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Cole Richards

The founder and chief executive officer of PvP Magazine, Cole Richards is, along with Jade, the grounding center of the main cast, often contrasting with the wild antics of the main cast (though he's been known to go off the reservation himself). Brent's college roommate and best friend since high school, Cole is was the only married member of the main cast. He's also the only one with children. Allegedly based on Richard Stockton, a friend of Scott Kurtz's.

Brent Irving Sienna

The co-founder of PvP Magazine and Cole's closest friend, Brent Irving Sienna-Fontaine, is in many ways Cole's Dramatic Foil. Where Cole is (usually) responsible, Brent often is brash and egotistical, and where Cole is proud of his geekiness, Brent vehemently denies it. Cole uses Windows, Brent uses Macs. You get the idea. However, while the two are very different, they also share many similarities, such as similar interests. Also, as of May 2008, Brent has left his place among the comic's bachelors and is now married to his long-term girlfriend, Jade Fontaine.

According to Scott Kurtz, Brent isn't based on anyone in particular, but his marriage with Jade is a "reflection" on his to his own wife, Angela.

  • Arch Enemy: With the Panda. Eventually became Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Becomes Francis's big brother figure by accident. Jade later points this out to him.
  • Blind Without'Em: Until he switched to his current pair of glasses, he was blind without his sunglasses due to wearing them for so long.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Although Brent is obsessed with boobs (or as he calls them "zoom a zooms"), he never cheats on Jade or is caught doing anything else particularly untowardly.
    • Brent claims this is because Jade controls his "boob supply," thereby rendering him subject to her judgment.
  • Closet Geek
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Fire Forged Pandas
  • The Lancer: Although Cole isn't The Hero, Brent more or less serves this role for him.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Sort of. By "evil," Brent really means "moderately jerkish." But he does find it sexy.
  • Happily Married: With Jade.
  • Geeky Turn On: One of many things that can turn Brent on is using a Mac.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Consciously claims to be evil (as a joke), bitterly snide and cynical, and generally rude to others, Brent nonetheless has a warm soft center you can get to if you try, often shown to Jade or to Skull (ironically given Skull is the one he is often most derisive of).
  • Hollywood Nerd: Played with. Unlike most examples, Brent isn't meant to be representative of nerds, but he clearly is one, in spite of breaking many stereotypes regarding nerds (handsome, socially adept, thin, etc.). Notably, he denies being a nerd constantly.
    • Want proof that he's a nerd? His proposal to Jade involved dressing up as Emperor Palpatine and then Han Solo.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Actually not, but he acts as though he does. When he went off coffee for a while, he actually ended up working better. Then he encountered something that required his caffeine-fueled drive. Then it turned out that he only needed to believe he was drinking caffeine. He went back to drinking coffee anyway.
  • Nerds Are Sexy
  • Proud To Be An Apple Geek: Is so obsessed with Apple products that when he was banned from all Apple stores for cutting the line of an iPhone line, thereby starting a fist fight, not only did he almost go into a coma, but he affected the sales of Apple so much that they lifted his ban.
  • Running Gag:
    • For a long time, the fact that Brent never took his sun glasses off and no one in the cast had seen his eyes was one. Ever since The Reveal happened (when he married Jade), this is no longer as much an issue.
    • Another Running Gag that's been dropped has been his constant suffering at the hands of the Office Panda, which started when he tried to replace Skull with the Panda. As of 2010, their feud has stopped and they're even friends -- of a sort.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: For Francis.
  • Shipper on Deck: Less enthusiastic about it then Jade, but he does help get Francis and Marcy back together and also takes part in the attempt to hook up Miranda and Reggie.

Jade Evelyn Fontaine

Jade Evelyn Fontaine-Sienna is, along with Cole, the most responsible member of the PvP staff and most likely to get work done. However, her work ethic strains against her own impulses for mischief and addiction to online gaming. Nonetheless, Jade is something of a maternal, governing figure for the group, who is at least as likely to try and be responsible as she is to goof off. For a long time, she was also the Token Female, before Marcy and later her sister Miranda were hired.

In 2008, Jade married her long-term boyfriend Brent Sienna, after several failed proposals on the latter's part. After debating over whether to change her name or not, the couple settled on a compromise. This made her, along with her husband and Cole, the only married character in the series.

  • Addiction Displacement: A recurring problem for Jade, who goes from being addicted to Ultima Online to Ever Quest to Dark Age of Camelot to World of Warcraft, much to Brent's frustration. Also was addicted to email for awhile, though this seems to have been dropped.
  • Art Evolution: Moreso than even the other characters. Compare her in 1998 and her in 2010.
  • Author Avatar / Write Who You Know: According to Scott, Jade is partially modeled after his wife. According to Angela (Scott's wife), Jade's more similar to him. Take your pick.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Not really. But the rest of the cast acts as if her single night in juvenile hall and teenage antics are a traumatic backstory, though in sort of an Evil Is Cool sort of way.
  • Dating Catwoman: This is how Cole and Brent (to a lesser extent) saw her date with Max Powers.
  • Gamer Chick: Averted. While Jade is a gamer and she is a woman, she doesn't fall into the particular stereotypes this trope exhibits.
  • Geeky Turn On: How did Brent get back together with Jade after their nasty break-up? By courting her online as a player on Dark Age of Camelot, dressing up in a big chainmail suit, and asking her to a romantic get-away in Las Vegas (where they had broken up the year previous).
  • Happily Married: With Brent.
  • Heroes Want Redheads
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Everyone except her mom thinks she's smoking hot.
  • Shipper on Deck: Jade maneuvers Francis and Marcy into getting back together and also tries to hook up her sister Miranda with any responsible man she can find. Double Subverted when her attempt with Miranda and Reggie backfires, only for them to get together anyway.
  • Straw Feminist: In the strip's early days, Jade was a lot more extreme regarding her views of sex relations, particularly as they pertained to gaming. Over time, she's mellowed out and it's no longer an issue in the comic, possibly due to the increasing awareness of female gamers in pop culture.
  • Team Mom
  • The Chick: Often resolves disputes. Unless she's part of the problem.

