List of characters in Circles
The characters of Circles are drawn as anthropomorphic animals; this, as the creators have indicated, is purely a visual device. As Andrew French put it in an interview with the Gay League of America:
"... we made a conscious decision: these characters are human beings, seen through a "Furry" lens. You'll never hear one of them complain about his tail being stuck, or about how hard it is to keep his fur groomed. Our skunk will never spray anyone. Our one concession was to make Taye, the kangaroo, a vegetarian. All the other characters are animals that are carnivores or omnivores."
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
- 1 Major characters
- 2 Minor characters
- 3 Miscellaneous characters
- 4 Flashback characters
Paul "Paulie" Mayhew
Drawn as a dog (possibly a Golden Retriever, but he has certain features common to other dog breeds as well, so this is unknown). At age 52 at the beginning of the series, Paulie is by far the oldest character. He acts as a sort of patriarch of the Kinsey Gang, a father figure who considers everyone in the house a member of his family. He refers to nearly everyone as "Dear" (an uncommon habit among British gay men—though he is part American too). He does not work, having inherited an undisclosed amount of money from his mother's side of the family (Doug often refers to him as "idle rich"). He is the long-time self-proclaimed husband of Douglas Pope, with whom he inhabits the top floor of the Kinsey Circle house.
Paulie was born in England, to a British father of Scottish lineage and an American mother who was a naturalized citizen. He grew up in England in the 60s, raised primarily by his father and his Aunt Bettina, who moved in following his mother's passing. Along with his first boyfriend, a slightly older boy named Colin, he became a huge fan of the Beatles, and little Beatle-isms find their way into Paulie's dialogue from time to time.
He moved to America in the early 70s and took up residence with his mother's sister in Boston. After her passing, he became increasingly involved in the gay scene, thanks to his involvement with John Brockhurst. Through John, he also became romantically involved with Arthur Korsky, and to a young man by the name of Keith. When a friend of Paulie's by the name of Graham killed himself after being diagnosed with AIDS, he decided he was going to withdraw from his more promiscuous lifestyle to protect himself. At his "going away" party, Arthur hooked up with Keith, and the three of them went home together. Back home, Arthur passed out, Keith made a move on Paulie, and an inebriated Paulie decided that one last fling couldn't hurt. Through this liaison, Paulie became HIV positive.
After a period of shock and mourning, Paulie emerged from his grief and began to try to do things with the considerable wealth he'd inherited from his mother's family. He made donations to various charities, gave to local schools, helped friends get started in business (including John, who bought a gay-themed bookstore called Triangle Books), and started obtaining medicines and treatments to defer the long-term effects of his HIV. He was asked to lecture at several of the schools he'd donated to on safe sex, and at such a lecture at Harvard University, he met Douglas Pope. He began a relationship with Doug several months later, and the two have been together ever since. Recently, he has also become an "Uncle" to Doug's son, Jason.
In Issue #7, his confrontation with Ken over the latter's visible injuries (at the hands of an abusive bull named "Bo") prompted the cheetah to move out; in Issue #8, we (and Ken) find out that, three months on, Paulie has not rented the room or removed Ken's belongings. When asked why, he told the stunned Ken, "I don't give up on my family that easily".
In Issue#11, the disease finally starts to take effect on him, making him achy and gaunt, and eventually had to go to a hospital, and he officially passes away in Issue #12. The next and final Issue #13 is the only one where he doesn't appear in.
Many of the comic's stories begin from Paulie's point of view, in the form of journal entries. It is indicated that Paulie wants to leave them behind when he dies for Douglas to read, so that he may remember their time together.
Paulie represents a lot of the heart of the comic, and a recent poll shows him as the favorite character of fans of the series. His combination of quiet reliability, love for the family he has created, and the pain of his past mistake seems to have struck a chord with those who enjoy this series.
Paulie was a fan of the Beatles in their heyday ("I grew up in England in the Sixties. The Beatles were my band.") and owns many first-pressing records, among them what aoppears to be an autographed copy of the White Album, signed by all four Beatles. (This fact greatly impressed Jason, of course.)
