Arno Alkaloid – Lead Investigator
Arno is the head of Entities-R-Us, Ghost Hunters. He sports his own night-vision monocular that he wears continually just in case he misses something in broad daylight. He is single-minded in his dedication to paranormal investigation. It is all about curiosity and discovery. He is well versed in all the popular lingo associated with the paranormal and has even come up with his own terms and definitions to explain the unexplainable.
Plagued by a touch of overconfidence within the ghost investigation field, Arno often gets himself into sticky situations, especially when dealing with demonic forces. His overconfident Yang in ghost-land is balanced by his under confident Yin in general life situations. A nerd by nature, Arno is off his game when dealing with other topics or in the company of women, especially pretty ones… He’s quite private about his love life or lack thereof. Although secretly, he has a huge crush on one of the “real” Ghost Hunters.
He expects everyone to be just as excited about hauntings as he is – going on and on about various E.V.P.s (electronic voice phenomena), E.M.F. (Electromagnetic field) readings, and assorted apparitions he’s seen lately. His father, Siegfried Alkaloid, CPA, just doesn’t “get” his son. Arno’s search for the paranormal goes well off the belief charts of the average, garden-variety accountant. Consequently, the only bonding Arno and his dad have had was in the building of the rickety tree house which is now headquarters for Entities-R-Us. It is a structure that wreaks of accountant construction prowess. Arno’s lack of confidence seems to stem from parental disapproval. His mommy, Laverne Alkaloid, loves him and bakes him “ghost” cookies in support of his “little hobby”… which Arno considers a career, an underfunded one, but still a career.
This ‘misfit’ has found his niche in society and a way to express his interest in the unexplainable. He seeks to prove what his favorite TV show of all time, In Search Of, did not; ghosts exist. Arno is convinced one day he will learn the truth behind all his curiosities that extend deep into the paranormal including “Nessy” in Loch Ness, the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, Bigfoot and anything they hunt on his second favorite show, Destination Truth (let’s not forget all the rest of the paranormal programs he watches).
Meanwhile, he continues his search and attempts to persuade victims to join in playing his favorite 70’s board game, Bermuda Triangle. Even Merv bails on Ghost Busters movie night… Arno is not to be deterred. He knows his special purpose.
Merv Schwermble – Tech Dept.
Arno would be nowhere without his sidekick, Merv. Merv comes from a background of hooking up sound systems for heavy metal hair bands in the 80’s. He’s technically smart, but a little burnt when it comes to everyday living. Merv is obviously comic relief, though maybe not in Arno’s eyes. Merv was discovered working at a local Radio Shack, after the band Frizz-O-Matic broke up.
It wasn’t like Merv had any interest in ghosts, paranormal or anything unexplainable. He just doesn’t really care about any of that. However, a lot of cool equipment goes together to complete a ghost hunting investigation and that’s what matters most. He is often so engrossed in the technical stuff he misses the full-bodied apparition appearing before him. This is a good thing, because it doesn’t take much to freak him out.
While Merv wasn’t much of a student in school, it was discovered early on he had a knack for putting things together when he plugged his mother’s sewing machine peddle into an outlet and blew out the entire fuse box to the house. Once the fire department cleared out, his mom, Fanny Schwermble, banished him to the tin shed out back with a box of odd wires and some toasted toasters. It was common knowledge in the neighborhood that any explosions were of Merv’s making, that the garden hose was nearby, and Fanny was not about to let any subsequent fires disturb the local community.
There was always talk about where Merv’s father, Walter Schwermble was. No one had seen him since the big explosion in the shed back in 1984. Fanny considered herself a single mom and was quite protective of her only child. She never spoke of Walter, ever. Merv apparently never noticed his dad was missing.
