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Character Analysis: TK from Typical Strange

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 25, 2023

Ok so here we are! Let’s get down into the weeds with Typical Strange’s TK!

…did that come out wrong? I’m sure TK would have a thing or two to say.

So, first things first. Typical Strange is the lovely creation of Banes. It’s a comedy comic that in my opinion can be described as “Friends meets Scooby-Do” and I’ll explain:

We got a standard cast of friends/colleagues who all work at the same VHS/DVD movie-rental shop. Shenanigans happen, and these friends end up in zany situations, from cloak-and-dagger, spy-and-cop throwdowns to illegal fight joints and low-tier mafia boss trouble. It’s all great fun, with a lot of the jokes coming from the dialogue and the bizarre situations. The cast are all friends, with distinct personalities, wants, dreams, and tribulations. They bounce off each other as they are forced to co-exist in the same place (the rental shop), deny being friends sometimes, but in the end behave as a more or less cohesive in-group that looks out for each other.

The focus of today’s character analysis is TK, one of the employees of the movie rental shop. Let’s start with the basics!

Basic Character Design

TK is approaching middle age. He has a receding hairline but lush blond hair otherwise. He wears glasses and is cleanshaven (except that little period of the unfortunate mustache). He is a movie buff, loves music, plays music, and probably has a visceral hate of jazz, or at least a certain nemesis who plays jazz and constantly attacks his music and his person in general.

He is Penelope’s older brother, and by her own testament, has been her support, protector and point of reference most of her life. TK’s and Penelope’s parents are divorced and sounds like they are very ‘laissez faire’ in their parenting of both siblings. Penelope is gigantic in size and very strong, while TK is average so let’s keep that in mind for a sec.

TK has had “many partners” in the past, including one that was toxic enough to try and separate him from his sister, hide things from him, manipulate and gaslight him, and generally control his life. Let’s keep that in mind too! They break up “off camera” and TK classes her “the bad kind of freak”.

Personality wise, TK is acerbic and judgmental. He enjoys criticizing others and takes pleasure in seeing them flustered or riled up at what he tells them. This is his main “flavor” if you like, in the constellation of the video rental friends/employees.

Now, because of the genre and style of Typical Strange, I consider a lot of the behavioral patterns to be exaggerated to fit the larger-than-life adventures these characters go on. However, for the psych scan I will take the behavioral patterns at face value, just as exaggerated versions of what we’d encounter in real life.

TK’s psych scan

Like I already mentioned, TK loves putting down others- especially Abigail. Abigail happens to be the woman who manages the video store, so she’s technically outranking him and able to control him. Something that TK really doesn’t want to happen to him. “I will not be controlled” seems to be a solid motivator for him.

So, what does it mean to belittle others? It’s a form of bullying. Usually, it comes from a place of insecurity and a need to feel superior. Feeling better by comparison, in the sense that TK cheers up when he feels that others are worse off than him, may be an indicator that he suffers from low self-esteem. It also is a strong indicator that he has suffered trauma and has been the target of bullying himself- and that is true!

In the comic, we know for sure that he has survived at least one toxic relationship. People like Greta, TK’s ex-girlfriend who isolated him from his sister through deception was a textbook manipulator. It’s certain that she abused her relationship with TK and did her best to control him. Manipulation, gaslighting, and enforced isolation is serious abuse, even if we assume there was never verbal abuse or physical abuse (which is unlikely, as manipulators will verbally abuse their partners in a variety of ways).

It’s only a logical reaction that TK is so adamant about not being controlled, and why he reacts so badly to Abigail when she delegates tasks or signs him up to do things without prior consent. He is still handling trauma. It’s also safe to assume that he gets no professional help in healing from it, which is bound to lead to this trauma manifesting in dysfunctional behaviors like TK’s verbal abuse of others.

Why am I saying that this behavioral pattern is a sign of trauma and not, say, a personality disorder or ‘bad trait’?

