Penny Arcade Origins - Charles

By Leonard Volk

Charles is one of the ten heroes you can find in the Penny Arcade The Game: Rumble in R’lyeh Deck-building Game.  He is the avid Apple enthusiast who, of course, works at the Apple store.  His ongoing relationship with Gabe and Tycho is rocky at first, but as you will see, all ends well.  Charles represents a “dark side” where technology is clean, crisp, and inspiring.  Gabe and Tycho have always been PC users with Apple as their sworn enemy.  I also am a PC user and never once touched an Apple device, until the day a friend bestowed upon me an iPad.  The experience was like mixing oil and vinegar: delicious!

First introduced in the comic as Chuck, the Apple fanboy is the antagonist of the Mac.  When the Quake 3 test was released to the masses, people found out how awesome computer graphics could be, and it was even better with superior hardware.  The fact that a person could purchase a Mac, out of the box, and start playing a graphically intensive game without the hardware assembly and tweaking PC enthusiasts love felt downright shameful.  The tables were quickly turned as Bungie showed Halo running on Apple hardware at the MacWorld Expo, but it was soon rumored that the game may never be released to run on a Mac.  Gabe went to half-heartedly console Chuck, who promptly threw himself out the window.  Charles emerged from the accident with a new hipster visage after some minor alterations.  His new attitude and look set the stage for him to be more direct and witty around Gabe and Tycho.
The majority of the next few years showcased some minor interactions between Gabe and Charles.  There would be presentations in one form or another to showcase the technological superiority of a Mac and Gabe would be lured into shutting his pie hole.  Jaunts from Charles continued with Doom III running on a new nVidia card at MacWorld and the presentation of where Gabe was legally barred from entering in the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Even with the releases of new Macs, the excitement of pie baking, and the sound of arguments about media players, Charles has just been waiting for the opportunity to seduce the guys with the forbidden fruit.
One fateful night, Gabe had installed iTunes, and in this software he found out a cold truth about himself.  With no one else to turn, to he came to Charles’s door, and was welcomed in.  They would spend the night making movies and burning them to DVDs with interactive menus. This wouldn’t stop Gabe from defacing Charles’ apartment door with paintings, but perhaps this was simply a ruse to disguise his true feelings of what he found with Apple software.  Soon thereafter we find Tycho visiting the Apple store to spy on Gabe inside who conversing with Charles.  Gabe played it off as he had become lost on the way to Cinnabon.  Charles knew exactly why Tycho was there: the brand new Intel Laptop with cinema display.
Apple hardware had completely drawn Gabe and Tycho in now and Charles was there to ease their transition.  A vigilant defender of the mall store and active master of the Tofurky holiday loaf, Charles now represents more than just a snarky Mac user.  He is an olive branch in comic form to all PC users of the wonders of Apple.