a very anti-hero
One of the strip’s main characters, Dirk was introduced in Who’s Minding The Score? (WMTS) #0002 as the Anchorman at Ft. Fitzer’s Channel 23 Newsroom turned Marketing Director for the Ft. Fitzer Philharmonic (FFP). Within a single season, he rose to the rank of FFP Music Director, which he subsequently lost due to incompetence. After a brief period as a stable boy, he returned to the FFP as the President & CEO.
Dirk’s role tends to be one of antagonist/anti-hero and his ability to unknowingly mix metaphors appears to be matched only by his wide ranging incompetence. He’s been either directly or tangentially involved in most of WMTS’s conflicts (plus a few solutions) and his seemingly boundless stupidity, lack of knowledge about classical music, and misogynistic leanings are kept in check by Carol’s unrelenting diligence. He’s also known for having a flare for fashion and he holds a grudge against Maestro Mechickaboola for succeeding him as FFP Music Director.
Carol is a genuine manager’s manager and the glue that holds the band together. In her own words “nothing can rattle me, I feel like a battle hardened soldier ready for anything.” She frequently serves as the guardian of artistic standards and adminsitrative voice of reason; even so, her regular foils in Dirk, Sal, The Board Chair, and Helga continuously push those limits. She handles all but the worst of news with poise and grace and is frequently the manager responsible for breaking up fights in the office.
Her superiors frequently tax her patience due to their lack of fundamental understanding behind how the orchestra functions and on more than a few occasions have embarrassed her in front of the musicians and fellow managers by putting their ignorance on display, at which point she retreats behind her ever-present clipboard. Carol maintains a close professional relationship with Sandy and often confides in her about her concerns and frustrations.
Fun Fact: Carol’s clipboard is actually a tablet but she felt that using a cover which simultaneously serves as a functional clipboard kept her grounded. Her original clipboard, an antique, was destroyed by The Board Chair when his clumsy attempt for revenge was thwarted by the orchestra’s tubist, Puddles. Oh, the same shot destroyed the concertmaster’s Stradivarius too.
THE BOARD CHAIR
“I don’t know if it’s the right move, but I do know it’s the right price.”
A habitually clueless know-it-all, The Board Chair serves as the strip’s primary antagonist. A consummate one-percenter, he’ll pinch every penny past the breaking point when it comes to the orchestra but frequently abuses his position in the organization to increase his own standing and perks. After using his connections to convince the orchestra’s long time benefactor to bail them out, he and his board cronies promptly spent the portion designated for the orchestra’s endowment on a private board party and a private jet, which promptly sent the orchestra’s bottom line into a tail spin. His solution was to file bankruptcy so that the board could keep the jet and never letting a good crisis go to waste, he made sure the board hired his brother in law’s legal firm to handle the bankruptcy.
His plans were foiled after his old beau, Helga Beltafeller, stepped up to erase the orchestra’s debts but in the process, she implemented a board coup, put Dirk in place as CEO, and attempted to commandeer the jet. In retaliation, the Board Chair took “his” jet to Mexico in an attempt to let things blow over but Helga was waiting for him and sprung her trap once he learned that Dirk took over his corner office. Following those events, he began to work his back (albeit slowly) to Ft. Fitzer to confront Helga and Dirk.
That’s Maestro Mechickaboola to you!
Salagadoola (Sal) Mechickaboola character came about after the musicians decided to strike over a string of incompetent full time and interim music directors. He was selected without a search or input from Carol and rose to the top of the list because his competition consisted of a “grumpy, boring German guy” and a French conductor (which was apparently enough to get axed without discussion). Sal got the FFP gig because he already held a posts the Music Director of the Rigomortisum Musica and “has that vampire look which is all the rage now.”
The local music critic, Lars Raypenpillage, loves what he’s done with the orchestra but Sal disdains the musicians and at one point, insisted the entire lot be replaced with Chinese work force. Although loaded with artistic self assurance, Sal doubts his leadership abilities in all other areas. His primary source of advice and counsel is his bust of Maestro Von Karajan, which sits atop his grand piano. His character was introduced on 12/05/2010 and Sal loathes Dirk and sees him for the fraud that he is.
the wealthy dowager…”Hello Stupids!”
Helga Beltefeller was introduced into the strip on 3/27/2011 as a way to reintroduce Dirk into the strip. Her character quickly grew into a life of its own and is one of the few with a known back story. Helga is the widow of the infamous arcade mogul, Claus Vihngnutt Beltafeller, who made his fortune as the inventor of Whack-a-Mole. Helga often resorts to bullish behavior, takes joy in emasculating others, and does not suffer fools wisely; even though she herself is often foolish. Her short temper and vindictive personality push her toward violent tenancies.
After discovering Dirk Stent was working for her as a stable boy, and subsequently falling in lust with him, she embraced the part of the quintessential wealthy dowager and used a small part of her fortune to clear out the orchestra’s massive debts and reinstate Dirk into the FFP’s hierarchy. She had a short-lived and unpleasant relationship with the Board Chair before meeting her first husband and has held a grudge against him ever since.
Sandy serves as Carol’s confidant and faithful sidekick and is responsible for keeping an eye on things and letting Carol know when events might be getting out of hand. Frequently seen answering the phone, she remains one of the more reliable members and only barely tolerates Dirk’s misogynists tendencies.
More often than not, she is seen standing ready or serving as the strip’s Greek Chorus to help fill in plot details and move the story along.
The Boss, Jimmy Reed Knife, and Benny Da Backhoe
Serving more as a projection of stereotypical caricatures, the Union Reps are featured throughout the strip as the primary conduit between the actual orchestra musicians and executive management. However, The Board Chair only became aware of their existence (and that the musicians were unionized in the first place) after attempting to replace the musicians with Chinese workforce at Maestro Mechickaboola’s insistence. He got a quick education and ultimately backed down from the plan. He crossed paths with “da union reps” once again when he had the orchestra file for bankruptcy.
During an orchestra musician meeting about the bankruptcy, the union brought in a “Cracker Jack Attorney” named “Benny Da Backhoe” to advice the trombone section on where the Board Chair parks his car.
The actual union boss is unnamed but his primary enforcer is “Jimmy Reed Knife.” Trust us, you don’t want to make Jimmy irate. It’s a “bad ting for him ta be…”
criticus maestus maximus
Intended as a one-off character, the local music critic for the Fort Fitzer Herald first appeared on 6/13/2010 as a way to introduce outside artistic opinion and became an instant hit. A throwback to a time and place when classical music occupied the highest tier of great art and it’s god was the maestro, his primary concern is artistic integrity and the only time he contacts the FFP is to question artistic decisions or suck up to Maestro Mechickaboola.
As to why he’s portrayed as the Grim Reaper with a penchant for retro technology and uses his scythe as a fountain pen; why the hell not?