Drawn as a river otter. Doug Pope is one of the more conflicted characters in the series, having a tendency to follow his passions and to let his feelings get the better of him. He is 32, working as a financial consultant for a company in Boston. He is the long-standing self-proclaimed husband of Paulie Mayhew and the father and surviving parent of Jason Pope.
Doug was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to upper middle-class parents. His childhood has been described as being largely uneventful, although he admits to having feelings for men at even a fairly young age. After enrolling in Harvard Business School, he met a young woman named Linda and became study partners with her, as well as romantically entangled with her. Upon meeting Paulie at a safe-sex lecture, however, he became increasingly drawn towards Paulie, despite being engaged to Linda.
When Paulie rejected his advances, showing no desire to be the "other woman" in Doug's relationships, Doug, confused and stung by Paulie's rejection, stormed to Linda's dorm room and had unprotected sex with her. This confused him even more, and he withdrew from everyone for a time, finally coming to the conclusion over a boiling pot of noodles that Paulie was the person he wanted to be with. He had a very painful break-up with Linda, who did not tell him that she was now pregnant with their child. He and Paulie reconciled and have been together ever since. Linda eventually told Doug about the birth of their son, Jason, and he attempted to make some contact with Jason, occasionally visiting them in Maine.
When Arthur Korsky returned to Kinsey Circle, it created awkwardness, and when Doug learned that Arthur was indirectly responsible (at least in his mind) for getting Paulie infected, it drove a wedge between them. After the events of September 11, 2001 (this was added later. The original script, according to Andrew French, did not have this reference), and learning of Linda's death in an accident with a drunk driver, Doug, suddenly a single parent, let his emotions build, until a confrontation with Arthur almost drove Paulie to leave him. The threat of losing Paulie finally broke Doug's defenses down, and he apologized to Arthur for the anger he'd been carrying. Several months later, he decided to take responsibility for his son, and, after a custody battle with Linda's parents, brought Jason home to Boston to live. Despite some awkward moments, Jason revealed that both he and his late mother rather liked Paulie for inadvertently encouraging Doug to come out, preventing Linda and him from entering a loveless marriage. Only time will tell how things turn out between them all, but the indications have been positive.
In Issue #13, after Paulie passed on, Doug became the owner of the house, and later began writing in Paulie's journals with the intention of having them read by Jason in the future.
Drawn as a dog-like bear. Arthur is in his mid-40s, the second oldest of the Kinsey Six, just after Paulie. He is self-employed as an artist, freelance graphic designer, and occasional handyman. He lives in the finished basement of the Kinsey Circle house, having decorated it in what he refers to as Tiki chic. He has also made part of the basement his art studio. He is responsible for the majority of the house's interior color/design, and often refers to the basement as his "Art Cave."
There has not yet been an issue centering around Arthur's backstory, but we do know that he was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He must have moved to Boston sometime in the mid to late seventies and became romantically involved with both John Brockhurst and Paulie Mayhew. He blamed himself for Paulie's HIV infection, as Keith had come home that night with the intention of being with Arthur. It was only after Arthur, very drunk, passed out, that Keith turned his attentions on Paulie. He left the house for New York after discovering Paulie had become infected by Keith, but it's not known what he did there, although he did say that he attended many funerals of people he knew who died of AIDS. He returned to Boston and the Kinsey Circle house in the late 90s, and his guilty attitude helped fuel Doug's belief that he was responsible for Paulie's illness. They have only recently begun to reconcile, but Arthur has gotten involved with more charity work through Doug, and the two of them seem to have at least one thing in common: a great love for Paulie.
As of Issue #7, Arthur's old flame with John Brockhurst has been rekindled, leading the two to a very close relationship. In Issue #11, he starts infatuating toward Marty, though this horrified Arthur as Marty already had a relationship with Taye, even though Marty was infatuating back. Marty, after being pushed to by John, snatches a kiss on Arthur, who was completely caught by surprised, and while he liked it, he pushed Marty away for both their sakes and Taye's, and was enraged at John for encouraging it. Thankfully, the two made amends and stay a couple, and Taye doesn't blame any of them at all.
