El Goonish Shive is a web comic by Dan Shive, launched on January 21, 2002, that mainly depicts the lives of a group of friends in their junior year of high school. Said lives contain transformation guns, alternate universes and a shape-shifting half-squirrel girl. It should be noted that EGS is not a simple gag strip; the characters are fairly complex and believeable despite existing in a setting where women can use Hammerspace.
El Goonish Shive does not have much of a status quo. Storylines are most often long and convoluted and rarely result in things returning to the way they were. Despite this, the author manages to keep everything making sense (within the context of the comic). Much like how the storytelling of The Matrix makes bullet time perfectly sensible, the storytelling of El Goonish Shive makes a shapeshifting squirrel girl quite normal-seeming.
Fans of the comic are styled bunnies for lack of a better name. According to Dan, soon after the comic launched and began to gather fans, the forums teemed with one question: "By what shall we call ourselves?" Dan had no clue, and picked the first thing that came to mind: bunnies. 1.
Elliot Dunkel – Once your average seventeen year-old boy, aside from studying anime-style martial arts, Elliot has encountered many interesting experiences since the beginning of the comic. So far, he has been transformed into both a cat and a female version of himself; fought a monstrous goo; had a female counterpart split off of himself; and been beaten up by a half-hedgehog. His best friend is Tedd, whose love for technology has caused a fair amount of Elliot's recent headaches. due to technology and magic, he can resume the cat and female forms if he chooses. He is a level-headed character who downplayed the fact that he was apparently the most powerful fighter in the group until recent developments.
Tedd Verres – An androgynous teenage boy with a knack for trouble and technology, Tedd is in love with Grace, and is Elliot's best friend. He wears specially enhanced glasses which have several modes, including a recently-removed X-ray vision mode. He was once shy, being harassed for being so feminine-looking, but has attained a great deal of confidence since being entrusted with developing alien morphing technologies. (Of course, he uses them in his free time, but those are just perks in his line of work.) His relationship with Grace has been interesting, and it is often shown that he would do anything to keep her out of harm's way. Tedd also has what Grace refers to as a "furry fetish". He seems to like Grace's animal forms, mainly her half-squirrel and half-cat forms. Although in many ways the typical horny teenage boy...with transformation obsessions...his core character has forced those who judge him (Susan) to re-evaluate their perceptions.
Ellen Dunkel – the female duplicate of Elliot, after having been split from him. Acted as his evil twin for a while when she saw herself as a temporary "extra Elliot", but has adjusted better under an identity of her own. Elliot considers her his sister; Tedd considers her a hot female Elliot. Although the origin of the magical item that created her is rather murky, she's alive and well, and a newfound addition to The Crew. Can shoot a beam that mimics female variant #5 on Tedd's transformation gun. Has proven to be a more playful and flirty form of Elliot, it is unknown if this is due to being female or just trying to be herself in her own right.
Sarah – Elliot's best friend turned girlfriend. Artistic and arguably the most normal of the crew, with no special abilities aside from the use of Hammerspace (which is a normal female ability in EGS) but she is not to be underestimated – a time may come in which she proves quite capable to fight. Being one of the first characters, she has apparently specified a no-bikini clause in her contract to fend off a leering Tedd.
Grace Sciuridae (a.k.a. Shade Tail) – A shapeshifting were-squirrel who spends a good deal of her time as a human girl named Grace. She can transform into a variety of forms, including squirrel, half-squirrel, Tedd, and a human girl named Claire. She's been fortunate enough to save her were-"family" through some rather strange events. Her name refers to the girl whose DNA was used in making her. A favorite of the author's, Grace's innocence and pure cuteness are some of her best features, something which recent events have challenged. Has been drawn to Tedd from the start, for whom her comfortability with nudity is both a torment and a dream come true.
Nanase Kitsune – Ex-girlfriend of Elliot, a student of anime-style martial arts. Initially presented as the number one anime-style martial arts student (until it was revealed that Elliot is holding back out of fear of hurting others), she is a dangerous fighter who has learned how to transmit her conciousness into cute little fairy shapes near her friends. Her friendship with Ellen has led to some uncomfortable self-discovery: after a lot of speculation from Justin and the fans, Nanase came out as a lesbian to Elliot and Susan; the latter let it slip to Ellen and Justin. She has recently received a great deal of attention, not just due to her budding relationship with Ellen, but also because of the intrigue around what her family is going to do in reaction to her coming out. Dresses provacatively when she can get away with it, as her family makes her dress mega-conservatively otherwise. However, she looks down on using her looks to manipulate anothers, and her habit of choosing the good over the popular has hurt her social status, although she considers this no great loss. Also revealed to be Tedd's cousin, although they had formerly not been close as friends.
