Daily Grind - Our Main Cast

     Howlett Creager is the owner and sole proprietor of Daily Grind, a "general assistance service," as he calls it: sort of a combination detective and temp. agency dedicated to helping people get back up when the daily grind of their lives is getting them down.

     We get a little into Howlett's past in our fifth storyline, "-30-", so all I'll say here is that he moved to Gadsden, the major metropolitan center along the west coast of Porphyriya, five years ago and opened Daily Grind in a gentrifying section of downtown. The strange new company's reputation quickly spread, and by the time we check in with them on page 1 of the introduction, Daily Grind has become firmly established in the public's mind as a place where just about anyone can go for help. The local police remain a bit skeptical, however, but Howlett's humble good nature goes a long way toward putting most people at their ease. He's in his mid-20s when the story starts, a snake with a dream that he's doing his darndest to make come true.

     But the real mystery about Howlett--how does he tie that necktie??--took almost a year to answer...

     Jolene does have a last name, but she never uses it--even Howlett doesn't know what it is, though you can find it in these pages if you look. She was born with a chemical imbalance in her brain that gave her a hair-trigger temper and a preference toward solving all conflict with a scream and a leap, claws and teeth bared. This drove her from home at an early age and into a life of violent crime--we get some ideas about that in "Pocketful of Dreams," our seventh storyline--before she met Howlett four years previous to page 1 of the introduction and began taking the pills Doc designed for her.

     She was the first employee Howlett hired at Daily Grind, and she's come to consider herself its co-proprietor, arguing with Howlett about "company policy" and even threatening to fire him on occasion--even though he's not only her boss but her legal guardian and de facto parole officer. She wants desperately to keep to the straight and narrow, but Doc's treatments have the side-effect of making her less able to use the physical skills she picked up during her 12 years living and fighting on the streets. This leads her sometimes to cut back on her meds so she can tap into the dark core that still smolders inside her, but this tends to have unfortunate consequences...

     Jolene is very strong, very fast--even for a squirrel--and very uncertain about just about everything in her life at this point other than Daily Grind. About that and the good work she does there, she has no doubts at all. She's the focus of the first Daily Grind storyline, "The Crossing Guard."

     Dr. Everard Chalko was an up-and-coming endocrinologist when he was hired to fill a prestigious post at Gadsden's St. Regis Hospital. He quickly made a name for himself as the "go to guy" in cases no one else could figure out, and his future seemed assured.

     Then he got caught up in efforts to broker a truce between several of Gadsden's rival feline and rodent street gangs, efforts which ended when Doc was shot three times in the lower jaw, the bone shattering and mangling his tongue to such an extent that reconstruction was simply impossible. No longer able to speak, Doc descended into despair, losing his job, his home, and nearly his life prior to meeting Howlett about four years before page 1 of the introduction and hiring on with Daily Grind.

     Doc's still fairly bitter, but over the past four years, he's begun emerging from the depths of his own moods. He's in his mid-30s, and he's at the center of our second story, "A Tooth for a Tooth" at the end of which he picks up the speech synthesizer that he uses from that point onward. That's also the storyline where he met Alice--see further down the page for more on her--and she's contributed a very great deal to Doc's coming to grips with his life.

     Contance Euryatep was hatched into a life of luxury on Gadsden's west side, her grandparents coming to prominence as two of the small number of insectoids who chose the mammalian side during the Great War 50 years ago. She married Reginald Teasdale, son of another well-to-do local family of barbed moths, and wanted nothing more than to carry on in the social whirl that was her life.

     This all changed--as we see in "Chrysalis," our third story--and Mrs. Teasdale ended up repudiating her family, striking out on her own, and doing her best to lose herself in Gadsden's poorest quarters. She plowed her personal fortune into 15 run-down halfway houses around the city and renovated them to form Chrysalis House, an organization dedicated to education, health care, and social service. It was there that she met Howlett and became interested in his work; she hired on as a Daily Grind employee two years before page 1 of the introduction and has only occasionally regretted her decision.

