Sinfest is a webcomic written and drawn by Japanese-American comic strip artist Tatsuya Ishida. The first strip appeared on January 17, 2000. A new strip is published often (usually daily) on the Sinfest website. On July 9, 2006, the Sinfest website underwent a redesign, and became self-published, no longer a member of Keenspot.
Slick is an inept womanizer and self-proclaimed pimp. During poetry readings, he takes on the name Slick-Daddy the Beat Poet, while during the "Ninja Theatre" strips, he becomes Wasabi the Pimp Ninja. Ishida admits that Slick's appearance is based on Calvin from Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes; he has the same spiky blond hair and diminutive stature, but he is almost always wearing shades. Slick is aged "between 14 and 21," but he is often seen consuming alcohol and looking at porn. In the first strips, he applies to the Devil to sell his soul, and his application remained pending for years (it was accepted, later rejected, and, after the Devil's return from retirement, finally processed). Despite his claims, Slick usually has very poor luck with women, who rarely find him attractive. Much of the strip's humor revolves around Slick's futile attempts to persuade Monique to have sex with him, although in recent strips he is usually shown as having genuine feelings for her. On occasion, he has persuaded Monique to go on a date with him, but Squigley ruins it in some way, persuading Monique to break off the date.
Monique is an attractive 16-year-old girl who has "many tramp-like qualities, but deep down inside she's still a tramp". Monique often appears shallow and vain, but has a reflective and insecure side as well. She has low fidelity and a rampant interest in men. She remains single, however; early strips implied that she might be quite promiscuous in her sexual activity, but this aspect of her character was later toned down. A running gag in the strip is that she seems to be attracted to every man she sees except Slick. Although Slick and Monique are frequently shown getting on each other's nerves, they remain friends. The majority of Slick's comments and actions toward Monique are of a purely sexual nature, but the two often depend on one another for company and amusement.
There have also been strips where it is implied that she may have some feelings for Slick as well (or at least a possessive nature towards him). One such example involved Slick having a conversation with a girl in a bar who seemed to be romantically interested in him, which prompted Monique to indignantly state that the other girl was talking to "my Slicky!". Also, in one of the Sunday comics when Slick and Monique have taken to writing their own stories, in the last panel as they sit on two opposite sides of a tree, there is an engraving on the tree between them that says "S+M" surrounded by a heart that may have been made by Monique, as it seemed above Slick's reach due to his diminutive stature. Monique's alter egos include Yellow Tail the Geisha Slut Villainess and Spoken-word Star It Girl; her nicknames include 'Nique and Money, which sometimes causes some of Slick's comments to have double meanings.
Criminy is an intelligent, bespectacled youngster who frequently acts as the strip's lone voice of reason. He is shy, innocent and polite, frequently addressing the other characters as "Ms. Monique" and "Sir." His nicknames include Crim, Short Stuff and Crimmy. Despite his somewhat staid demeanor, Criminy is a great breakdancer and DJ, but the other characters do not seem to be aware of this. Possibly due to his gentlemanly nature, Criminy seems to be very attractive to other women, but his unceasing innocence prevents him from getting involved with the romantic or devious intentions of his suitors.
Beginning in the later part of 2007, Criminy is mostly seen in a fort made entirely of books that is posted against a tree near a lake. The purpose of the fort is apparently to shield him from the evils of the world.
In direct contrast to Criminy is Slick's sidekick Squigley or "Squig," an anthropomorphic pig. Although most often in the company of Slick, he is also friends with Criminy and Monique; he is the only anthropomorphic animal in the cast, something that none of the characters seem to notice. Crude and seemingly dumb, Squigley is a male chauvinist who belittles women shamelessly: "Naw, they're trophies, man, trophies. They're objects! Show ponies! Slabs o' meat! SEX TOYS!" Like Slick, he is addicted to pornography and alcohol, and is also a heavy marijuana user. A joke which is seen several times is Squigley's tendency to smoke any plant he finds using his pipe - including mistletoe and clover. Squigley's alter egos include the poet Notorious P.I.G. and Tonkatsu the Pig Ninja. During the series he once quit his habits but returned eventually.This shows he has some redeemable aspects to his personality - this is backed up by his respect for Slick. However, he is mostly treated as comic relief.
God is typically shown as his hand (or occasionally both hands). God often uses a hand puppet to portray other characters, most often the Devil. His "Devil" puppet looks intentionally ridiculous.
