(x, why?) by Christopher J. Burke
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(x, why?) Cast of Characters

Once upon a time, a math teacher had a crazy idea to put a comic on my classroom blog to see how his students responded. He imagined it as a joke-a-day strip, just not every day. And he didn't think he'd resort to reusing characters. In fact, because he didn't think he'd do this for very long, he didn't even think to name his characters.

Well that had to change. Especially as the cast not only grew in size, but in diversity and complexity. Originally, there were humans and talking numbers, a situation similar to early Sesame Street episodes, which the author watched first-run. Then came the shapes and graphs and robots and everything else.

(The lack of character names is serlf-referentially mocked at times, such as Comic #1459: Tryouts.)

As can be seen in the comic at the bottom of the page, Heads of 1,001 (x, why?) Comics, many characters have appeared in the first dozen years.


The teaching staff of the unnamed high school (or 6-12 school?) became the first be used in heavy rotation, and would later become the focal point for any long story lines.

Mike Keegan first appeared in Comic #006: The Day After an Abbott & Costello Marathon. He was first named as Michael in Comic #104: Summer Time. And he is referred to as Mr. Keegan by Shawn in Comic #769: Average. He's usually seen in his trademark yellow shirt and blue pants. Loosely based on the author, sometimes acting as his avatar. He thinks math most of the time. Mike is married with two kids. He's addicted to coffee. (Oddly, the author was more of a tea drinker back then, but converted.)

Mike's complexion was added in Comic #103 with the blank white didn't work with all the colors, after a bad attempt in Comic #071 which left him looking jaundiced on some monitors.

Mike was put "in excess" (ie, eliminated his position in the school, but not fired from his city job) in Comic #697: Kiss Today Goodbye, and worked for a while at a different school. He returned to his old school for summer school, and was brought back full time in Comic #917: A Hand Up.

Trivia: The name Keegan came from Keeg, which is geek backward. Seriously.

Kenneth Wayne first appeared in Comic #010: Natural Hair Color, subtitled "Hallway Math Conferences". He's seen wearing his trademark striped blue shirt. He was first named in Comic #086, where he is referred to by Michele as Kenny, and by an unseen student as Mr. Wayne.
Ken is more the sarcastic one, making Mike the straight man at times. It is revealed that he is dating Michele Roberts Wayne in Comic #104: Summer Time. Ken and Michele were engaged in Comic #1161: Happy New Year 2017: Dependent Events. The two are married in Comic #1348 The Long-Put-Off-but-Necessary-for-Continuity (x, why?) Comic with Bonus Venn Diagram.
Ken's complexion was added in Comic #103.
Ken also does his own webcomic within the webcomic called "Ken-Do".
Ken has a brother named Bob (not Bruce). Another male relative (possibly a younger brother or nephew) was in his wedding party.
Anne Moore first appeared in Comic #010: Natural Hair Color, subtitled "Hallway Math Conferences". Her first name was given in Comic #555. While the author was hesitant to use a punny name, like "Annie Graham" or "Annie Where", Annie Moore was actually the name of the first woman to pass through Ellis Island. Annie is thin and shrank in height after her initial appearances. Annie is dating science teacher Scott Montgomery. They were first shown holding hands and planning a future in Comic #740.
Barbara Graham first appeared in Comic #010: Natural Hair Color, subtitled "Hallway Math Conferences". She was originally the shorter of the two female math teachers and possibly based on a non-math teacher in real life (no reference available). Her first name was mentioned in (reference needed).
Her last name was given in (Comic #1512, or sooner). She was named for fellow teacher, twitter friend, and all-around nice person Kory Graham, who also once bought me gelato at a difficult time. While Kory is blonde, I really wanted to avoid having a math teacher named "Annie Graham", so it became Barbara's surname instead.

Barbara is left-handed, which is being mentioned here so it isn't forgotten.

