New Reader Guide

Out There is written primarily for adults. It’s a little racier than most syndicated comic strips, and far tamer than just about anything on network television. If you’re a parent who’s concerned about Out There’s suitability for your young ’un, read a few weeks worth—you’ll get the idea. If it were a movie, it would probably be rated PG.


Much of Out There takes place in Portstown, a fictional Northeastern coastal metropolis. A good bit of the action is centered at Sherry’s bar, a medium-sized dive situated in a part of town that has yet to experience much in the way of urban renewal. But Out There isn’t about locales—it’s about characters. Hey, let’s meet them all now!


Full name: Miriam Murphy… also known as “Mir”… around 30 years old… bartender, works at Sherry’s and two other bars, also cleans houses (Araceli’s and Clayton’s)… involved with Clayton… Sherry’s best friend… also close friends with John, Araceli, Clayton, Steven, Chuck, and Rod… has dated Steven, Chuck, Rod, and Wally… is or has also been interested in John, Araceli, and Greg… lives with Araceli… In a nutshell: an ultra-hedonist with an addictive personality—big on alcohol, tobacco, and affairs of the body, if not the heart… addicted, more than anything else, to attention… occasionally feels unfulfilled by these predilections; inconsistent in her desire to do something about it.


Full name: Sherry Wieczorek… also known as “Sher”… around 30 years old… owns her own bar… Chuck’s wife… Miriam’s best friend… also close friends with John, Araceli, Steven, and James… dated Steven (romantically) and John (platonically)… was also interested (very briefly) in Rod… lives with Chuck, in an apartment above the bar. In a nutshell: a former “Miriam”, but she outgrew it… dedicated to the success of her business and her relationship with her fiancée… is a notoriously poor secret-keeper… changes her hairstyle and hair color more often than most.


Full name: Araceli Mendoza… also known as “Ari”… mid-20’s… attorney, works at Rod’s firm… close friends with James, Rod, Miriam, Sherry, John, and Clayton… has dated Rod and James… is or has also been interested in Sherry (obsessively) and Miriam… lives with Miriam. In a nutshell: a romantic; longs for a committed, fulfilling relationship, preferably with a woman… unfortunately she’s awkward and shy around women, and is noticebly more confident in the company of men.


Full name: unknown… age unknown… bartender and cook; works for Sherry… also volunteers at a homeless shelter… close friends with Miriam, Sherry, Araceli, and James… dated Sherry platonically… lives with James. In a nutshell: the guy everyone likes… comes off as extraordinarily moral and humble, is quiet and unobtrusive enough about it so as not to seem obnoxious… is apparently celibate… has been known to let his beard and hair grow wild, also has shaved his head… by his own admission, cares little about his appearance… puts a strong emphasis on serving others.


Full name: Craig Clayton… around 40 years old… works at a warehouse near the docks… involved with Miriam… close friends with Miriam and James… is or has also been interested in Sherry (primarily), Araceli, and Martha… lives alone. In a nutshell: an apparently talented though commercially unsuccessful writer of fiction and poetry, which he keeps a secret from everyone except Miriam (she discovered it accidentally)… seems to care little what people think of him… not entirely honest… a barfly’s barfly.


Full name: unknown… around 30 years old… bartender, works for SherryChuck’s best friend… also close friends with Araceli, Clayton, John, and Sherry… dated Araceli… is or has also been interested in Miriam… lives with John. In a nutshell: usually comes off as selfish and abrasive; his warmer side occasionally emerges in the company of Araceli or John… has a too-cool, above-it-all demeanor that most people probably see through.


Full name: Steven Strøm… Sherry calls him “Stevie”… mid-30’s… employed, details unknown… close friends with Sherry and Miriam… dated Sherry, Miriam, and Carolyn… lives alone. In a nutshell: a popular and charismatic local rock musician, he has a roving eye and is often in a position to capitalize on it… has trouble with commitment, while sometimes claiming to be ready for it.


