Not only am I a writer and cartoonist, I am also a musician. When I write about these silly characters, I listen to a certain playlist dedicated to just them.
Each character has a theme song. Not only does it remind me of said character, it gives the reader insight behind the character’s personality, behavior, and interests. Please stay tuned as this list will grow over time.
Back in 2017, I wanted to create a character inspired by my parents’ elderly neighbor who would call them several times a day, asking for favors, not taking no for an answer. Her original name was “Katy Scary.” However I felt the need to make some changes as the neighbor had gotten ill and sadly passed away.
Instead of modeling the Hurlbutt matriarch after my parents’ neighbor, a former co-worker came to mind who fit the personality and loo of the character I was developing..
Some time ago, I had worked in a call center. If you had to call T-Mobile and were greeted by “Rep 12-3456”, that was me, and yes that was my real ID. Seated to my left was a young male who told tall tales of going to Afghanistan over the weekend and coming back to work on Monday. Seated to my right was this lady who wore muumuus to work every day, until our supervisor complained about her violating our already casual dress-code.
This 55-ish slovenly lady asked me for help with her workstation and her calls. I have always loved to help people, however I felt this woman took advantage of me by asking the same questions repeatedly without showing her appreciation. At this call center, we could all relate to the challenges working with our customer base and would go up to a random representative in the break room and vent. However, the main inspiration behind PJ seemed like she was uncut for the job due to her poor emotional range. She had no regard for boundaries, just randomly talking to people bugging them, even if they had made it clear they were busy.
Back in 2019, I parodied the Peloton bike ad which raised controversy from its sexist overtones. I drew her son Damien dreaming up the idea of buying one of their bikes to help his mother lose weight.
Of course, her next-door neighbor Sybil Kibble thinks PJ is great, because she is just as moronic.
Back when I had just graduated high school and was looking forward to attending college, I applied for — and got — a job at a local drive-in movie theater. Despite the pressure put on young folks to get a job, employment was not easy to come by in a small city about to lose a couple tens of thousands of its people due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
Despite the odds, I managed to get a part-time job working at one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in my state. The first day went well. My supervisor was impressed with my work ethic and ability to work with customers. He warned me about the theater owner; saying he will either love me or hate me.
The next day I met the person who would later become the main inspiration behind my character Konrad “Kon” Teirant, the CRASS Accounting Chief, Cinema-13 owner and Vaudeville troop Moronic Half Assets emcee. The theater owner put the skinny blonde girl up front to collect tickets, while placing heavyset and awkward goth chick me to work behind the scenes. He could not wait to complain.
“Fill that popcorn bag. No fill it up more. Does that look full to you? It does not take a genius to figure it out. Look, I don’t think it is going to work out.” Puzzled and stunned, I asked him what he meant. He told me to leave and not come back. I never got paid for the work I had done for him.
I remember calling up my cousin, crying because I had lost my job that summer I graduated. She called the theater owner “a tyrant”. I did not know that he was a grandiose narcissist, because narcissism was never talked about in our area. I wish they would teach about it in schools, the signs of these personality traits and how to avoid them. I also wish the boards in charge of school curricula would create reforms which mandate schools teach empathy skills.
I found out later that he owns a chain of theaters in the region. I saw him in a restaurant a few years later, bragging out loud about having been flown to Atlanta, and getting loaned an Armani suit to wear for whatever business deal he was trying to get, or “big bag” as he called it.
A few years later, I was sick as a dog on Christmas Day, and called into work at my then call-center job. I wrote a song about a character I called “King Tyrant.” I made a crude sketch of him holding a “big bag”. I played the song live a few times but it was not well received, and it was not very fun to play anyway.
In 2017, after having left an emotionally abusive relationship with a communal narcissist, I started writing and creating characters. I wrote a lot. I drew a lot. To cope with having been emotionally abused and being all on my own on the verge of suicide, I wrote short stories and launched MoronicArts. I drew my very first sketch of the now-renamed Konrad Teirant while receiving treatment for suicidal ideation in a psychiatric unit.
I can certainly say writing, drawing, and having zero contact with my emotionally abusive former husband have helped me heal a lot. I write to help people laugh and make myself giggle at the same time. Laughter is one of the best medicines, for me anyway and I hope to continue to pay it forward, as I would never wish what I went through on my worst enemy.
Kankakee bill-collector and dog-food enthusiast Sybil Kibble wants to tell the world how much she appreciates blogger Willow Croft for interviewing her maker Jen on the site HorrorTree. We at the Moroniverse appreciate our regulars — you rock!
