisa told her she wasn't) due to Love Letter Lunacy. Of course, since then Aggie's sexuality has actually moved in that direction, so perhaps they weren't that far off.
Mistaken for Racist: Thanks to Aggie blowing up at Penny over Aggie's failed scheme to hook Penny and Duane up, Penny was labeled a racist by parts of the student body, especially Samantha.
The Mole: Sara finds out that two of her co-stars on her reality show are plants.
Mood Whiplash: For a particular example, the comedic tone of the Popsicle Wars suddenly swerved straight into sexual abuse and rape...then back to humor again. Within one day.
Most Writers Are Male: Once Gisèle moved on to... "bluer" pastures, practically every new outfit could be relied upon to draw a firestorm of mockery of the creators' sense of women's fashion.
Ms. Fanservice: Brandi and Cyndi, as drawn by Jason Waltrip. Their breasts have received a notable expansion since he took over.
One page during Gisele's run was altered after the page was posted to reduce Aggie's cupsize due to several readers noticing they seemed unusually large (and joking that her breasts inflated when she was angry).
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Stan confronts Cyndi about her attempt to deceive his best friend Jack, and other classmates, into thinking she wanted to sleep with them, he taunts her for not thinking big enough, so as to imply she's lost her touch and shake her confidence. Instead, she says "You're right. You're so right," and giggles ominously. Stan himself admits in the next strip that he made things worse.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Calvin Machrie, the director of the school play, physically resembles Colin Mochrie of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, while his personality and directing style are patterned after those of Mochrie's recurring "Hollywood Director" character.
No More for Me: Nick's reaction to his coffee cup upon witnessing Penny and Aggie entering the house together. As friends.
Odd-Shaped Panel: Brandi apparently hit Xena so hard that even the panel buckled from the force of the blow.
Offscreen Breakup: The title characters. "August" ends with their relationship in serious doubt, but with Aggie's promise to keep working at it. In the coda, a new, supporting character mentions, six years after the fact, that they indeed broke up during senior year.
Off The Wagon: Katy Ann discovers Jack's beer stash and despairs that he's done this already after promising to stay sober. As it turns out, the beer was over a year old and he'd had no plans to ever consume it, as it was a memento of his friend Rich who left town.
Happens for real later when Jack feels conflicted over his lust for Brandi and feeling more and more unworthy of a "good girl" like Katy Ann.
Pity the Kidnapper: When you think that Charlotte kidnapped Cyndi as a twisted expression of her own self-hatred and hatred for her abusive mother, she's pitiful enough. Then when Cyndi talks her into slitting her own throat, well...
Popular Is Dumb: Subverted with Penny, who is an extremely intelligent student with the same PPSAT score as Aggie.
In fact, the entire beginning of the comic was Aggie harassing Penny because she assumed by her appearance that Penny and her friends were shallow idiots.
Precision F-Strike: The characters use strong language fairly frequently, but it's been seen uncensored only twice, both "fuck you," first from Helen to Penny, while she's on the bus to Boston, then Daphne to Sara after they break up.
Put on a Bus: T. has stated in the past that certain characters, such as Rich and the entirety of the Injustice Gang (aside from Charlotte) were departing, but since then all of them came back for major or supporting roles in some of the 2010 storylines. Cyndi in particular moved into a role as a major villain in the strip. Helen was literally put on a bus...to Something Positive.
Put on a Bus to Hell: T has declared that Cyndi will never again be seen in the strip after being locked up in a mental hospital by her parents.
Rape as Drama: Charlotte's (false) accusations against Sara and Charlotte's own (implied) backstory. Strangely, the rape accusation against Sara was only played for school drama - no teachers or police ever get involved despite the accusation being plastered over the walls of the school and the internet. Furthermore, the worst thing that seemed to happen is students made fun of Sara (for being a lesbian - not for being a rapist) and later forgot about it. However, the slander resurfaces, by implication, in "The New Reality" when Hilary, Sara's peer director in her reality show, threatens, in retaliation for Sara calling her a "bully," to expose the "scandalous Internet rumors" about her, on the air. However, this never came to fruition since Sara managed to beat her to the blackmailing punch.
While that was the extent of it in Penny and Aggie, the first strips of QUILTBAG reveal that the video is still haunting her enough that she's legally changed her surname to distance herself from it.