Full name: Charles Harris… around 30 years old… employed, details unknown except that he works in an office… Sherry’s husband… James’ best friend… also close friends with Miriam… dated Miriam… lives with Sherry. In a nutshell: a decent guy, he can easily fade into the background, especially amongst the strong personalities with whom he keeps company… this sometimes gets him branded as dull.


Full name: unknown… around 40 years old… successful attorney, partner in his firm… close friends with Araceli and Miriam… dated Araceli and Miriam… has also been interested in Sherry… lives alone. In a nutshell: always on the prowl, differs from Steven in that he makes no pretense of wanting a relationship (single exception: Araceli)… has few admirable traits aside from a fierce loyalty to his close friends.

Other locales

The following are minor- to semi-major characters who live in various locales outside our “hometown” of Portstown:


Full name: Martha Murphy… late 40’s… employed, details unknown… Miriam’s mom… close friends with Sherry… is or has also been interested in Clayton… lives alone, somewhere in California… In a nutshell: in her twenties she was a widow, a single mom, a stripper, on the promiscuous side, and an alcoholic… when she found God she gave up stripping and toned down the promiscuity but continued drinking… highly critical of her own performance as a mother, her daughter usually allows that she did pretty okay under the circumstances.

Wally and Rebecca

Full names: Walter and Rebecca Green… Miriam and Martha always call him “Walter”… both are around 30 years old… he’s a Major League Baseball player whose star is beginning to fade, she’s a housewife who does a lot of volunteer charity work… married since their early twenties… close friends with Miriam… Wally dated Miriam… they live in a large home in the suburbs of Arch City. In a nutshell: the quieter Wally tends to allow the strong-willed Rebecca to steer the ship… his philandering resulted in a rocky beginning to their marriage, but upon gaining a little maturity and perspective, he successfully changed his ways… Rebecca, faithful since the beginning, has bouts of yearning, but has yet to stray.

Greg and Ginny

Full names: unknown… he’s in his mid-20’s, she’s in her early 20’s… employment situation unknown… close friends with Dave and Danielle… Greg is or has also been interested in Miriam… they live alone, separately. In a nutshell: his online friendship with Miriam is a source of tension for this young couple.


Full name: unknown… mid 20’s… does not work… Araceli’s cousin… married… lives with her as-yet-unseen husband, somewhere a few hundred miles away from Portstown. In a nutshell: every bit as dedicated the partier as Miriam, she is struggling to stay upbeat about her recent marriage (which she has clearly regretted since the beginning)… often trades relationship insights with her “favorite cousin”, the equally frustrated and dissatisfied Araceli.

Truly minor characters who crop up from time to time

The following are seen too infrequently to warrant a picture or a bio. But you never know, their day in the sun may be forthcoming. In order of first appearance:
  • Ruiz—Wally’s teammate on the Arch City Starlings, a lothario who dispenses bad marital advice.
  • Carlos—friend/boyfriend of Miriam’s from back home (California), appeared in one early arc and again in a bonus story in one of the books. Anyone who appears twice could be a threat to show up a third time.
  • Portstown poker players—two guys that Miriam invites over when she has a home poker game. One of them is older and married, the other is younger and clearly enamored with her.
  • Vivienne—ex-co-worker of Miriam and Sherry. So far has only appeared in books, but has done so twice, hence her inclusion here.
  • Steven’s ex-bandmates—they actually only appeared in one arc, but it was a real long one, and he could conceivably try to mend fences with them.
  • Dave and Danielle—married friends of Greg who advise him on important relationship issues, each from his or her own divergent perspective.
  • Receptionist at Rod’s office—we’ve seen her twice, and she had lines both times. So here she is.
  • Miriam’s boss at the sports bar—torn between his distaste for her choice in attire and his taste for the resulting revenue.
  • Wally’s parents—once in one of the books, and ever so briefly in the strip. They get mentioned sometimes without making an appearance, so that makes them a little more part of the picture.
  • Carolyn—One of Steven’s ex-girlfriends. Like most of Steven’s relationships, theirs was short-lived.

Copyright © 2013 R.C. Monroe