Mary Michele Roberts Wayne first appeared in Comic #035: Another Hallway Conference. Originally a throwaway character, it wasn't even established that she was an English teacher until Comic #104: Summer Time, when her given name was revealed. Suddenly, she was dating Ken, and she pole-vaulted over the other teachers into the number 3 position. Michele is spelled only one L, which could be because it was a nice variation, or because she is named for someone, but in reality, it's because two L's didn't fit. Seriously.
It is revealed that Michele's first name is actually Mary in Comic #107: A Classic Lady. Her last name is stated in (reference needed). She and Ken were engaged in Comic #1161: Happy New Year 2017: Dependent Events. Finally, she married Ken in Comic #1348 The Long-Put-Off-but-Necessary-for-Continuity (x, why?) Comic with Bonus Venn Diagram.
So she's Mary Michele "Shelley" Roberts Wayne. Only Ken calls her "Shelley".
Michele has a sister who was in her wedding party.
Judy ??? first appeared in Comic #035: Another Hallway Conference. Originally a throwaway character, she was later established to be an English teacher (reference needed) like her colleague and best friend, Michele. Judy is dating Chuck as of Comic #156: Just Common Sense, although at that point no character named Chuck had appeared. (Word of Creator: it was known at the time who "Chuck" was going to be.) She is shown with Chuck on the beach in Comic #321, although only see Judy from behind.
Judy and Chuck are engaged to be married (Comic #1429: Engagement and Discussion). While the wedding will likely happen offscreen, it just as likely has been postponed because of real-world issues interfering with the comic world.
Quinn Jonas first appeared in Comic #331: Substitution. He was a math sub who showed up when Ken "mysteriously disappeared". Ken was actually on jury duty and later returned. Quinn has shown up from time to time as a sub at the central school as well at other schools around the city.
Quinn was obviously named for the Stargate: SG-1 character who temporarily replaced Daniel Jackson. Jonas brother jokes were planned but never happened.
Quinn's biggest story line was the extra long April Fools prank of 2019.
Scott Montgomery first appeared in Comic #381: Speed Limit II. He's a young Science teacher. He was referred to in Comic #388: Recharge as a "Teacher of Tomorrow", which is the name of a program for new teachers. His first name was first mention in (reference needed), and his last in (reference needed). He and Ken are somewhat antagonistic toward each other for unknown reasons (likely through escalated sarcasm).
It was revealed he was dating Annie. They were first shown holding hands and planning a future in Comic #740.
As with Jonas Quinn, his name is the reverse of a sci-fi reference.
Mr. Ibsen first appeared as an actual character in Comic #516: Star Teachers. The back of a similar looking teacher appeared two years earlier. He was designated a history teacher in his first appearance. His name was first mentioned by Sven in Comic #807: Gross.
He hasn't had a lot of interaction with the other characters.
Mrs. Luz is a Science teacher who first appeared in Comic #1231: Back to School where she is welcomed to the school. She is named in Comic #1235: New Science Teacher.
Mrs. Luz is shorter than Annie. She hasn't been used much.
Student Teacher/Teaching Assistant first appeared in Comic #1243: Ten Years! She was originally one of the First Batch of students in the comic. She grew up despite no one else in the comic aging in those ten years.

Other School Personnel

Asst. Principal Dexter Locke first appeared, in a joking manner, in Comic #516: Star Teachers. His first real appearance was in Comic #693: End-of-Year Review. He tends to dress in military garb, complete with cloak attached on the left shoulder, and has an unexplained bluish complexion.
He butts heads with members of the Math Dept at times. He put Mike Keegan "in excess" (ie, eliminated his position in the school, but didn't fire him from his city job), before hiring him back at a much later date.


Can teachers be teachers without students? The perplexing question early on was how to draw them. And what age are they supposed to be. It would seem that the majority of students shown are likely continual high school freshmen, or possibly sophomores. Others seem like they might be middle schoolers. Few seem to be almost-adults.

