Who’s that Girl?

A brief look at the what & why of Penny Dreadful

I joked yesterday in a comment reply that I’d love to see a treatise written on Penny’s personality someday. Yes, I know how ridiculous an idea that is. But that made me think: I know who she is (at least purportedly), but does the strip convey that properly? So, in an open call for comment, here is the low-down on how I arrived at Penny’s character in the years leading up to the strip. I’ll leave it to my readers to judge the strip’s success in conveying it.

  • Penny was intended to be disadvantaged in several areas.
    • Penny’s a girl.
      • In corporate America – well, not just there – women generally are disadvantaged.
      • Younger folk are as well. As a teenage girl, Penny starts out on the downside of both.
    • Penny’s a nerdy girl.
      • Let’s face it – going against stereotypes is a pre-requisite, right?
      • I know, there are LOTS of nerdy girls these days. But that doesn’t make it the social norm.
    • Penny’s an expatriate.
      • Having been an expatriate (in Japan), I’m well acquainted with the obstacles this engenders. Yet, I didn’t want to struggle with foreign-language related difficulties with the character, so Penny has been a Brit for the last several rev’s.
      • Further, Penny doesn’t appear to have any familial support framework. We don’t even know if she’s got family. Well, I know, but I’m not saying. 😉
    • Penny’s a ginger.
      • One negative stereotype I’ve never understood is the British prejudice against red-headedness. But, I’m not above using it.
      • Also, gingers are often portrayed as having a fiery temper and a bristly demeanor, which kinda fits Penny, I think.
    • Penny’s a Scouser.
      • I’ve read a fair bit that suggests the Englishman at large views the Scouse accent as low-brow and undesirable, much like we yanks often generalize the “deep southern” accent in the US. (Personally, I love the sound of the Scouse accent. But then, I’m married to a Southerner…)
      • Further, I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that the Liverpool area is economically depressed in comparison to other areas in England.
  • Despite all this, Penny still comes out on top. That’s the intent, anyway.
  • Penny’s not a nice person. In fact, she’s pretty hateful.
    • Johnny is the embodiment of all that’s good within Penny. And it ain’t much.
    • I suspect that’s why he’s such a lightweight little guy, and also why we can see through him.
  • Yet, somehow, we still like her. This is probably largely due to the fact that she gets to act in ways we often wish we could…
  • Penny has a soft spot for the disadvantaged.
    • I have to say, this one surprised me. That sounds weird, I know. But, I’ve noticed in her treatment of the Bobs that she’s almost never abusive of them as she is many of her other co-workers.
    • Maybe it’s because I ended up liking the Bobs and have never treated them in the way the original strip concept planned for me to do. But I think it’s indicative of something in Penny’s true nature.

So, whaddya think – is that Penny? Or has the strip totally misrepresented her?

Ma Vie en Brick

A self-portrait atop my desk

Goofing around a bit while rendering the latest batch of strips… Not to be outdone by my super-ego’s analysis of Penny, my id & ego teamed up on a self-portrait minifig diorama. It’s kinda like all the various aspects of me!

Ma Vie en Brick