Justin Tolkiberry – Student of anime martial arts, though not equivalent in skill to Nanase or Elliot. Friends with the two and a part-time worker in a comic shop. Gay. Previous to more recent story arcs, Justin would taunt Nanase teasingly, hinting that she might also be gay. Although willing to fight the goo, is not considered a major fighter compared to his unusual friends, which caused him no end of frustration in recent events. Yes, his last name is a reference to his Lord of the Rings obsession, for he is a geek. In fact, a recent attempt to divert the comic narration into a hobbit crossover got him the standard "punishment" by Dan of being temporarily turned into a girl (non-continuity). Of course, Justin thought this fantastic, and ran off to pick up boys.
Susan (Tiffany) Pompoms – A somewhat jaded, cynical female high school student at about the same age as the rest of the main cast. Having a name contrary to her personality, she dyes her blond hair black, and prefers to go by her middle name, Susan – her first name being Tiffany was a surprise to all. (In an alternate universe the author experimented with, she remained Tiffany, and was almost unrecognizable). Her recent opening up to others is unfamiliar ground to her, as it had to be pointed out by Tedd that it had been happening. Largely interpreted a sterotypical "man hater" due to her general, vauge distaste toward males. It is implied very heavily that this is due to Susan's father leaving her mother at a young age, smitten with his pert young secretary. Hit it off well with Justin, and started to develop a crush on him, so of course his homosexuality re-inforced her conviction that men stink. After this latest blow, Susan begged Ellen to zap her with Variant #5, thinking being a lesbian would solve her issues. This was actually far beyond Ellen's capabilities – besides, Variant #5 raises overall sexuality, thus making her attracted to both, not changing them from guys, leaving Susan's issues unresolved. It was hinted in early storylines that she studied magic with Nanase, as she could summon a sword to fight the goo. Her prior eagerness to bash everyone for sexist remarks with the hammer that women can summon in the EGS universe, has earned her the moniker of "Hammer Queen".
Dan – The creator of the comic often appears as himself...more accurately as a squirrel furry morph à la Grace. He intially gave himself a female avatar, but switched to male more recently, apparently just because. The other characters are aware of him... sometimes. You just can't take continuity too serious around here: if there's a funny idea to persue, or he needs to rant about something, Dan will show up with or without interacting with the other characters.
Greg – Founder of anime style martial arts, this multiple black belt holder has tapped into the universal truths behind anime fighting after watching anime for 168 hours straight following a particularly bad breakup. Tall and imposing, Greg's presence has faded considerably after the goo incident, although it is possible that the situation just hasn't presented itself. Greg has done favors above and beyond his scope as teacher, one of which was to watch over Grace for a time. He appears to have the anime-style ability to sense other people's inner power, and was able to sense it in Grace as foreshadowing to later storylines. He is older than The Crew, and therefore seen as a "legitimate" adult for parental reasons. Also seems to be the only black guy around.
Dr. Germahn – First billing himself as a stereotypical German doctor (and as such, bears a resembalance to Albert Einstein), he pops in whenever something scientific needs to be explained. Although considered a mad scientist by some, Germahn prefers to concoct experiments that wind up being strange but all in good fun.
Amanda – Dr. Germahn's busty and gullible lab assistant, who is often an unwilling volunteer in his weird experiments. Tends to get shrunk. A lot.
Mr. Verres – Tedd's father and a secretive government agent. Also seems to be a cryptic writer, able to bring out the inner feelings of anyone who reads his notes.
Principal Verrückt – Passionate yet misguided principal of Moperville North High School. He believes that all of the school's problems (such as students fighting, transgender mayhem, wrecked hallways and hairpiece snatchings) can be solved through the use of horrendously overpriced murals, or more drastic measures such as school uniforms.
TC – Also known as "Da Playah", he fits a simple generic macho archetype. The name itself is a reference to his job as a theater clerk, which is where the name stemmed from. Mostly used for comic relief.
Melissa – Ex-girlfriend of Justin, who believes that Justin's homosexuality is "just a phase".
Nioi – A wise yet enigmatic anthro-skunk from the Alpha Dimension. She encounters several of the main characters at the end of the Painted Black story arc. Is at the service of the evil Lord Tedd. However, her intentions toward the main characters seem to be good. Has become somewhat of a favorite among many fans. "Nioi" is the Japanese word for "scent". Has tried to help Ellen by giving her a separate past from her life as Elliot; the effectiveness and consequences of this are not yet known.