The first batch appeared in Comic #006: The Day After an Abbott & Costello Marathon. The redhead would grew up (breaking the "time stasis") and become Michele Roberts Wayne's student teacher. The brunette was the only one with a name, referred to as "Miss Bradley", and was later referred to as an English major (Comic #026). She was the original choice for the student teacher character, but the "mini me" (another redhead) was too good to pass up.
Hal (or more likely his father) appeared in Comic #306: Bro. Steve, where he is a classmate of high school aged Mike Keegan.
He became the new look of student characters. Although he was the first of the "Core Four" to appear, he was the last one to have his name mentioned (reference needed).
He started "hanging out" with Daisy (reference needed), and their friendship has progressed over time.
Shaun first appeared in Comic #402: Oblivious or Illiterate? He's the de facto leader of the Core Four students. His name was revealed in Comic #1474. His best friend is Hal.
After a couple of false starts (Comic #1434), he worked up the nerve to talk to (sing to) Isabel (Comic #1438), as he was the last of the bunch with a girlfriend (or girl friend). They had hugged for the first time right before the pandemic hit, which intefered with the year's story lines.
Shaun was accidentally referred to as "Shawn" at times.
Vaughn first appeared in Comic #495: Summer School Math, and became one of the Core Four students. He was first named in 767: +1 ("Plus One"). Vaughn has been attracted to Missy since her first appearance (reference needed). It was some time before she reciprocated. Vaughn was in Mr. Keegan's class for summer school, but Mr. Wayne's class in the fall.
Sven first appeared in Comic #495: Summer School Math, and became one of the Core Four students. He was first named in Comic #1342 School Life #4. Sven was the last one to discover that Vanessa liked him, not even knowing who she was at the time. The term "Svenessa" has not been used ... yet, but played a part in picking the names of the two characters.
Melissa, aka "Missy" first appeared in Comic #1120: Polygon Gone! She was first called "Missy" in Comic #1132: What I Did on Summer Vacation, where she was shown to have a summer job on the boardwalk. She's called "Melissa" in Comic #1300: Boyfriend.
She allowed Vaughn to follow her around and carry her books for a while before realizing she had a boyfriend.
She's a bit taller than the boys, which couldn't be helped.
Vanessa first appeared in the background in Comic #1301: A Day in the Life of a Sub. Her name was first mentioned in Comic #1342 School Life #4.


Daisy first appeared in Comic #1335: Complete the Squares and Circles, and her name was given in Comic #1336. She generally avoids eye contact, and says what she means.

She's good friends with Hal, with whom she plays videogames. She has also made eye contact with Hal, and the two have briefly held hands (both were wearing plastic gloves at the time).

Daisy is usually seen wearing a hoodie with daisies on it, as she is fond of them.

Trivia: "Daisy" was originally intended to be a nickname. (She was named for a former student with a "floral" name.) However, part of her personality comes from another person named Skye. Originally, the idea was to use both names. However, this would've looked like intentionally ripping off a superhero TV program. Where I don't have a problem with rummaging through pop culture, mining material, that wasn't what this was supposed to be. It would've been a distraction.

Hank and Anthony first appeared in Comic #332: Ordinal and Cardinal. There was some confusion as to their names, as one student was called by both names. Teachers get confused sometimes.
These guys were another attempt for a new look for the students. They appear to be middle schoolers, although their school topics might be a little advanced sometimes.
They've had Ms. Moore, Ms. Graham, Mrs. Roberts Wayne and Mr. Ibsen as teachers over the years.
Mike taught them once (Comic #459), but it's possible that was a coverage. He seemed to confuse them.
The brown haired boy was named Hank in Comic #1013: Game of Homophones, and Anthony in Comic #1087: Valentine Reflections. Word of Creator says that the black-haired boy is actually Anthony.
Mark first appeared in Comic #1239: Function Transformation, where he was mentioned by name.
Bibi first appeared in the background of Comic #1213: Just What the Teacher Inscribed!, and named in #1218: Bibi.
Bibi's friends first appeared in the background of Comic 1301: A Day in the Life of a Sub.

When they get used more, they'll get separate entries. Any recent story line they might have appeared in was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The working names (according to the after-text for Comic #1468, but non-canon) are Freedom and Serenity/Ningjing. Freedom's parents are most likely Star Trek fans. Ningjing likes the anglicized name Serenity, and prefers friends call her that. (It is not known what name is used on the attendance roster.)

Kyung, (Brigid), Isabel and (Katie) first appeared in Comic #1424: W.O.D.B. #2. W.O.D.B. stands for "Which One Doesn't Belong?", which is a type of reasoning puzzle that usually has multiple answers (as many as 4) depending upon the reasoning/criteria used.