Merv’s obsession with heavy metal music led him to sneak into L’amour’s in Brooklyn. The bouncers got tired of throwing him out, so someone got the bright idea to put him to work. Being a technical whiz, Merv was easily promoted to head sound guy. The night the Frizz-O-Matics played, their sound guy ate a REALLY bad taco and was ruined. Merv was asked to join them on tour. The rest was history until the band was history.
When Merv is not playing tech-guy for Entities-R-Us, he is generally watching MTV or VH1 Classics to brush up on the latest bands just waiting for his chance when the hair bands return to popularity. Otherwise, he watches reruns of Laverne & Shirley, The Adams Family (to brush up on the paranormal for Arno), or Land of the Lost. What the Yeti is to Arno, Sleestacks are to Merv. So much for reality TV with ole Merv.
He’s pretty much happy to live in his technical environment, play a few video games and basically exist.
Erna Eggleston – Psychic Medium
Ghost hunting wouldn’t be complete without a psychic medium. Erna is a top-notched, medium-sized psychic. She is an enlightened being, a practitioner of yoga, and completely at peace with all that is.
Her gift was apparent at the early age of three, when she demonstrated a favorite rude gesture of her Uncle Floyd who passed before she was born. It also was apparent that her “invisible friend” was her spirit guide Ike, who frequently filled her in on things that were about to happen.
Erna can see “dead people.” She’s aware of those most of us are not. She sees Grandma hanging out behind your shoulder. She is sensitive to everyone’s vibration. Yes, she sees auras. She is also very adept at communicating with spirits.
Her parents, convinced of her psychic abilities, sent her to the Arthur Findlay College for Psychic Studies in the U.K. as soon as they would take her at the ripe old age of ten. She was one of those “genius” students who go to college way early and are subjected to hanging out with a much older crowd.
This obviously influenced her “hippie” look. Erna found a home in the post-Woodstock wannabees with their Earth consciousness and vintage 90’s Birkenstocks. She took up Kripalu yoga and practices regularly. Erna believes in living a holistic life. She honors our planet doing her part to use green items while driving her pollution-free, french fry smelling, grease-car. She is convinced it breaks down because of high cholesterol.
Erna’s boyfriend, Woodsworth, is a poet who shares her interest in planet-saving as well as her desires for peace and tranquility. However, he is quite impatient and does not understand how to just ‘be’ in the yogic sense. It’s Erna’s patience that prevails and allows them to be the soulmates they are. She knows they each have a lot to learn from one another.
It’s this learning experience that prompts Erna to join up with Entities-R-Us. You would think Erna would find the goofball ghost hunters and the demon removal guy spiritually prosaic. But, she considers them amusingly unenlightened and is sure that one day they will get there. It’s all one big learning experience.
Erna is asked by Arno to team up with this bunch to help sort out any paranormal maladies the crew may suffer. Having a psychic on board makes ghost hunting a bit more fruitful and the crossing of viewpoints quite entertaining.
Vlad – Demonologist
When it comes to getting rid of ghosts, the guys at Entities-R-Us really have no solid solutions to offer. They are all about detection, not ejection. However, they often refer clients to their staff demonologist, Vlad. Vlad is a freaky guy that shows up with his high-collared priestly outfit over his shorts and sneakers. He often carries a cross and some holy water just in case. He has a well worn tome of Latin quotes he uses as incantations. He flips through for one to recite at random. His results vary. Usually the ghost never leaves… unless it gets so annoyed by repeated visits from Vlad, it decides just to go “home” on its own or join the neighbors.
Vlad claims to trace his lineage back to the infamous Vlad Dracul or “Dracula” as he is popularly referred to. His credibility lies in ‘genetics’, which in his mind gives him special abilities to detect, deflect and dislodge demons. The demons, he claims, recognize his lineage and ‘fear’ him.