In Issue #13, he moves out to live with John, leaving his abode for Ken and Michael.
Kenneth "Ken" Brassai
Drawn as a cheetah. If everyone in the house seems to embody a stereotype of the animal that represents them, then Ken's embodiment is that he's fast and fickle. Little is known about Ken, as he hasn't had an issue of his own yet (though it was revealed in the letters to the writers section in issue 7 that issue 9 will be about him), but he's known for making and breaking relationships with amazing speed. Within the course of the first 4 comics (a year in the comic), it became evident that he was with at least 5 different people, though we can safely assume the number was larger than that. He works as a model, often naked, and works out quite a bit, both at home and at a gym. He is 24, and he lives on the second floor of the Kinsey Circle house.
So far, Ken has mostly acted as a foil for the other characters, although there is the promise of a future storyline that will help explain his behavior. He has problems with jealousy and seems to dislike people who cling to him. Ken prefers the fun of a few one night stands to the emotional depth of a relationship. Ken's relationship with Michael Lang (noted by the rest of the characters to be the longest relationship he's ever had), which began in Issue #4, was over in the beginning of Issue #7, as Ken began a relationship with "Bo", an abusive, possessive sadist with a fondness for whips and leather. As a result of a confrontation with Paulie over his visible injuries, Ken moved out of the Kinsey house to live with "Bo".
As of Issue #8, Ken began chafing under Bo's restrictions, which kept him isolated in his "master's" house. This eventually came to actual blows (on top of the regular beatings) when Bo's condom slipped off and he proceeded to have sex with Ken without protection. After realizing this, Ken discovers that Bo has been seeing other men behind his back (which is made worse when it's revealed he was seeing multiple men at the same time behind Ken's back, even having sex with all of them at the same time). This was too much for Ken; a fight began, culminating in a flashback to the male cheetah, looking up at Ken and saying. "What's'a matter wit'choo, boy?" Ken, overwhelmed, folded into a corner; when next seen, he had a bloody nose, black eye, and bruised (possibly fractured) ribs.
Ken has since moved back to Kinsey house, with rent held in abeyance by Paulie "until you get back on your feet". A call from his doctor indicates (possibly) that Ken remains negative for the HIV virus; his tearful breakdown at the news has yet to be explained in-comic.
Fan speculation considers the possibility that the male cheetah seen in flashback may be Ken's father, and that Ken came from an abusive family relationship. The late arriving novelized issue #9 confirmed that he did have an abusive relative, but it was Uncle Davis, not his father (his father apparently left him and his mother when he was four). Davis had sexually abused him until Ken was seventeen, where he wounded his uncle and fearing imprisonment for assaulting a war-veteran, ran away to Boston. He was so traumatized that he only wanted to keep a relationship short-lived, believing that the longer the relationship lasts, the greater the danger he would be abused again. He even believed Paulie was just as bad, despite the great amount of trust Ken has for him, so much so that Paulie was the first Ken became open towards about his uncle. He also thought being gay was a bad thing, but accepted it over time.
In Issue #13, he moves into Arthur's old room after Arthur decided to move in with John, and Ken had Michael move in with him.
Taylor "Taye" Dooley
Drawn as an Eastern Grey Kangaroo. The best way to describe Taye is as a force of nature (as quoted directly from the creators themselves). Intensely affectionate, bold to the point of being forward, and seemingly unafraid to take any action, Taye has, nevertheless, mostly been defined so far by his relationship to Marty. He is 23, recently graduated from Boston University, and lives with Marty on the ground floor of the Kinsey Circle house. He is an actor, having understudied for Angel in the local touring company of Rent. He currently works as a waiter in a French restaurant called La Maison du Chanteur (House of the Singer) where all the waiters sing. (Note that this restaurant is fictional, although there are several restaurants that share the same idea. The "Bravo" chain of restaurants, for example, often employ opera singers of young voice students as waiters, to perform arias, scenes, duets and quartets from operas).
