Behind the Moroniverse: Peppi and Bernadette

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.

Bernadette fires her window-mounted Turd Machine at Gothic Diana Ross

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 narcissist tricked 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?”

I blame him for his own behavior.

Behind the Moroniverse: Konrad Teirant

Konrad “Kon” Teirant

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.

First concept sketch of Konrad Teirant

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.

Behind the Moroniverse – Pearl Jo Hurlbutt

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.

Behind the Moroniverse – Scary Barry and Terry Reynolds

Oh man. the main inspirations for Scary Barry and Terry Reynolds are people I hope you never encounter.

One hundred per cent miserable, and equally evil as her counterpart Barry, there is no pleasing Ms. Terry. She gets joy out of seeing others suffer. She’ll bite the hand that feeds her and once you’re sore from the fresh wound, she’ll bite it again to make it hurt that much more…

Imagine going on a trip overseas to study, experience different perspectives and have fun. That was my hope in the summer of 1999. when I took classes through my university for a study-abroad program in Italy.

What comes to your mind when you think about traveling?

Being forced to share a room with strangers who hated me was the last thing I expected.

Scary Terry was one of the haters. Much older than me, Terry made it a point to harass and belittle me. One time she woke me up and called me “whiny” because I was, you know, groggy like most people who just got up?

And then there was the time Terry told me to cover my legs. I have an autoimmune condition which affects my skin. get over it. Terry, if you don’t like it, then don’t look at it. Find something else to do in Italy than harass a fellow student.

I did smile when Terry had the audacity to talk trash about me at dinner, in front of all the other students from the United States. They told her to shut up and said they did not want to hear it. Neither did I.

Sadly, this Terry person (yes, the real name is Terry, different surname of course) majored in education. I feel bad for any student of Terry’s. No wonder we have some awful teachers in the school system.

When I got home from Italy, I told my family about the abuse I endured from her and her cousin, with whom I was forced to room. Since I did not grow up in a supportive family, they invalidated me by acting like it was no big deal. My feelings are valid.

To help process the trauma from repeated verbal abuse by Terry and the cousin, and the gaslighting I faed when i went home, I created my character Terry Reynolds. I will discuss the cousin in a separate entry.

Taking your road test is nerve-wracking enough. Imagine living in a small city where the sole proctor is a malignant narcissist, taking joy in seeing people fail. Meet the inspiration for Scary Barry Reynolds.

Barry (again, real first name) loved telling students “YOU FAILED” in a stoic tone, with a hint of an evil grin.

Imagine greeting your proctor as you enter the car “Hi Barry” only to be screamed at, likely out of fear “How do you know my name?” And then told “I. Don’t. Like. That.”

Barry may look like Leon Kowalski from Blade Runner, and act like him. It goes without saying he would fail any empathy test. Maybe I should run the V-K Test on him and watch him fail. I just won’t ask him about his mother.

After failing my road test five times with Barry, I passed my test when I took it in another city and of course a different proctor. I had called his supervisor, per advice of my driving instructor, who failed to address the problem, saying “he makes his quota.” Yes, some doctors graduate at the bottom of their class. What do you call them? Yeah, a doctor. .

And now we get to learn about the psychic attack crap. Back in 2001 (No not 1991, sorry Greg Snyder), I received this junk mail:

When I first got the spam, I thought it was for EarthBound cheat codes. Think again.

These morons tried to sell a psychic attack self-defense e-book. The spammer only accepted a check mailed to them, and then they promised to email you the electronic book after they got your check. Yeah, sounds legit.

The email was so funny, I had to save it, and use it for something.

Around the time I got the Defense Against Psychic Attack spamvertisement, I spent a lot of time on message boards chatting about metaphysics. Fans of Dragonball Z asked how to make “PSI Balls” and some even made videos pretending to “psychic attack” people using them. I thought the whole darned thing was so funny, it needed to prompt a story idea. Most of my ideas sat dormant in a different series, which I merged into MoronicArts.

Behind the Moroniverse – Character Theme Songs

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.

Sybil Kibble

Robbie Hurlbutt

Damien Hurlbutt

Wally Green

Konrad Teirant

Bern Cacca