Because he has demonstrated that he doesn’t behave that way in certain contexts that ‘hit harder’, i.e. can hurt the other characters on a deeper level than his usual scathing tongue-lashings. For example, when Oscar gets ridiculed in front of many people by his ‘hot mean girl’ date, others laugh but TK doesn’t. He never teases or goads Oscar with this event, either. An event that we see hurts Oscar deeply (and is sort-of-fixed by how the ‘hot mean girl’ apologizes to him after he’s 100% a gentleman with her in her most vulnerable).

He also doesn’t verbally attack or abuse his sister even when he thinks she has destroyed things he really cherishes, like his new guitar. When he is seriously angry with her, he leaves the room.

So this tells me that while he does get some superficial reassurance of when he puts people down, it’s not in his character to tear them down and carry out abuse to that level. It tells me that this is a dysfunctional defense mechanism that is probably never going to win him new friends, but his current ones have accepted it as part of his scripts and they roll with it- or attack him and get it out of their systems.

I’m still not going to let that go though, and go further and say that I’d explore whether TK has some signs of depression. He may not fulfill all the requirements for a diagnosis of depression, but he certainly has enough that would at least alert me as him being a person in high risk for it or at least dysthymia:

* he has bursts of anger
* has irritability and intolerance
* he has feelings of worthlessness
* he sounds like he has anhedonia or finds most activities pointless or lacking joy. HOWEVER, if he never had interest in such things, this may not be a symptom.
* sounds like he tends to isolate and not seek out new friends (though this is also part of the story’s format, it’s not exactly restrictive, so it counts)

I’m going to wrap up this psych scan on a positive note, saying that TK is a responsible guy, if not in his tasks at the video store, in terms of being a big brother to Penelope. He is there to protect her from hurt, and always has been. Though Penelope looks intimidating and tough, and is great at fighting, she needs him and he’s there for her. There’s no antagonism or troubling elements in their relationship, which they both work on constructively!

2D vs 3D

I think that surprisingly, considering the format and genre of Typical Strange TK is remarkably complex!

On a 2D level, TK’s reactivity and irritability coupled with his acerbic style is excellent fodder for comedy. It also can work as a plot device for shenanigans (and it does!) which spiral out of control and pull everyone in.

On a 3D level, TK and his struggle with trauma, especially his experience with Greta and the whole separation from Penelope in the way it happened (no I won’t explain it, go read it!) would make for great drama. Drama embraces comedy so that’s not a surprise either! The way TK impacts his friends, and how they also interact with him can be used to bring him out of trauma without necessarily curbing his acerbic style. It could, however, turn it to less toxic verbal interactions with his friends if he stops feeling the need to put them down to cheer up and if he stops having anxiety when something triggers his fear of being controlled!

Environmental cues

TK’s issues are totally environmentally induced- he has had to deal with people like Greta, and probably has had more interaction that taught him not to trust people with his boundaries. Being protective of Penelope and given her size and strength, he’s bound to have had to deal with bullies and other types of attackers while she was growing up.

We all act according to our learning history, and TK is no different!

Well done Banes for creating such an interesting character while still having him become attached to a tiny cop that abuses him with drugs and take getting pranked like a champ! (Yes, go read Typical Strange, it’s a hoot!)

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Ozoneocean at 6:03AM, March 27, 2023

OMG TK looks like me when he was younger

Jason Moon at 11:42AM, March 26, 2023

Love me some Typical Strange <3

HawkandFloAdventures at 7:18AM, March 26, 2023

Amazing character showcase for one of the Duck's Legacy comics great stuff! ^^;

Banes at 10:29AM, March 25, 2023

Absolutely incredible, Tantz - I'm completely blown away. I'm going to read this multiple times and plenty of this stuff is going to reflect on TK in the future of the comic. I agreed with so much of what you said and there are deeper insights here than I ever considered, like his bullying, trauma and risk of depression. Thank you so much for doing this; it's phenomenal!

Andreas_Helixfinger at 7:51AM, March 25, 2023

Excellent analysis👍👍👍

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