His nature was kept largely a secret to people who were being introduced to Circles. The previews of the comic did not contain images of him, only references, and he does not appear until close to the end of issue #1. His build up climaxes in an appearance that the writer has described as a tribute to the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson in the original Spider-Man comics. He and Marty shared an immediate attraction to one another which continued to grow as they became roommates and has culminated in their becoming a couple.
Taye seems to have an irrepressible nature, saying rather outrageous things at times. He also seems to be an extremely patient and gentle individual, submitting to Marty's desire to wait on actual sex for months after they began dating. Their new relationship tends to book-end the old "married" relationship nature of Paulie and Doug. Born in Sydney, Australia, Taye's family moved to America when he was only five. His father, an electrician by trade, introduced him to the theatre (having been called in to handle some wiring), and Taye has loved the stage ever since, as revealed in Issue #8. Although he did not attend Julliard (as he had hoped), he was cast in every production he tried out for in college. Because of this, his beginnings of an acting career came as a rude awakening; he had gone from being (in his own words) "a big fish in a little pond" to being one of hundreds of aspiring drama students. This, as with many actors, is what prompted him to get a day job as a singing waiter, although he still tries out for parts as they become available.
As of Issue #8, Taye has been accepted for the part of "Mother's Younger Brother" in a touring company of the musical Ragtime. Though hesitant to take the part due to the nine-month absence that would ensue, he was reassured by Marty (who prepared a romantic dinner that Taye was almost too distracted to enjoy) that their relationship will not suffer.
While Taye reacted badly to Ken's accusation (in Issue #2) of being a "chubby chaser" (a person attracted to fat people), he has made it plain that he enjoys Marty's chubby build, and calls him "Teddy Bear". In Issue #11, Marty and Arthur began falling for each other against their wills, and Taye, upon returning to home, had noticed their unease. He was able to deduce something had gone on between Marty and Arthur, but doesn't hold it against either, and made amends with Marty after seeing is apology-letter.
Martin "Marty" Miller
Drawn as a common striped Skunk. Marty is the last of the primary Kinsey Circle characters. The preview comic released in 2000 centers upon Marty's learning of a house that was looking for a tenant, and issue #1 features Marty's introduction to the other characters. He acts as an audience surrogate in that first appearance. He is 20 when the series starts and is a student at Boston College. Although he studies business, his real love is in working on computer video games and has aspirations of becoming a programmer. Marty is overweight but is (mostly) comfortable with his weight, and Taye, his boyfriend, prefers this look. Marty's family is Jewish, but his family is relaxed about observance with the exception of his grandmother. She is strictly kosher.
Marty and Taye's relationship is a primary storyline of the first four issues. They met in issue #1, Marty declared his interest to his family in issue #2, they kissed for the first time in issue #3, and they had sex for the first time (offscreen, not on the panel in comic terms) in issue #4. Thereafter, the book has been focusing more on the other characters of the series. Marty has gotten along well with all the other characters, although some issues of jealousy over Taye caused friction between him and Ken for a bit. Marty is out to his family as of issue #2, and they are accepting of his and Taye's relationship with only his grandmother displaying disapproval.
In Issue #11, he begins having feelings for Arthur, who was reciprocating, but resented it as he didn't want to cheat on Taye. Nevertheless after being goaded by John, Marty does steal a kiss on Arthur, only to regret it. Marty later apologized to Taye (or more accurately wrote it) and remains faithful.
In addition to his talents on the computer, Marty is also a skilled cook, a talent he says he developed in self defense; his mother, he says (in Issue #1) is uninterested in cooking, and his father only cooks macaroni and cheese.
Drawn as an American Badger first appearing in the Circles #0 preview. The owner of Triangle Books, a gay-themed bookstore in Boston. He is old friends with Paulie and Arthur, having been romantically involved with them together as a triad during the 70s. He's very perceptive about people's actions (as demonstrated in issue #4, when he and Ken were discussing the Hanukkah gift Ken had given to Marty).