The four were originally conceived as Filipino students, however Kyung was retroactively made Korean. Her full name is Kyung Mi Park, but Shaun calls her "Ky". The other three girls have Spanish surnames, which haven't been mentioned (but are likely to be Diaz, Reyes and Francisco, after specific former colleagues of the author).

Isabel wears a hairband, usually with cat ears. Katie wears a red bow in her hair.

Shaun likes Isabel and finally started talking to her. He also is friends with Kyung who started playing soccer with the boys because there wasn't a girls team.

Any recent story line planned were cancelled because of the pandemic.

When they appear more, they'll get separate entries.

Hey you guys! is actually something from my childhood and nothing to do with this entry. But, anyway, neither of these two background characters have names, but both have graduated to the "B" team, appearing in multiple comics. Each have had dialogue and delivered a punch line, which makes them "go to" characters for when the need arises.

The one with blue pants sits in front of Shawn in Mr. Keegan's class.

If I ever do a naming contest, these guys might be good choices for it.

The Island boys first appeared in Comic #842: Quiz Snows, when Mike is teaching at a different school. They are almost identical in appearance but with a slightly different complexion.
These two are notable because several of the comics they appear in were featured in a Logic textbook, Logic As a Tool, published by the University of Stockholm.
Another piece of trivia is that they were based on a handful of students from a school I taught at who all had the same haircut. A couple of them were very similar in appearance. (Justified, because a couple of the real-life students were, in fact, related.)
The rough boys first appeared in Comic #712: A Different Kind of Substitution, Part 2. They attend a different school where Quinn Jonas went to sub. They started fighting as soon as they saw him. So far, they're the only students who wear their pants low and show off their bloomers.


Family is important to the comic creator, so family life started making appearances with the first Mothers Day comic.

Sharon Keegan first appeared in Comic #186: Thanksgiving with the Family. She was not identified yet, but she has her arm around her son, who previously appeared with Mike's and Mike's father. She is first named in (reference needed).
Sharon's occupation has not been stated, but she appears to work outside the home, particularly in the summer when other teachers are using the pool.
Mike Keegan's son first appeared in Comic #088: Generations X+1, X and X-1. His image has gone through several incarnations. He seems very interested in math, and thinks logically and mathematically.
His name has never been used, and at this point, it's likely to be Mike, Jr., Mikey or Mickey. At one point, there might've been another name for the character, but as it wasn't used, it was forgotten.
An "all growed up" Mike Jr appeared in Comic #1352: Not That Long (along with older versions of the rest of the family).
Jane Keegan is first mentioned in Comic #077: Midnight Movie. She first appeared in Comic #186: Thanksgiving with the Family. She was not identified yet, but she is with her mother and brother.
Jane is the younger sibling.
An "all growed up" Jane appeared in Comic #843: Don't Blink.
Mom Keegan first appeared in Comic #071: Reflection Over the X-Axis. She'd make many more appearances. Her final appearance was (reference needed), which may indeed be her final appearance.
It's not a coincidence that she was supposed to like Mike.
Mike's mother's name has not been revealed. Her love for Sean Connery has (Comic #866: Mothers Day 2014).
Dad "Joe" Keegan first appeared in Comic #177: Thanks, a Veterans Day comic. What war he served in hasn't been mentioned. At the time he was introduced, Korea would have made sense. However, since his two youngest boys jumped on the bed playing Moon Landing (reference needed) and Batman (reference needed), World War II isn't out of the question. Time stasis being what it is, it's better not to think too much on it.
Dad's Brother calls him "Joe" in Comic #1148: Happy Veterans Day 2016. He has been shown to have at least one living Brother and one deceased brother (Comic #726: Veterans Day 2012).
Mike's brothers and sisters appeared in Comic #186: Thanksgiving with the Family. It was later referred to as a dream (Comic #189). Spinning from the center of the Fibonacci spiral are Mike, his Mom, his older sister and her husband, three older brothers who live within traveling distance, and a far-off brother with his three kids and his wife (who looks like Barbara does now).

On the one hand, I try to make the comic family different from my own. On the other, I was in a rush for this comic, and I may have based some of them on actual people. This, of course, bothers the author as to those who were left out. It's not meant as an intention omission.
As long as I'm discussing the comic, only the last part was a reference to The Brady Bunch, not the entire comic. It doesn't fit the song. However, part of it references an old kids show, The Patchwork Family.