     Mrs. Teasdale can be more than a little stuffy and more than a little obnoxious, but she's smart, tough, and that little barb at the end of her abdomen can inject a paralyzing neurotoxin--not that she considers it particularly sporting to use that particular "form of argument," as she puts it...

     Few people can call D.F. Tharka "Darius" and live, and even those few tend to mispronounce it.

     Tharka spends most of his time running "D F & A Investigations" with his partner, A. Gana Belea--more about whom you can read further down this page--and was already a local legend before joining Daily Grind: Hearts and Minds is one of Tharka and Gana's pre-Daily Grind adventures, if you'd like to take a look at that. A wide variety of true and not-so-true stories circulate about Tharka, most of them tied to where he got the nickname "The Devil Bunny," and we gave his rather-extensive past a run-through in our fourth storyline, "Dust Bunny" as well as our eleventh storyline, "The Apprentice."

     Tharka is honest--some might say brutally so--and seems to be prepared for anything at all times--more often than not in a coldly calculating sort of way. He's trying very hard to be warmer and more empathetic, and he feels that his work with Daily Grind can only help. He won't give his age, and there does seem to be some evidence that he fought during the Great War, though that would make him at least 70 now, and he sure looks too spry to me for that to be the case...

Our Supporting Cast

     Alice Bryson has worked as a reporter for the Gadsden Gazette since graduating from Pallestra University with a degree in history. Her love of research gives her reporting a solid foundation that few of her peers seem able to match.

     She lives in a two-room apartment a block and a half from her parents' brownstone and still has dinner with them most Sundays. She's never really had time for dating, but after walking into Doc's life in search of information for a story, she's found herself more and more attracted to him.

     Onorefe D'Aviota was abandoned as a youngster at the Chrysalis House in downtown Gadsden but quickly made himself useful helping out around the place. He spent several years living and working at all 15 of the Chrysalis House locations and was actually the first to bring Daily Grind to Mrs. Teasdale's attention.

     Rafe has been working part-time at Daily Grind for three years now, taking care of the shop while the others are off on assignments. His name is mentioned in one of the earliest strips, but he doesn't actually make his first appearence till the middle of the second storyline.

     A. Gana Belea is a southern housefly who came to Gadsden to follow her dream of becoming a private investigator. She set up shop and quickly gained a reputation as someone smart, tenacious, and scrupulously honest. She met and went into business with Tharka several years ago, and the two of them formed "D F & A Investigations."

     Tharka maintains that Gana saved both his life and his soul when she took him in, and it was actually at her urging that he joined Daily Grind. For her part, Gana's more than happy to help him along the road to changing his ways, and the two of them have become much more than business partners. She's a featured player in the pre-Daily Grind story "Hearts and Minds," but her first appearence in the comic's actual continuity comes at the beginning of our fourth storyline.

     Sair Melchior is a priest of the Seven Winds, the most widespread of the serpent religions. Alice first met him near the end of our fifth storyline when she was researching an article on Howlett's past, and he reappeared during the eleventh storyline to help Tharka work through some issues from his past.

     Among Melchior's own issues are his pride and his fear, both of which he continues to work on with the help of the Winds. And judging by the changes in his speech patterns, he also apparently spent some time working on his diction between his first appearance and his second...

     The first of the Fair Folk we actually meet in these stories, Toch of House Kreelnyik is one of the original Fae, created by Cyrios soon after the universe began. He is therefore a little set in his ways and is very certain that those ways are correct.

     So he was extremely upset when his sister agreed to marry the upstart Norrin of House Sathmont and become Titania to his Oberon, a move that steered the course of Fae policy in direction Toch disapproved of. He's been lurking around the edges of things ever since, trying to find a way to take control.

     Alban of House Sathmont, Prince Under Hill and Heir Eternal to the Realms of Twilight, showed up during our eighth storyline and played quite a large part in the goings-on. He returned at the beginning of our twelfth storyline and was every bit as involved there, too.

     Young by the standards of the Fair Folk--not more than five or six centuries old--Alban can display more than a little naivete, but long attendance in the courts of the Twilight Realms have taught him how to employ both decisiveness and guile when necessary. He seems to have a little crush on Mrs. Teasdale, too....