Fear is Vlad’s secret weapon for existing in the world. He likes to be untouchable. It beats interacting… Even as a kid Vlad was anti-social. He’d refuse to work in groups and would regularly wear his ‘cranky-pants’ on the playground. Teachers would relent and allow Vlad to whither away his time in the library reading about ghosts, nymphs, fairies and demons. His strict Catholic upbringing enhanced his belief in the naughty end of the supernatural. Yes, his favorite movie is The Exorcist. Vlad is also convinced the Amityville Horror was NOT a fake.
In 1990, Vlad graduated from The University of Voodoo in New Orleans with a BS in Demonology, minoring in Boggarts and Gnomes. Vlad’s career began overzealously, actually attracting demons to his local church. He was subsequently excommunicated.
Essentially a demonologist out of a job, he managed to secure a position building evil looking creatures for B horror movies of today. His understanding of the truly frightening and the gross makes him one of the top monster schlocks of the industry. Those movie producers who can’t afford special effects come to Vlad for answers to their scariest questions.
With the advent of Entities-R-Us, Vlad now has side work in his chosen career. It may not pay the bills, but it’s wicked cool.
Vera Angmar – Investigator in Training
Vera joined Entities-R-Us, Ghost Hunters in the Spring of 2009 as an investigator in training. Vera is good with equipment and not easily spooked – traits that are prized by a paranormal team. However, Vera has a bit of an anger management issue.
In order to feed her egotistic crabbiness, Vera has evolved into an energy vampire. She doesn’t consciously seek to drain her compatriots. She wears them rather thin, and then becomes irritated by their lack of enthusiasm. Vera also tends to suck the life out of all the batteries during investigations. This is a huge drawback and one of the many reasons she has not risen above training level. When she’s around, any battery-drain situations cannot be labeled as paranormal since it is highly likely to be Veranormal.
The main source of Vera’s resentment comes from her being a Wiccan. She is dedicated to her pagan beliefs. She is also on the lookout for possible persecution. Witches have been given a hard time for thousands of years and Vera has vowed to avenge all of it. Anyone hinting a snicker is going to be nailed to the cross, burned at the stake and boiled in oil. She wastes most of her aggravation on Merv who often instigates her aggressive nature because he finds it amusing… until she retaliates in her usual excessive manner.
Ironically, because she’s a Wiccan, Vera seems to have a calming effect on nature spirits or elementals. She is the only one who can manage the infestation of Imps in the office. This is a relief to Arno, who has had no relief since these mischievous beings showed up. Vera is also adept at salt circles and other modes of protection from evil spirits. She also sports her divining rods and other unique ways of detecting spirit activity.
Vera tends to be a bit self absorbed. She isn’t aware of her impact on those around her, nor is she cognizant of their feelings. She is acutely aware of her own feelings… and most of them are not positive.
On paranormal investigations, Vera is relatively fearless. She will stand her ground with the worst of spiritual nasties. She is the last to run from anything. She won’t let anything stand in the way of getting evidence, even if it means watching a teammate get shredded by demonic forces.
Whatever happened in Vera’s childhood that led up to her callous behavior is unknown. She never mentions coming from anywhere. For all we know, she just appeared in this comic strip (which is fairly accurate).
Vera came to me when I needed an energy vampire to drain the Entities-R-Us battery supply. I had no intention of making her a regular character. However, I was intrigued by her magenta hair… Then I had a request from Gene Lafferty of Buckeye State Paranormal Haunting Investigations to do a comic for his monthly newsletter, BSPHI. He wanted one about Wicca. So, Vera became a Wiccan and the rest is history.
Vera adds that youthful female angst to the male dominated aspect of ERU. Erna is much too centered to want to drop to a lower energy. Let’s face it, people with a healthy amount of negativity are a lot funnier! Vera just tips the centered female aspect of the comic right over.
Ouija Nite – Carl & Thor
Alas, guys night out for ghost hunters… Every Thursday night, Arno, Merv and Vlad get together for a little spiritual indulgence known as Ouija Nite. Erna, like any good girlfriend, mom or sister, refuses to join in such illicit activities.