God's speech is written in blackletter when he is speaking directly. When God is speaking as one of the hand puppets, normal letters are used. His manner of speaking is no different from that of any other character. His speech bubbles usually come from between two large cumulus clouds above some hills, upon which the strip's other characters usually sit or stand to talk to him. In addition to engaging the characters in often heartfelt conversation, God frequently performs monologues or skits with puppets while Slick and Monique, seated as if at a play, watch, occasionally commenting to each other on the performance (Re a mustached artist puppet, Monique notes "He looks like Gallagher."). Other times God's puppet performances are more sudden, snapping Slick from whatever task or thought had previously occupied him; on these occasions, God speaks to Slick "in character" as the puppet.
With the exception of "fan boy" Seymour, none of the mortal characters seem especially impressed with the ability to regularly converse with God, nor does God seem offended at their casual form of address. In particular, Slick tends to speak to God with remarkable casualness: "Look, it's the giant hand of God. Hey, God. Wassup."
In one strip placing the strip in Bizarro World, God's appearance is hinted as he stands on the ground and looks into the clouds at the Devil's hand.
Unlike God, the Devil is portrayed as a human-sized being. He has the requisite horns, pointed beard and tail. He is usually dressed in a suit, except for a sequence of strips where he "quit" and was seen at the beach wearing a Hawaiian shirt or when hunting he wears a hat and hunting jacket. Like God, his manner of speech is no different from anyone else's. When he first sees God making fun of him with His "Devil" hand puppet, the Devil responds with "Hey yo that shit ain't funny." The Devil walks the Earth like any human, conversing with people normally, usually to give (bad) advice. While said people often ask the Devil theological questions, the Devil rarely gives a straight answer. However, he is not often seen being actively evil. Instead he engages in monologues in which he expounds on all the evil deeds he has done. Recently he has played the part of a master of temptation. He also frequently has a small, home-made kiosk which says "Anything you want," in exchange for "$Your soul." It is very similar to Lucy's from Peanuts, which is pointed out in one particular strip. After the similarity is shown, the Devil makes a "The Devil is in" sign to parody it further. The devil's 'regular' customer is Slick.
God and the Devil are rivals, but in Sinfest their rivalry seems to be a vehicle for insights on religion.
Sinfest's devil makes an appearance in an installment of the webcomic Chopping Block.
The Devil owns Cerberus, a three-headed dog.
Seymour is a customarily unflattering portrayal of Christian fundamentalists. Like Squigley, Seymour's appearance is unique; instead of resembling a traditional human, his face and head are like those of a stick figure, and he wears a white robe. He has a halo, but it is not a true halo: there is a support visible. He is often seen praying, preaching, or sitting quietly reading his Bible. He is a constant annoyance or laughing-stock to all of the other characters, except God (though even God has made fun of him behind his back), especially the Devil and the Devil's fanboy Li'l Evil. He incessantly criticizes anyone who is not as pious as he, and is never deterred when the response to his criticism and preaching is negative, as it almost always is. Even God's angels, Ezekiel and Ariel, seem to think Seymour is an embarrassment; in one strip, to excuse his behavior, they say that Seymour is still "in training".
In the earlier strips, Seymour bore a cross on the front of his tunic, but it was quickly dropped as Ishida apparently did not like the style.
Seymour's life is dominated by all things related to Christianity. However, even this does not prevent his manner of speech from being as "street" as any of the other characters'. Some of the humor of Seymour is generated by his mixing of religious terms and archaic diction with street-speak. For example, when preparing for a fight: "VERILY! C'mon, heathen punk, let's dance!" and later: "Gonna get my tussle on and smite thee from here to rapture! By faith, thou art toast!". The other characters most often regard Seymour with mild amusement so long as he does not become too pushy.
Seymour has been shown grappling with his own faith on many occasions, such as when he was tempted into wishing harm on others, and felt disillusioned with the state of the world. However, the true fundamentalist, he is always seen confessing and trying to "pray it out" afterwards, even if worried and scared. He is an avid consumer of any and all Christian merchandise, which the Devil often uses to tempt or distract him, offering items such as "a limited edition Golden Age Book of Genesis #1 with chrome foil cover, autographed by Moses."
In the Ninja Theatre stories Seymour's alter ego is the Iron Monk, who endlessly praises Buddha while carrying signs.