     Adopted as a baby and raised by members of the Sons of the Black Swan, Steven has never known his true parents, his true name, or even his actual age. He did, however, become very, very proficient in the various martial arts the Sons taught him, and he rose through their ranks to become their head of security before what they called his twentieth birthday.

     He first speaks in the comic near the beginning of our tenth storyline and is featured quite prominently thereafter; he then takes a little time off to pursue some projects of his own before reappearing in the middle of the twelfth storyline. He is also inspired almost entirely by the main character in the "ninja death" comics Mike Stevens does regularly as his part of the Daily Grind Contest.

     Doseh Kallat grew up with Howlett on the Clay Hills serpent reservation and was one of Howlett's only friends there. Very interested in the world outside the reservation, Doseh is nevertheless a staunch believer in ancient sherpesh traditions and customs. This led to him taking the position as docent of the Clay Hills Visitor Center, and his sharp tongue has kept him there, a part of the community but also more than a bit of an outsider.

     Doseh is the first serpent other than Howlett that we met in the comic, all the way back near the end of "-30-," our fifth storyline. He showed up again at the beginning of the fifteenth storyline, "Shifting Sands" and also played a supporting role in the middle of "Signing the Senses.

     Dr. Mortimer Gray barely graduated in the top half of his class at St. Regis Medical College, but his talents for organization and politics allowed him to rise quickly in the bureaucracy of the hospital's administrative staff. He was, in fact, the member of the hospital board assigned to fire Doc Chalko in the aftermath of Doc's injuries four years ago, and he and Doc haven't seen eye-to-eye since.

     Gray made a brief appearance near the end of the second storyline, "A Tooth for a Tooth," then played major roles in both the thirteenth storyline, "Tools of the Trade" and the eighteenth, "Administrative Oversight." I stole his name from a character in a series of science fiction stories by Brian Stableford.

     Sair Pilar is another priest of the Seven Winds, but she, as opposed to Sair Melchior, comes from a distinguished and well-to-do family, a family that's been providing priests and politicians to the sherpesh since before they were forced onto the reservations. She's a bit on the sullen side and tends to view her duties as a sair more from a political than a religious point of view.

     She first shows up near the beginning of "Shifting Sands," our fifteenth storyline and is a major player in story number nineteen, "Signing the Senses."

     Moira Senteague was born in Clay Hills, the first daughter in the Senteague family in five generations. She went into the family haberdashery business and has done quite well as a designer of ladies' hats despite--or maybe because of--her youth, her good humor, and her bright disposition.

     We first met her near the middle of "Shifting Sands," and the questions raised by her birth eigthteen years ago became a major part of that storyline's plot. She shows up again in "Signing the Senses" and plays every bit as integral a part in that plot as she did in her first appearance.

     Eduard Varese was born with a talent for magic, such a rare thing in these modern times that he grew up never knowing he had any potential at all. It wasn't until an exhibit at the Gadsden History museum awoke in his presence and began speaking to him that his destiny caught up with him.

     Eduard instigates our sixteenth storyline, "Toil and Trouble," then plays a major role in story number eighteen, "Administrative Oversight." And I've got a feeling we haven't seen the last of him, either.

     Agrippina of House Sathmont, Princess Under Hill, is essentially second-in-line to the Amethyst Throne after her brother Alban, and she doesn't enjoy the position at all. Head-strong and independent, she's tried to kill Alban several times over the last few centuries but has never succeeded. Still, she feels she must keep trying since she is--in her own estimation, at least--much more qualified to rule the Twilight Realms than Alban is.

     She came bursting into things in the middle of "Holiday," our twelfth storyline, though Alban mentions her a few times before this, and she shows up again near the end of that same story before returning with a vengeance to drive the action of storylines #19, "Signing the Senses," and #21, "Animus." As with all the other Fae characters, she is heavily involved in storyline #24, "A Long, Long Trail A-Winding," too.

     Montgomery Tarr is a member of the Gadsden City Council and a friend of Mrs. Teasdale's from way back. He comes from "old money" the same as she does, and since he also shares her social conscience, he's one of the few high society types who kept in contact with her after she disowned her parents.