Francis Ray Ottoman

Initially the only minor in the cast, Francis is both a vindication and indictment of Generation Y (1980s through mid 1990s), both being incredibly intelligent and quick on his feet but also being self-centered and often obnoxious. Initially cast as something of a hardcore PC user, both as a contrast with Brent's Apple obsession and as a commentary on gamers deriding the console experience. Since then, however, Francis has branched out in other forms of nerdom and no longer has a particular prejudice against either Macs or consoles. Typically, Francis is used to represent the youth opinion in a battle of generations or as an example of a nerd who's truly proud to be one with no reservations.

Skull Theodore Troll

Skull Theodore Troll is a 400-year old troll who is the only non-human member of the PvP staff. Childish and innocent, Skull is something of an odd match even discounting his mythical nature, being completely sweet and good-hearted, quite large, and also unpaid (he works there officially as an intern). Skull was originally imported from Scott Kurtz's earlier comic, Tales By Tavernlight, and was modeled (at least initially) after the trolls featured in Ultima Online. Since then, however, he's become an integral part of the cast, the comic's mascot, and developed a rich backstory. His flatulence has also become a subject of great notoriety within the strip.

It was later revealed that Skull has in fact been Brent's guardian angel since Brent was a small child. How this fits in with his earlier backstory is unclear.

  • Author Avatar: To a certain extent, Skull represents Scott Kurtz.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The entire method by which Skull's species (and all other mythical creatures) exist. Without people's belief in them, they cease to exist.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Initially, Skull was just an import from Tales By Tavernlight, which was set in the world of Ultima Online. Then, it was later established that the characters of Tales By Tavernlight actually existed in the historic past. At some point, it was revealed Skull was present during the War of the Ring. Then, his cousin Shecky was revealed. Lastly, it appears that in addition to all these other details, Skull has also been Brent's guardian angel / imaginary friend since childhood.
  • Fartillery
  • The Heart: Many of the series' Crowning Moments of Heartwarming come from him, and he's definitely the most Pure of Heart within the cast.
  • Hidden Depths: Though most know better now, the cast initially didn't take Skull seriously at all and thought of him at best as a charming man child.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: For Brent. Overlaps slightly with Guardian Angel, since his job was to guide Brent to becoming a better person and a fully mature adult.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: An early Running Gag was Skull wanting to eat Francis. It was never made clear if this was true or if Skull was just joking around.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Early in the strip Skull announced he was female. This was later revealed to be a joke on Skull's part to get attention.
  • Species Surname
  • Weirdness Censor: Certain people can't see Skull. It's unclear exactly how this works, since while it was initially suggested only the Pure of Heart could see him, this had a principle flaw: the person in question who couldn't see him (Max Powers) isn't any more evil then Brent, who can. Furthermore, later on, Shecky shatters Max Powers' inability to see him.
    • Fridge Brilliance hits when you realize that the reason Max and others can't/couldn't see Skull likely has to do with them not believing in mythical creatures. Most people who can't see Skull see a dog (or a gorilla) instead, even though he doesn't look like either.

Max Powers

Arch-ennemy of Cole... Or so he seems to think about him that way. His animosity towards him dates back to college, where Max "stole" a girl Cole liked.

  • Badass Beard: Happens at some point. He shaved it, but grew it back.
  • Growing the Beard: Almost literally. Max becomes more and more likeable as the comic goes on, he literally gains a beard, becomes able to see Skull (he was the only one at the office not able to see him), saved the magazine... And moved the entire cast to Seattle.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Max broke into Cole's office to search for bank statements because Cole was ignoring Max's concerns about the magazine's finances even though Cole knew they were pretty much screwed.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Much of the cast suspects Max Powers is gay. He's hinted as much, but won't give a straight answer (as it were). Lately, he seems to be dating someone... named Chris.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: In the beginning. It's even repeatedly lampshaded by the comic that Max isn't bad; Cole and Brent just hate him.
  • Straight Gay
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Kinda suffers from this.
  • Ted Baxter: Subverted with Max Powers. The audience is initially warned that he's one, but upon closer scrutiny, it turns out that Max is actually a pretty decent guy (if a bit of a dork).
    • Prior to his Great American Journey sanding off the obnoxious edges of his personality, he was routinely treated as one, even though he didn't really deserve it. Cole hated him with a passion; none of the others felt quite so strongly, but they found his dorkiness so incredibly grating that it overshadowed his numerous redeeming qualities.
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