Mike's sister hosts some holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, as seen in Comic #405, and later years.

Young Mike first appeared in Comic #088: Generations X+1, X and X-1. Young Mike is usually shown in black and white and in the company of a younger Dad Keegan and Mike's next older sibling.
High school aged Mike appeared once, and became the new template for student characters. His classmate looks like his current student, Hal, who may or may not be father and son. (Or maybe it's just faulty memory?)
Grandpa Keegan appeared in Comic #088: Generations X+1, X and X-1, with a very young Dad Keegan. This was his only appearance, but notable because of the spiffy hat he is wearing.
Uncle Brother first appeared in Comic #726: Veterans Day 2012, establishing he was a veteran. Creator says he's a younger brother, but this has never been mentioned.
He is referred to as "Brother" in Comic #1601: Just Like B4BQ.
It is not unusual for Irish families to have an Uncle Brother, Uncle Junior (Junie), or Aunt Sis and Aunt Sissy (who are distinct people). However, Dad Keegan is not Uncle "Brother" to Brother's kids.

Misc. People

There are other people appearing on screen. Some of them may have been meant for story lines that never happened. Some may have been one-shots that sparked more appearances.

Chuck ??? first appeared in Comic #037: Leap Day. His name was first mention in Comic #156: Just Common Sense, where it was established that he was dating Judy. (He wasn't actually shown with her at that time.)
While never mentioned directly, Chuck works as a computer programmer, and as such, was meant to be a throwback to the author's younger years and previous occupation. The office comedy and cubicle jokes, for which some material was written, never appeared. I don't know if it was because I was afraid of going down a Dilbert hole, or because that life had just got farther away.
Frank ??? first appeared in Comic #037: Leap Day, where he was mentioned by name. He was 40 at the time, but looked (and felt) much older. He is a computer programmer and shares a cubicle with Chuck, although this has never been shown.
Frank is a drinking buddy with Pete, and the two frequent an unnamed pub occasionally.
Frank's unnamed nephew is shown in Comic #113. The nephew may or may not be related to the Keegans, as he appeared at the family Thanksgiving dinner (reference needed), but that may have been part of a tryptophan-induced dream (Comic #189). The dream implies that Frank has at least one niece as well, and a sister (who would have to be married to one of Mike's brothers). Another possible niece is a "wounded warrior", who is missing a leg (reference needed).
Frank's nephew first appeared in Comic #113: Nutrition Information, and makes at least two more appearances. He is probably a student, but that hasn't been shown (nor any school mentioned).
The nephew may or may not be related to the Keegans, as he appeared at the family Thanksgiving dinner (reference needed), but that may have been part of a tryptophan-induced dream (Comic #189). (Note that the dream mentioned his students and colleagues were there.) The dream implies that he has at least one sister. Another possible sister is a "wounded warrior", who is missing a leg (reference needed).
Frank's niece(s?) first appeared in Comic #186: Thanksgiving with the Family. She looks similar to Frank's nephew, who appears on the other side of a woman who may be their mother.

The nieces may or may not be related to the Keegans, but that may have been part of a tryptophan-induced dream (Comic #189). (Note that the dream mentioned his old students and colleagues were there.) The dream implies that he has at least one sister. Another possible sister is a "wounded warrior", who is missing a leg (Comic #1062).
Pete ??? first appeared in Comic #481: Diamond Ring, where he was mentioned by name. His name is a reference to Peter, Paul & Mary, from which the first joke is mined.
He is usually shown at a pub with his drinking buddy, Frank.


The most famous (or infamous) of the Geometric shapes was the one who really ushered them in as a new branch of the comic. While some characters were just random squares or triangles, others were full-fledged characters.

Trigonometry Jones started almost by accident. I had a joke about getting lost and having to be a "right" triangle. Then I added the spiffy hat, and Trigonometry Jones was born. Jones is called "Trigger" for short. He was accidentally called "Triggy" in the second series, so that stuck for those three strips. Trigger goes on adventures with the assistance of Karen Sceles and Allen Scalene, who is also a pilot. (There's a joke in there.) Those names haven't been mentioned "on-screen" yet.

