Penelope Gaines is an employee of Coffee of Doom and former employee of a bookstore.[1]

She is suspected of having been the superhero Pizza Girl, formerly a recurring character. She was courted by Sven's friend Wil, a poet, but they only had two awkward dates before he decided to find himself on the road.[2] He kept up correspondence with her while he was away.[3] When he returned she discovered to her dismay that he had never had a job before[4] and helped him gain one at the local bar, The Horrible Revelation.

Prior to Wil, her relationships with men were dissatisfying.[5] Her complaints led Dora to call her "the bitterest girl on earth".[6]

Penelope likes to read and dreams of becoming a publisher or literary agent.[7]. She has, however, not taken action toward this goal since an internship after college.[8]

Her tastes in reading are varied, including trashy romances and serious literature.[9] but do not extend to Hemingway, whom she despises.[10] Although she does sometimes read romance novels,[11] in general she hates them.[12] Her favorite genre is history.[13] She has a copy of Scientific American in her bedroom, and possibly "Lord of the Flies."[14] She has gotten into edit wars on Wikipedia.[15]

She is physically fit.[16]

Penelope is the only character whose religious beliefs have been mentioned in the comic (for Hannelore we only know her upbringing,[17] not her current beliefs). She is an atheist and materialist, despite or because of strictly religious parents.[18] Her exposition of her beliefs came in the form of one of her characteristic[19][15] passionate speeches.

Penelope is tied for second place in Jeph Jacques's list of his favorite characters,[20] though this may have changed over time.

Sex and drugs and rock&rollEdit


Penelope is exclusively heterosexual and selective.[21] She would apparently approve of seeing Marten naked, however.[22]


Penelope drinks caffeine but not alcohol.[23]

Music preferencesEdit

Her tastes in music are largely unknown, but she does own a T-shirt for "The Decemberists", an indie-folk rock band.[24]

Memorable quotesEdit

  • "And PLEASE stop pronouncing my name like "antelope." I'm not an ungulate."[1]
  • " What if I WAS just re-alphabetizing my bookshelf? Is that activity inherently INFERIOR to going on a date with someone?"[15]
  • "I’m just terrified that it’s gonna turn out I really AM Pizza Girl but I have schizophrenia or something."[26]
  • "I don't mind being oded as long as he keeps it above the neckline. Luscious-fruit and delicate-flower similes are third-date material at best."[27]
  • "I'm sorry to hear about your 'throbbing, desperate tumescence.' Isn't there a cream or something to treat that?"[28]
  • "It's just dumb and irrational! There's no EVIDENCE for any of it! It's all stupid fairy-tales that people use to shield themselves from reality. There ARE no spirits, there IS no afterlife, and there IS no GOD watching over us like some creepy cosmic voyeur."[18]
  • "I shouldn't have to! I'm RIGHT!"[29]
  • "I love it when it's raining and all the cute runner boys have to come in here. Their butt-tectonics really get my seismometer going, if you know what I mean".[30]
  • "Your brain can't ALWAYS work like this. You wouldn't have survived childhood."[31]
  • "Shut up and kiss me, you dolt"[32]

Major eventsEdit

  • Starts work at Coffee of Doom after a miserable job at a bookstore[1]
  • First date with Wil[33]
  • Second date with Wil[34]
  • Finding out about Wil's background[4]


Penelope denies being Pizza Girl but the strip has left open the possibility that she is Pizza Girl without knowing it.[26] Or, perhaps not...[35]

With the introduction of Dale the role of Pizza Girl has been thrown into question. It can be assumed that Jeph has either discontinued her from canon in favor of Dale's character, (as he delivers pizzas) or that Penelope was Pizza Girl and has abandoned her alter ego due to her employment at Coffee Of Doom. Jeph has stated, however, that her likeness to Pizza Girl "will never be explained."[36]