Rape Is Love: Karen goes into a locker room shower to have sex with Marshall, who has to push her out physically. She then begins to give him a hand job without his consent, and although he doesn't resist, he makes his discomfort clear; even so, he stays with her afterwards, and initiates sex a few months later. Both people are still implied to be incredibly messed up but depending on one's interpretation there may be an implication that Karen should be excused for it because she's insecure and Marshall's resistance is "only" because his mother was a poor role model and a neglectful parent.
Rebus Bubble: Either "Aggie likes girls" or "Aggie performs open-heart surgery on Venus."
Relationship Upgrade: Sara and Daphne, after many tumultuous plot twists, eventually upgrade into lovers. Brandi and Stan finally decide to become exclusive after having a Friends with Benefits relationship for over a year. The title characters after being teased for years finally shipped in the final story arc.
Revealing Hug: A strip with Aggie hugging Lisa leads to that character suddenly realizing she might like girls.
Romantic False Lead: Rich to Penny (as well as a few of her other early relationships). The best example is a bit complicated, but starts with him wanting her to run away with him. Twenty of Penny's possible future selves show up (ten who went with him, ten who didn't), and vote 13-6 (one opted out) not to go with him. Penny goes anyway. All but one of the possible future Pennies fade away, except for the one narrating the story to a future version of Aggie, who is giving her a foot massage.
Scenery Censor: Various pieces of clothing, stealthy panel frames, word balloons, and even the characters own carefully positioned (but not deliberately positioned) hands conceal Penny and Aggie's bare crotches after their most powerful rage sex ever leaves them completely nude below the waist.
The two girls discussing the "code of e-silence" are Tiffany and Crystal from Luann. T.J. from the same strip later showed up to one of Karen's parties, despite T.J. being an adult (though T.J.'s of questionable enough character that it's not unrealistic for him to be trolling a party full of underage girls).
Charlotte's mother bears some striking similarities to Carrie's mother.
Show, Don't Tell: T Campbell is a major proponent of this, eschewing Info Dump and other forms of exposition like crazy. It gets unfortunate when a good chunk of fans have to go onto the forum to debate just what people are thinking or saying. The fact that we tend to only view snippets of dialogue, rather than large explanations, only makes it worse.
Skyward Scream: Katy-Ann lets out one when she finds Jack's beer stash after his promise to stay sober.
Charlotte's mother when she finds out about her daughter's imprisonment.
Sorry, I'm Gay: Aggie considers this as a possible response to turn down a guy.
Stalking Is Love: Subverted in the flashback with Lynda and Rob. Rob pranked her mercilessly, and Lynda reacted...how most humans would react. They eventually hooked up when he was sensitive during a time of need instead of her having to accept him.
Time Passes Montage: Parodied over several strips of Penny standing stock still until the heat death of the universe after Sara informs her of her belief that Penny and Aggie are experiencing UST.
Transparent Closet: Sara, though only to Penny, Lisa, Cyndi, and Katy-Ann - everyone else was completely oblivious until being told even after her gay makeover, which included a Venus symbol necklace.
Unrequited Love: Aggie to Marshall. Initially, Daphne to Sara, which causes tension between them when Sara is accused of raping Charlotte and the spurned Daphne chooses to believe it. Michelle to Rich.
Webcomic Time: The most extreme so far is taking three months and two chapters to tell the events of a single day.
Wham Episode: The ending of "Mister Smiles", leading into the "Missing Person" arc. In particular, Chapter 3, "Cyndi and Charlotte".
Wham Line: "Will you just! Kiss her! Already!" - And the central dynamic of the strip is fundamentally changed.
Will They or Won't They?: The titular characters, a dynamic that remained prominent for much of the strip, especially in the post-Popsicle Wars years. A hint of this showed up in the conclusion of "20 2020 Pennies", which showed Penny and Aggie in one potential future as a couple. This potential future even got a few subtle shout outs, and the author noted that that future's Penny was bisexual, though refused to elaborate outside of the strip. The entire final story arc dealt with the topic head on. In which they finally "did"...and then broke up during senior year. The epilog showed their reunion after six years from the break up, and then closed the strip on a cliffhanger as to whether they would get together again.
Wingding Eyes: Penny, Stan, and Aggie's reactions to the principal announcing the director of their school production of Macbeth.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Sam definitely seems to think she's in a Disney Channel movie; Lisa, a Diablo Cody film.
Zeerust: The Distant Finale, set six years in the future, shows several of the female characters wearing outfits of this type to their Class Reunion. Sara even lampshades this by telling Daphne, "The retro-future trend was made for you."