     A bull elephant by nature, he was one of the driving forces behind "Holiday," our twelfth storyline, first getting mentioned right near the beginning, and greeting our main cast when they arrive at his house where most of the story's action takes place. His second appearance is right at the beginning of "Hypocrisy," our twentieth storyline.

     Eulatti probably shouldn't be considered a Prince Under Hill anymore since he faked his own death three centuries ago in order to escape the immorality that he feels has taken root in the Fae Royal Households. The youngest child of the current Oberon and Titania, he seems to have discovered an entirely new form of magical energy, no longer glowing blue as the other Fae do and vibrating at a pitch most Fae find very disagreeable. He's been hiding out among the treasures held by the Sons of the Black Swan since leaving the Fae and considers himself to be "on holiday."

     That's the holiday that gives our twelfth storyline its name, actually, and Eulatti first shows up as himself about halfway through that storyline. He next appears in storyline #20, "Hypocrisy," and has branched out into a much wider role in the cosmos as a whole since the events of storyline #24, "A Long, Long Trail A-Winding."

     The being who calls herself Madame Lucia is actually the Nulla Lucis--"She Who Has Nothing of Light"--one of the primary monsters of ancient Fae history and mythology. Said to have been among the first Fae when Lord Cyrios created the heavens and the Earth, she rebelled against the strictures inherent in Fae physiology and tried to guide Creation in a path of her own devising. She was stopped, exiled from the Fae community, and quickly vanished into the mists of legend.

     But then Howlett and the others ran afoul of her during storyline #18, "Administrative Oversight," and had to deal with her and her machinations throughout the entirety of Book IV, Till There was You.

     Coil is what the Fae call an ambulant repository, a being designed to be a storage unit for power: a golem made out of magical jellied spiderweb, if you will.

     Most repositories are temporary creatures given no more intelligence than they need to follow simple instructions, but Coil was made by the Nulla Lucis with special instructions and restrictions because of the role she needed him to play in her master plan. He first appears in storyline #20, "Hypocrisy," and has since become quite the regular character with supporting parts in nearly every story since.

     The two varieties of Fae have many differences between them, but one of the largest has to do with the way they're hatched. Household Fae--like Alban, Agrippina, and Eulatti--do all their growing while still in the egg sack and emerge at their adult sizes. Airborne Fae--like the Princesses here--are born tiny and skittering and grow larger as they age.

     The nine current Princesses of the Airborne Fae are Postuma, Drusilla, Junia, Onyx, Beryl, Sapphire, Lily, Jasmine, and Hyacinth. They first came into things in storyline #24, "A Long, Long Trail A-Winding," and have been popping in here and there ever since.

     Even before the city of Gadsden was called the city of Gadsden, homeless orphan children lived in its shadows. These children developed a complex mythology full of ghosts and monsters that shared the streets with them, and one of the main figures was a dark and magical protector they called Dodger.

     Jo actually met Dodger several times during her years on the streets, and he appears to her again near the beginning of storyline #26, "Artifacts" before becoming a semi-regular in these stories.

     In 1619, almost four hundred years before our stories start, the nascent world-wide dictatorship run by the wizards in the city of Remees was destroyed by an international army, and during the bloodbath, most of the world's understanding of magic vanished. A group of sorcerers who hadn't joined their fellows in Remees survived, however, and taking the name The Eyes of the World, they appointed themselves the world's mystical guardians, especially vowing to keep the Fae from exercising any undue influence in mortal affairs.

     By 2005, the year our stories start, due to a variety of factors, only 8 members remain in the Eyes of the World, and the gruesome deaths of two of these wizards entangle the group with Daily Grind. The dysfunctional relationships between the other 6 members, including Norma Galverson, the group's leader, her son Gregory, her apprentice Cinnamon TreLayk and the one-eyed, one-armed sorcerer Claude Remler, form the core of Daily Grind's sixth book, The Eyes of the World, encompasing storylines #31 through 36--though Gregory, under his pseudonym of Rustle, first appeared near the middle of the 30th storyline, "The Way of All Flesh."

     More characters will be added here as circumstances dictate, but for now, well, the Daily Grind Main page lies but a mouse click away.