Well, in order to do a proper look over of each character, we first need to know their age.
According to this comic, Riff's mother is apparently under 40 by the time of this comic:
Now, this was in Sluggy's first year, and we'll assume that Riff's mother is 38, but Riff and Torg are both legal for drinking beer (although I doubt being under age would have ever stopped them before), as seen by them going to bars, and making off hand comments about the beer store being closed (hence, the summoning of the demon).
This suggests to me that Torg and Riff had just graduated college just before the comic began. I'm not sure just what Torg and Riff got in their classes, but for Riff, he'd probably be ahead of most people, and thus go through higher courses, although I'm sure most of his professors hated him. Torg himself is more artistic, but clearly competent with a computer, and has a head for buisness.
Now, all of this suggets that Riff and Torg are 21, so they likely had three years in college, although I'm sure both of them could have also gone into college a year before most people, since despite their goofy nature, they're intelligent. Since Sluggy follows the Season = 1 year rule, that would make Torg and Riff about 32.
Now, the others are likely going to fit here as well. I would think that Gwynn is probably about 29-31, making her about Zoe's age, or just above it. It also matches with her personality and why she would want to date Riff, since Gwynn's mind is very immature; her method of thinking follows that of a high school girl wanting to date the cute, cool, older, and mysterious guy. She's matured as she's gotten older, but not by much. In any case, I would also put Zoe at 19 at the beginning of the comic, although she could be 18. This explains Zoe's own mentality. We know by later comics that she left her former university (or did she just not go to it?), and apparently she the main reason behind her moving so far away was to get away from her mother. I would guess that Zoe herself is either 18, and moved away from her mother after she found out that life was just to constricting in her hometown, and that not even college could help, or 19, and moved away after a year of that crap.
That basically makes the cast:
at the start of the comic. Gwynn I suspect is a bit older than Zoe, mostly due to the way Zoe looked up to her (at least in my opinion) early in the comic for advice on boys. Torg and Riff would be older than Zoe, but they act very immature and childish. This may be why Zoe was constantly yelling at how stupid and immature they were; because she expected something better from not only adults, but OLDER
adults. Early on however, she was constantly calling them jerks, morons, and beratting them on the lesser extents of responsibility (and perhaps morality).
Now, current time places them at:
This really does go a long way in explaining their current state.
Torg is a silly person. We all get that, but we also know that there is in fact, a far more serious side to Torg, and at times, his entire silly side seems like an act that he can just put on at will. So, is Torg a phony, and just using his silly aspect as a means to get what he wants, or has Torg in fact, been crushed by his past adventures in the DoL and DoP, and is just faking being all right?
I suspect the answer is neither of these. Torg’s silly personality and his duel sided aspect of being able to go from serious to silly at the drop of the hat and using his silly side as a mask/shield is in fact, likely nothing new. Torg has always acted like this, ever since the early days of Sluggy. We saw that even in the Kitten’s story arc, which he would act like a complete and utter dork just to drive a wedge between Zoe and her current love interest. In fact, when her love interest made mention of the fact that Torg was purposely interrupting them just to drive them apart, Zoe denied it; claiming that it’s just how Torg acts. However, we clearly see Torg admitting to another girl that this was exactly the point to his interrupting them, rather than his more innocent claims. Other times however, we see that Torg being silly is clearly part of just who he is. He does stuff simply because he’s a really silly guy.At first point, this may make Torg seem a bit unrealistic and two dimensional, but this is actually the opposite of such a thing.
The truth is, Torg appears to look like a simpleton who has no concept of the consequences of his actions simply because he wants people to believe that. From the beginning of Sluggy, we clearly see that Torg is intelligent; he went to college (I assume he graduated…), ran his own business (until it got ran into the ground), and was a freelance web-designer. He was also clearly artistic due to his no only former career choice, but due to his current job and him painting Zoe’s house, proving that he had great motor skills. Hell, he even understood computers well enough on his own to hold a business, as well as perform basic up keeping, which although seems like a ‘duh’ to us now, wasn’t as much so in the 1997s. So clearly Torg is smart, and very capable of performing complex tasks; not exactly as simple as he would at first led people to believe by dressing up as a pirate, or say, acting like a complete dolt.
Perhaps, one could argue that Torg is smart, but lacks foresight and wisdom? Well, to an extent he does, but not as much as he leads others to believe. From the very beginning of Sluggy, Torg has shown moral understanding of the actions of others, such as Bun-bun’s constant immoral exploits, case in point. We’ve even seen him angry at other characters long before That Which Redeems, and often with good reason. So again, we know that Torg is capable of analyzing a situation and seeing what is right or wrong, but we’ve also seen him doing it before. So why does Torg act like a complete goofball who lacks both things?
The answer is that Torg is a very manipulative person. Now, despite how horrible that may sound, it isn’t as per say, evil as one would at first believe. That is to say, Torg acts like a fool out of a mix of him being a naturally cheerful (and silly) person, but also because he wants everyone else around him to believe that’s all there is to him. This sort of behavior has multiple of complex reasons for existing, part of which assuredly stems from the point in that Torg always wants to be a happy person, and he wants others around him to be happy as well. The easiest way to do that is to make others laugh, and some of the best humor is often derived from another’s expense. Given Torg’s kind nature, he wouldn’t care to target another person, and instead makes himself appear to be more of a simpleton, simply so he can use himself as source material for joking around. However, there is also a certain selfish aspect to this as well; Torg does it also because he craves attention, and by acting like the class clown, he can get that attention. Typically, most people outgrow this at a point, maturing their sense of humor so that one can take them seriously, despite the fact that they may crack jokes. At some point however, Torg became entrenched in his act; and thus he became his act. By learning how people treat him by acting like The Fool, he discovered how to manipulate people simply by acting silly. We see this at his job, where Torg acts like he has NO inkling of just how a Monday through Friday job works, despite the fact that he’s clearly intelligent, and has worked there for some time. We discover that while telling the story that he suspected there was a good chance of him not loosing his job, simply because his boss couldn’t get the idea of “being fired” into Torg’s (apparent) thick skull. Within that same arc, we also hear from Gwynn that she believes that Torg is manipulative, and he’s actually much smarter than he may at first appear to be. So clearly, we see that Torg can gain from his act as much as anyone else can.