Perhaps in order to associate a bit of humor with the character of the Devil, and to create an ironic counterpoint to Seymour's obsessive worship of God, Ishida introduced the initially unnamed Devil's fanboy (later dubbed Li'l Evil). Li'l Evil is a miniature (about Slick's height) copy of the Devil himself, usually seen dressed in an "E" T-shirt (he sometimes wears a suit like his idol) and with a pair of horns, except that he lacks a tail, a beard and supernatural powers; unlike Slick, Li'l Evil may be a pre-adolescent. He is apparently a normal human dressed up as the Devil. He constantly tries to emulate his idol, much to The Devil's annoyance, although his acts of evil are rather mundane (such as returning a rented video without rewinding it). The character's "evil" nature brings him into frequent conflict with his "good" counterpart Seymour, and the two are frequently seen exchanging insults. Li'l Evil has also been seen antagonizing Ezekiel and Ariel, and even yelling insults skyward at God, although God doesn't seem to regard him very seriously (once commenting that a tomato thrown up at him "missed"). Despite his idol-worship of a supreme evil, Li'l Evil is primarily a humorous character, and there is little seriousness associated with him. One rare exception is a strip portraying him preparing to commit evil, walking along a street and seeing graffiti, strip clubs and homeless people. His only comment is, "Actually, there isn't much left for me to do." His alarm is shown to go off at 7:06, which is the closest number that a digital clock can read to 666, the number of the devil. (It's 6 minutes after 7:00, which is also written 6:60, making 7:06 6:66)
He is one of the few main comic characters who is shown to own a pet: a baby Cerberus, a three-headed pink puppy (who, like Li'l Evil himself, is very cute and not at all scary or evil-looking).
Usually separate from the world of the characters above is the world of Pooch and Percival (usually called Percy), a dog and cat, respectively. The main characters almost never appear with Pooch and Percy, and when they do there is very little interaction between them.They appear on decorated apparel in various strips; Monique has been shown to own stuffed animals of them.
For the most part, Pooch and Percy strips have clean humor, more like one would expect from a "family" comic. The humor revolves around the nature of cats and dogs, their relationships with each other, with humans, and with nature. There is seldom any vulgar or suggestive humor, although Percy occasionally uses profanity.
Pooch and Percy live in the same household, with an owner (called "master") who is heard and only occasionally seen but only in undetailed profile. It is likely that the "master" is supposed to be Tatsuya Ishida himself, based on evidence from several comics.
Pooch is a stereotypical dog: unquestioningly adoring of his master, endlessly cheerful, and easily pleased. He celebrates at every meal ("Dog food! AGAIN! I am so LOVED!"). He has a ball that he calls "Bally" and loves to play with. Percy always disdains Pooch when he plays with Bally, but has been seen playing with Bally while Pooch is not there. Pooch loves to go outside (both animals are allowed to roam freely outside, unaccompanied) and commune with nature by frolicking in fallen leaves and watching birds and squirrels.
Percy is a stereotypical cat: very cynical, disdainful, solitary and mistrustful. Although he has shown some signs of affection for Pooch, for the most part, he merely tolerates him. He is rarely seen to be cheerful, though he often smiles sarcastically. He has a ball of yarn, called "Yarny", that he plays with, thinking he is a ferocious hunter. However, Yarny usually comes unraveled and Percy becomes hopelessly tangled. Percy often stalks birds, but always fails to catch them. He does kill flies, which puts him in a good mood for some time.
Pooch and Percival strips are fairly frequent, but not among the majority of Sinfest strips. They seem to be a way for Ishida to take a break from his regular characters, and to focus on something more down-to-earth. In earlier strips they were more anthropomorphic; standing on two legs, holding objects in their "hands", but as the series progressed they lost those features.
* Jesus has appeared various points in the strip. In earlier years he would appear very rarely, did not interact with the other characters, and usually appeared to set up a joke or punchline. More recently he has become a more common appearance, mostly interacting with Buddha and the Devil, but not totally separate from the strip's other characters. He is apparently very skilled at basketball, managing to sink a two-pointer even when the devil drop-kicked him.
* Buddha, on the other hand, started appearing in late 2006 and, although he rarely says anything, he does interact with the other characters at various points, usually with the other characters commenting on him. Buddha appears mostly as an alternative point of view to the Judeo-Christian characters (such as one situation where he, both literally and metaphorically, goes directly in between God & the Devil having an argument) much to the confusion or frustration of all. He is depicted as young, slim and usually traveling on a cloud, with the ability to grant nirvana onto people by touching them with a finger. His relationship with the other characters is best described as friendly, but distant - Slick and Squigley often refer to him simply as "Bood".