It is well documented using Ouija boards is dangerous and irresponsible causing all sorts of stupid things to happen; just like over-indulgence in alcohol is dangerous and irresponsible causing all sorts of stupid things to happen.
Since Ouija attracts a myriad of spirits and entities, especially the riffraff kind, anything can happen and anything can show up. Arno, Merv and Vlad are unaware of the other two regulars for Ouija Nite, Carl and Thor.
Carl and Thor are a couple of ghosts who have figured out they have a place to go for entertainment every Thursday. It’s quite a hoot for them to terrorize, miscommunicate, and start ruckuses with these three each week. Sometimes they invite their friends…
Ouija Nite is a good running gag that appears on Thursdays. It’s something to look forward to, like cartoonist’s night out. Read the police blotters the next day… someone has surely gotten into deep doody.
These mischievous little creatures followed Arno and his investigative team home one night after a major hunt in an ancient Irish castle. They apparently were attracted by all the fancy equipment and managed to sequester themselves in the luggage.
The ride home was pretty hairy… The plane nearly went down due to instrument freak-out. It turns out the imps went on a rampage in the cockpit. The pilot retired after that flight and was never heard or seen again. It was told he couldn’t face the inquiry and the rumors that little black goggle-eyed creatures were terrorizing him and his copilot; so he bolted for an unknown location in South America that was so remote the inhabitants were unfamiliar with umbrella drinks. The copilot was forced to retire after he went on the talk show circuit discussing goggle-eyed aliens… That airline is now out of business. Rumor has it the plane was bought by another carrier and is still in circulation terrorizing passengers today.
Meanwhile, the imps hooked up with Arno and the crew taking up residence at Entities-R-Us headquarters. Here they were free to goof off, start trouble and basically make complete nuisances of themselves. No amount of exorcism, shooing or flyswatters could run them off. They are having way too much fun for the common imp. Besides, Merv and Arno make great targets for imp practical jokes. As humorists, these critters can’t possibly pass up such an amazing opportunity.
What is an imp? Folklore has it they are mythological critters that are not inherently dangerous but very much a pain in the posterior. It is rumored they are fond of music. The Entities imps prefer the dulcet tones of Ozzy, Nugent, def Leppard, Zappa… much of Merv’s play list. It is said you can store an imp in an artifact such as crystal or a vial and you can summon them out whenever the situation calls for one. They were very popular with alchemists in the middle-ages.
The alchemist Paracelsus had his own personal imp. This imp moved on after his death and now is part of the group shacked up in the Entities headquarters.
Ms. Henpeck – Ghost
The ghost of Ms. Henpeck haunts headquarters at Entities-R-Us. Ms. Henpeck was formerly Arno’s evil kindergarten teacher. Behind her horned rimmed glasses, her beady little eyes were on Arno, the biggest irritation in her entire hated school teaching career.
His annoying questions about the supernatural, scary show-and-tells and blatant nerdiness drove her over her already maddening edge. It was her threat to “haunt the crap outta him” after she was gone that stuck with Arno all through his childhood… fearing someone he wouldn’t have minded dead in the first place would actually die and NEVER be gone from his sorry life. And that is EXACTLY what happened.
Ole Henpeck found him immediately when she crossed from a fatal heart attack that was induced by a student’s accurate depiction in finger paint of the tattoo on her left… [This is a family program!!!]
She, true to her word, has been pestering Arno ever since. The old childhood fears grip him when she appears brandishing a ruler and mean looks from those horn-rimmed glasses that float just below the manifestation of a uptight bun of a hairdo.
Exorcism is out, she’s not leaving anytime soon. Vlad can’t take her, she scares him too. EVPs have offered up quite a colorful batch of ghostly commentary… Mostly, Henpeck relegates herself to discipline. Anyone out of line gets it. She’s attracted to errors, mistakes and stupidity. Of course, there is loads of that going on at headquarters.