In Issues #6 and #7, it's revealed that John tried many times to bring the HIV-positive Paulie out of his self-imposed shell, to the point that Paulie funded the startup of Triangle Books just to give him another project. In Issue #11, he tried to get Marty and Arthur together, and while both started having feelings for each other, they knew it would be cheating on Taye: Marty was particularly ashamed and Arthur was outraged at John for encouraging it. John later felt guilty for it, but Arthur forgives him.
Mrs. Esther Nussbaum
Drawn as a Grey squirrel first appearing in issue #2. She lives a few houses away from the boys and speaks in a rather Old-World accent. She and Paulie are old friends, having both lived in the neighborhood longer than almost anyone else. She has a playfully antagonistic relationship with Doug, and they often trade recipes with each other. Despite how they treat each other, she and Doug are very good friends. She cooks foods in incredibly large portions. In issue #10, she reveals that she has a grandson who was assumed to be gay and harassed because of it, and he tried to committ suicide. As a result she greatly resents homophobes like Carter Allen.
Drawn as a Red Fox first mentioned in issue #2, but first appearing in issue #3. He bears no relationship to the local Boston D.J. He is the father of two children who seem to have mixed feelings on the Kinsey Circle household. Carter Allen, himself, is quite resentful of the Kinsey Gang and tries to steer his sons away from their household at all costs. In issue #10, he even tried to turn the whole neighborhood against them, but it didn't work, and even his wife and kids like them. Despite his resentment, even he was saddened about Paulie's death, and nowadays has became more accepting of the remaining Kinsey-boys.
Drawn as a field mouse first appearing in issue #4. Very little has been revealed of him since his introduction. He has been in a 6 month relationship with Ken since they met. It may be safe to assume (by the way he greeted Ken for the first time) that the two are very similar. Ken however broke up with him to be with Bo, which became a mistake, but in issue #9 Ken apologized and explained his reason for dumping Mike, who forgave him and they later got back together. In Issue #13, he moves into the Kinsey-house.
Drawn as a river otter first appearing in issue #6. He is Doug and Linda's son. Although the relationship between him and his "Uncle Paulie" started off rocky, a mutual enjoyment of The Beatles brought them closer together. A true whiz at Dance Dance Revolution. His birth was probably accidental since he was conceived before Doug and Linda had married, and Linda kept him a secret from Doug until Jason was five-years-old, and he and Doug didn't meet face-to-face until Jason was eight. It is unknown what Jason's past was like, but he never hated his father or Paulie for being fatherless back then, though his grandparents seemed less forgiving toward Douglas as they tried to take custody of Jason after Linda died. While Jason has nothing against gayness, living among Doug and his gay friends has made Jason a target for homophobic-bullies in his school, and some assume he is gay himself, which he isn't.
In Issue #12, he starts a relationship with a girl named Becky Barbarino (presumably another otter).
- Bo: An abusive bull with a taste for leather, whose beating left Ken bloodied and battered in Issue #8. Upon attempting to go into the Kinsey house afterwards, he was turned back by the combined presence of Douglas, Arthur and John; the two large "bears" (in the gay sense of the word) provided enough physical presence to give him pause while Douglas informed him that if he tried to enter the Kinsey house, not only would he be beaten himself, but he would then be slapped with a lawsuit on the charge of harassment by a female friend of his because she hates bullies. Though after Bo leaves, it's revealed that Douglas was bluffing.
- Kathy: A feline involved in the same community projects as Doug and Arthur. She is very kind.
- Roger: Taye's ex, a ferret, and a very jealous bully, which is why Taye broke up with him. He tries to beat up Marty, but is shot down by "First-Class Angel" Taye Dooley.
- Marc: A horse, and a bouncer at the club, "Paradise Island". He is friends with Taye and takes his job very seriously.
- Jesús: A llama drag queen, and a very close friend of Taye's. He is considered (at least by the fans of the comic) very sweet, and tries to steal Marty away for himself for a while.
- David: A mouse who works out with Ken and Gus. He is small, and has a loose tongue, but is watched out for by his gym buddies.