First appearance, Comic #021: Trigonometry Jones and the Lost Compass, which became the first of three parts.

It's revealed in Comic #900: Trigonometry Jones and the Golden Ratio, Part 1.618033988749894848204586... that Trigger's first name is actually Roy.

Mountie Hall is not a shape. He's a person, either living or undead. He's appeared in a couple of Trigonometry Jones comics, so he is mentioned here.

First appearance, Comic #041: Trigonometry Jones and the Final Trailer, which turned out not to be final. Patterned after the Crusading Knight of the movie and Monty Hall.

Rio first appeared in Comic #076: Trigonometry Jones and the Temple of Duran, as the femme fatale. The sequence was supposed to be The Trapezoid of Doom until a bunch of 80s references happened, mostly dealing with one hair band in particular. You don't need to understand.
Prof. Jones, Sr. first appeared in Comic #349: Trigonometry Jones and the Golden Ratio: Part 1/1, which was much longer than one part, running for two weeks before taking a five-year break before its conclusion.
The senior Jones, Trigger's father, is also an archeologist who has been searching for the actual Golden Ratio, and crosses paths with the Innumerati!
Belle and Mr. Whiskers first appeared in Comic #288: Box and Whisker. Belle's name was first mentioned in the text that followed Comic #411, but not the comic itself. On the blog, she has her own tag/category.
COPS first appeared in Comic #818: Math Horror Movies: The Bridge of Parallelostein, and reappeared regularly in (x, why?) Minis. They are mostly generic, with one of them named "Charlie".
It was noted that with their hats on, these cops have 8 sides, making them octagons, as stop signs are.
It was also noted by a regular reader (who will be named if he permits it) that these Cops appear to be keystones.
But, seriously, who would think of keystone cops?
Eggoids first appeared in Comic #039: Mean Teacher.
They appear as personifications of mathematical terms and expressions. There are a way of putting a face to a Mean Teacher or a color to a Nice Tan.
Dec Savage first appeared in Comic #1367: Dec Savage: The Shape of Bronze.
He appeared as an attempt to keep the "Saturday Matinee" comics going after reruns of Trigonometry Jones, and the Case Book of Sherlock Pi. The titles followed the pulp order of the old Doc Savage magazine stories. Only a few were created.

Generic Science Fiction/Fantasy Characters That Have Absolutely NO Similarity to ANY Trademark Properties

The creator of this comic is a sci-fi geek. Geeky references happen. And some make appearances.

Old Alien Guy first appears in Comic #129: Hamlet 2: Claudius Strikes Back, aka "Jedi Hamlet".
Just a random old alien dude. With Hamlet. So not really that long a time ago nor far, far away.
Stick Trek first appears in Comic #502: Redshirts. Just a bunch of random stick people taking a trip, a trek if you will. Nothing to see here.
Two Generic Space Robots first appears in Comic #5720: Movie Night, A Long Time Ago ... They live on Earth and watch movies, naturally. Right here, right now.
Tomorrow's Teachers of Tomorrow first appeared in Comic #388: Recharge. They are a group of retro/future sci-fi robots meant to look like something predicted in 1950s or 1960s. They were created using standard shapes in MS Word along with the shading function. The boxy robots are the older models. The cylinder robots are newer.
It is assumed that their students are human children.

These robots were the inspiration behind the story "Revoltage" in In A Flash 2020 by Christopher J. Burke, from eSpec Books.
One of the square robots is referred to as AM-388. The AM is a reference to a line of old worker robots in the story in the anthology, while 388 refers to their first appearance.

Religious Figures

St. Patrick appeared starting St. Patick's Day in 2008. His first appearance was in Comic #044: How St. Patrick Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland. It was quickly followed up with one last Adder remaining. They later came to be know as "Paddy and Addy" (Comic #084).
Noah first appeared starting in Comic #060: Noah's Ark. Not sure whether it was irreverent or blashphemous, I showed it to someone I believed quite devout -- and she laughed hysterically. In subsequent appearances, the ark has sprouted more animals. The tiny figures of Noah and his sons were blown up for a crossover in Comic #165.
William of Occam appeared starting in Comic #445: William of Occam. He only appeared once, but he's kind of cool. Maybe he'll show up again after taking over a decade off.

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