As a tribute to my late friend Caroll Spinney — the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch — I am telling the backstory of my Grouch-inspired character Gothic Diana Ross.
Oscar the Grouch is not a bad person, despite what millions of kids big and small may think. Oscar just wants to be left alone. Like Oscar, Gothic Diana Ross just wants her solitude. Just like Maria knocking on Oscar’s can just to ask him nosey questions, Diana’s neighbor Bernadette keeps knocking on the door of the slate Victorian house which she and The Midnight Supremes share.
Can you blame them for getting mad?
A lifelong Diana Ross fan, I appreciate the diva singers most. Back in 2017, a few months after I left a toxic marriage with a communal narcissist, I met another diva online. Because my post-traumatic stress disorder was so raw, I would lash out at people whom triggered me so easily. I had felt like everyone was a narcissist after leaving one. Sadly, I had gotten very upset at a certain gothic diva and I feel bad about it.
Combining my love for music, all things gothic and my friend Caroll Spinney, I created Gothic Diana Ross and The Midnight Supremes as a nod to some of my favourite performers.
Eventually I got to apologize to the gothic singer and felt a lot better.
Writing the conflict scenes between Gothic Diana Ross and her annoying neighbours Peppi and Bernadette “Bern” Moran Cacca feels very cathartic for me. Sonia Manzano (“Maria”) is quoted as having said Caroll playing Oscar “saved a lot on therapy” in the book “Jim Henson: The Works.”
Hopefully my stories will help bring the world a little joy, and I get to leave the world a little better someday far from now when I am gone.
Rest in peace, dearest Caroll Spinney. I miss you.
Sybil is busy calling up people and bothering them right now, so this is Jen here filling in.
I created Sybil in response to the constant harassment from the moronic debt collectors who could not care less about my situation, and started writing to help cope with my extreme physical and emotional pain.
Manteno’s own Peppi and Bernadette Cacca might seem like empty characters at first, however there is a much darker side to them. Like all my characters, the Caccas are inspired by a combination of real people.
I have known Bernadette’s main inspiration my entire life. She had lived next to my grandmother. As kids, she was the entitled brat who wanted things her way or the highway. I used to try and dodge her, running the other way because she annoyed me so much, but then she would not leave me alone.
I clearly remember her insisting on calling me my deadname, despite my pleas for her to stop. Bernadette hasn’t any concept of boundaries and neither does her main inspiration. She just pretends to care.
In high school, she had found a way to manipulate people into thinking she was a wonderful person. I had to ask her an urgent question for a design I was creating for a play in which she starred, right before I had to catch the bus to trade school to design it. Instead of turning around and answering me, the “stage manager extraordinaire” sitting atop a desk kept talking faster and louder to the other student, drowning me out.
To add insult to injury, the real-life communal narcissisttricked the teacher into making ME apologize to HER. I will never forgive her for that abuse.
The real-life communal narc had been working on an app-only HBO show of some sort and playing piano for an LGBTQIA+ charity. You read that right; the same person who deadnamed me repeatedly is raising money for an LGBTQIA+ cause. Hmmm…
Now she is gaslighting people into thinking she cares about the Russian invasion into Ukraine, singing at charity events to raise money, and course to get that almighty photo opportunity. My best friend and her husband have family in Ukraine; this is personal for me. I do not care about a moronic photo op when my friends and their family are fighting for their lives, running from a DIC-tator who wants to bring about the Apocalypse.
I read she yelled at a late-night television host for getting too close to her piano. This behavior does not surprise me, having come from a person who has a history displaying her sense of entitlement to those closest to her.
I created my character to help cope with a lifetime of abuse from a narcissist who tricks virtually everyone into seeing her mask, which I suspect has been crumbling. I hope it falls off for good and she slithers away into a life of obscurity, working by herself, abusing nobody. Or maybe she will live out her life in the bog, devouring the living like the character whom she had inspired, Bernadette Moran Cacca.
Have you known a person like this?
Peppi Cacca’s name came from a rabid doorman in Italy who sexually assaulted me. Character Peppi Cacca’s main inspiration is a toxic, former neighbor who had stunk up my apartment with skunky weed and sadly abused his cat. I had gotten the idea from Pepe LePew and used to call him Pepe LePuke as I heard him through the ceiling vomiting every morning while he was upstairs visiting his boyfriend with whom he was having an affair. I am so glad to be out of that apartment complex, and in a much quieter, cleaner place – waking up to birds in the trees, not skunk-weed stench.
Awhile back, I had overheard him on the bus bragging to the driver about his drinking, making the excuse “can you blame me?”
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