- Gus: A lesbian wolf who works out with Ken and David. She is very large and powerful, and is best known for beating up on a mouthy gym-goer homophobe by the name of Mac.
- Marty's Parents: Obviously, his mother and father. They showed up for dinner one weekend, and upon driving Marty temporarily insane, learned of his homosexuality. They had a bet on whether or not he really was gay (Marty's father lost; he was hoping Marty was bisexual, so that he could still have grandchildren).
- Marty's Siblings: His brothers and sisters. He has a younger brother and a younger sister, who helped him move in, and an older brother (Alex) who graduated BU at the same time Taye did. Little is known about them.
- Marty's Grandmother: The deciding factor in Marty's coming out explosion. Her suddenly showing up and pestering Marty about a girlfriend pushed him over the edge. Her first name is "Francine."
- Midge: A large man who meets Paulie and Marty at a gay club in Issue 10. The narrator takes his perspective for the scene. He points out two "hotties" (Doug and Taye) and proposes an idea to Paulie and Marty that only hot people can get with other hot people. Paulie counters with the idea that there's a counterpart for everyone regardless, changing Midge's perspective entirely.
- Linda: A river otter Doug was involved with in college. She was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver sometime around the incidents of September 11, 2001. While she was upset with Douglas for choosing Paulie over her, she didn't seem to hate Paulie at all, though she didn't seem quick to forgive Doug, as she kept Jason's birth a secret from him for years, only informing him when Jason was five and finally letting them meet when Jason was eight. Even so, according to Jason, Linda felt Doug deserved to be with Paulie more than with her, though her parents were less forgiving than she was as they tried to compete for custody over Jason after her death. Thankfully, Jason himself has nothing against Doug or Paulie.
- Graham: A rabbit more commonly referred to as "Gingersnap", but referred to earlier in the narrative as Greg. A friend of Paulie's from the 70s. He killed himself when he was diagnosed with AIDS.
- Keith: A tiger who was friends with Paulie in the 70s. After Paulie's "wake," he, Paulie, and Arthur retreated to the Kinsey house. After a failed attempt to get it on with Arthur (who passed out drunk), Keith turned his sights to Paulie. Keith later called Paulie on the phone to tell him he had tested positive, and that Paulie should get tested too. No one says what happened to Keith after that. It was from him that Paulie contracted HIV.
- Davis: This individual, as yet unnamed, appears in Issue #8 as Ken Brassai's flashback. He is sitting on the floor in the room full of empty bottles and beer cans, bloodied (much like Bo at that moment, thus prompting the flashback), looks up at Ken and says, "What's'a matter wit'choo, boy?" While no evidence is provided, the fact that he is drawn as a cheetah may indicate that he is Ken's father or uncle, just as Marty's parents are drawn as striped skunks. The late arriving novelized issue #9 gives him the name Davis, and he was an uncle. According to Ken, Davis was a "troubled" individual who went to the military to cure himself, and though this worked, it wasn't permanent. Ken's maternal grandmother (who's Davis' and Ken's mother's parent) was well aware of Davis' state and cautioned Ken about it. At first Davis was polite and even caring toward Ken, who saw him as a father, but then Davis sexually harassed Ken, and Ken, though eleven at the time, took enjoyment in it, even though it made him feel wrong. Davis also made Ken keep it a secret for a few years, and when Ken reached sexual-maturity at age thirteen, Davis began sexually abusing Ken, and Ken did not take kindly to it, and it was here that his gayness came to fruition. Ken became rather negative though, and while he didn't enjoy it, he continued accepting the abuse until he discovered one of his childhood-friends also got harassed. That was the last straw for Ken: he began to object to Davis' abuse, but Davis disregarded it. Even so, Ken had taken up boxing lessons to eventually put a stop to it. When Ken was seventeen, he fought back and slashed Davis on the cheek with a knife, which made him ask the same thing Bo had asked. Ken chose to runaway after that, and Davis was caught red-handed and sent to prison. Amazingly though, his actions toward Ken disgusted even inmates, and they killed him because of it.
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