Kaoli – A young anthro-skunk with a strange resemblence to Nioi. She first appears in Ellen's dream immediately following Painted Black story arc, and has reappeared each night since then in Ellen's dreams as a childhood friend of Ellen. "Kaoli" is the Japanese word for "fragrence". She has been instrumental in helping Ellen by giving her a separate past from her life as Elliot; though the effectiveness and consequences of this are not yet known.
Dr. Sciuridae – Biological father to the original Grace Sciuridae. During the experiments that led to the Grace we know of today, he replaced the blood of the intended human donor with that of his deceased daughter in a fleeting chance to resurrect her.
Guineas, Hedge, and Vlad – Grace's "brothers", created in the same laboratory before Grace. Served Damien until recently.
Damien – A rather generic villain with a superiority complex. Attempted to use Grace and her brothers in his plot to rule Earth, but was destroyed before it could come into fruition.
Lord Tedd – Tedd's evil counterpart from what is known as the Alpha Dimension. Other than this, little is known about him or his past, other than his malicious intent. Our Tedd is, naturally, frightened by the knowledge of what he became under less generous circumstances. Other alternate Tedds have been shown: "Beta Tedd" alerted The Crew to the existence of Lord Tedd, and is dating a female Elliot. Ellen's alternate past shows an outcast Tedd with low self-esteem – the obviously alternate universe remains unspecified, and this could be a young Lord Tedd.
Mr. Bleuel – The El Goonish Shive universe's counterpart to the real life Nukees creator and co-CEO of Keenspot Dr. Darren "Gav" Bleuel. He appears as a disgruntled physics teacher at Moperville South, and gets disturbed by Nanase levitating and thus breaking the law of gravity. According to Dan Shive, he will be a recurring character.
Demonic Duck – Is pretty much what it sounds like; a demonic duck of some sort. Started as a running joke about one person attempting to distract another, eventually it gained a personality of its own, and is even part of a distractor's union.
Writer's Block – Literally a small rectangular block complete with paws, ears, and a tail who occasionally terrorizes Dan and renders him unable to create new comics. Can also fly somehow.
Minion – Dan's administrative assistant, though he takes the title of minion because it pays better.
Moperville North HS – Primary location where the story surrounding the crew takes place. Of the main characters, Elliot, Tedd, Sarah, and Susan attend this school. This is also the site that the Goo attacked Ellen toward the end of the Sister story arc. Run by Principal Verrückt.
Moperville South HS – The other high school of Moperville, attended by Nanase and Justin. After Grace's 18th birthday, Grace and Ellen will also be attending here.
Anime-Style Martial Arts Dojo – School of martial arts owned by Greg, and attended by Elliot, Nanase, and Justin. Located in a less-than-stellar region of Moperville (near by stores include a strip club, cigarette store, adult book store, abortion clinic, and an ice cream shop).
Pttaputasf – Location of the government's "Paranormal Things That Are Of Little Use To Anyone Storage Facility", an almost unsecured, low priority building that houses the Dewitchery Diamond.
Salty Crackers Comic Shop – Comic shop of Moperville that Justin works at. Also a site where several junior high school students congregate to play card games.
Video Rental Store – Store in Moperville that employes Susan, under the management of Mr. Tensaided.
The Nest – Name of the government facility where Grace and her brothers were born. Until the death of Damien, it was occupied by Damien, Hedge, Vlad, and Guineas.
Tedd's House – Home to Tedd and Mr. Verres. Events frequently take place at, or at least begin, here. Has been visited by aliens, and is home to Tedd's lab, where the TF gun was invented.
Transformation Gun – Device developed for the purpose of cosmetic changes in a person, used by Tedd. Unlike normal transformation guns, found on the Uryuom homeworld, the gun Tedd develops on uses object oriented programming. Known forms programmed into Tedd's gun are Cat, Hedgehog, Dog, Chipmunk, Mouse, Raccoon, Jeremy, Fox, Squirrel, in both Male and Female versions.
Transformation Belt – Belt designed by Tedd to incorporated Transformation Gun technology into a more compact form. As a sacrifice for size, the belt lacks the tranquilizer effect found in the full sized gun, making transformations using the belt much more painful to the user. Forms programmed into it include only Feline and Human forms.
Dewitchery Diamond – Enchanted diamond created by a wizard to cure a noble of a curse, presumably during the Middle Ages. It works by separating the curse from the person afflicted, and transfer the curse into a duplicate of the original. The original retains the ability to transform into the cursed state at will, while the duplicate remains in the transformed state along with the ability to spread the curse.