I suspect that as Torg got older, he came to believe that people expected him to act like a goof, and so he never really pushed himself to mature like others did. And to an extent, the older he got, the harder it would be for him to slip back into The Fool act, simply because it’s a comfort zone in very uncomfortable situations. Thus, The Fool act also became a shield for Torg to use as a method to avoid stress in situations that would cause others to freak out; such as being kidnapped by vampires, stuck in the Dimension of Pain, and so forth. When this wall is torn down however, Torg becomes angry, and could in some cases depressed and worried. We see this throughout the Oasis and TWR arcs, where he’s no longer the simple fool who fails to understand that life is serious business. This suggests that Torg cops with stress simply by denying reality, and that leads us to our next step of studying Torg’s behavior. To be more precise, Torg likes to ignore reality, and not just for the sake of a defensive mechanism for stress and fear, but simply because Torg lives inbetween reality and his own little inner world. Torg WANTS to be a wizard. TORG wants to be that super hero. Torg WANTS to be that super genius who builds doomsday devices. He wants life to be more magical than reality typically is, and this is why during the early years of sluggy, he seemed less affected by the insane things going around him, simply because he wanted to be in a world of crazy time machines, aliens, and monsters from the beginning. Now, this isn’t to say that Torg is delusional about his abilities, since Torg knows that he’s none of these things, and to an extent, he doesn’t care all that much about becoming them; it isn’t his dream to be any of those things. His desire to act like these things are simply an extension of his naturally silly personality, and he only does so because it’s amusing, both in pretending to be it, and seeing how others react to it.
All this wraps up into the Torg we know at the beginning of Sluggy; the lovable, but goofy Torg that would jump off into an adventure into the past, or summon an ancient demon with a buddy simply for the hell of it. He’d manipulate people into thinking he’s something of a fool, but those closer to him actually know that he’s actually fairly talented, and a bit deeper than he at first appears, although they may not per say notice that his act is just an act, but rather just part of his natural personality. This lets Torg either have fun, or even manipulate people into doing things because he either wants to do something, wants them to do something, or he doesn’t want to do something. Case in point is where he manipulates Gwynn into taking over working on the house so he could play video games, tricks Bun-bun into believing that he misunderstood the term “brake” (to which Bun-bun himself confesses that he has no idea whether Torg did it on purpose or not), and other instances where he purposely uses his own nature to cause people to let him have his way, even when doing so makes Torg look like an idiot.
However, Torg’s own adventures with the paranormal have come back to haunt him so to speak. Where as before he could write off the moral and emotional stress by acting silly and simply ignoring it (again, a point of him using his goofy side as a shield/mask against reality), he’s suffered horribly throughout the TWR arc. There, he shamefully got into a relationship with the DoL Zoe, and felt horrible because he thought that she was innocent and taking advantage of her, and thus in a way violating his dimension’s Zoe. As he was living his lie, trying to push himself to believe that he loved DoL Zoe, and not just because she was a near-exact replica of his own, he watched as hundreds of people died at the hands of demons, and when he was on his way to the Demon King’s bachelor pad; his goofy past came to haunt him. Because rather than treat the attempts on his life by the DOP demons as the true threat that they were, he played them for laughs and made a profit off of it. And despite him being the target of the Demon Lord’s attacks, it was DOL Zoe who paid the ultimate price for his amusement. Of course, rather than take his revenge upon the demon, he sought redemption and helped DOL bun-bun empty the bag of goodness. It wasn’t until after escaping from the DOP, that he discovered that Zoe wasn’t as innocent or as good as he’d thought she was. Where he thought he was the one using her, he in essence was the one being used.
Despite the fact that Torg himself wasn’t at any technical fault for his relationship, he’s still guilty over it simply because that although he may have been in the right as far as the rules of relationships, he knows he did it for all the wrong reasons. He knows he was using her just as much as she was using him, and in his mind, he betrayed Zoe because rather than try to have a relationship with her, he settled for a fantasy of being with her.
All these failings are on Torg’s shoulders, but after he managed to get back on his feet from his return, he managed to bring back his fool act, partly because it’s part of who he is, partly as a mask against others, but mostly to avoid reality. DOL Zoe died because Torg had taken a serious threat as nothing more than a fun game, and it blew up in his face; with DOL Zoe paying the price. Thus, where as Torg had pushed off the responsibility of Oasis coming back to hurt Zoe, now he faced the same threat as he did with the demons and DOL Zoe. Worse still, every time Torg faced Zoe, his mask shattered. Her very presence forced Torg to acknowledge reality, but since Torg has spent most of his life ignoring reality, he isn’t capable of dealing with the stress when his resilient outer shell has been broken. We see more of this during Bun-bun and Torg’s quest to find the book of shadows, where he’s forced to face reality and come to terms for what he’s done. This causes Torg to take responsibility for his actions, by going out to find and stop Oasis from harming another, preferably by helping free her from the spell she came under. He even managed to come to terms with Zoe to some extent, to an extent of allowing himself to move on and perhaps even forgive himself enough to start a relationship with her.
What we see now is that Torg is reaching the final leg of his issues with the DOL and Zoe.
I'll do the others perhaps later, but right now my brain is a bit poofed out.