Supporting Cast: Simone of DUSTIN

By Tea Fougner

Happy National Organize Your Home Office Day!

Yes, that’s an actual thing, apparently.  It follows on the heels of “National Goof Off Day,” which we much prefer, and which brought to mind one of our favorite comics about National Goof Offs, DUSTIN, by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker.

But much more in line with today’s national holiday (apparently there is one of these almost every day?), we thought we’d talk about the one-woman powerhouse of the temporary employment world, Simone Fontenot, who runs TurboTemps, the temp agency where Dustin is registered.

Steve Kelley, who writes DUSTIN (Jeff Parker draws the art), has the following to say about Simone:

“Simone was born in southern Louisiana and grew up in New Orleans.  She’s African-American, single, and sassy.  We like to say that if sarcasm were a gram of fat, Simone would be biscuits and gravy.”

Steve describes Simone as “an amalgam of women I have encountered in New Orleans where I work.”

We love Simone for her deadpan sense of humor and her entrepreneurial savvy—as the owner of her own business, she provides an interesting balance to Dustin, who hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to be, or how to get there.  She’s also in the odd position of being both an ally to Dustin and a foil:  she’s the one who gets him the vast majority of his work assignments, but she also challenges him in ways that he doesn’t quite always know how to deal with:

“Simone’s relationship with Dustin is that of both an employer and a boss. She likes Dustin, but would never tell him so directly.  She intentionally gets Dustin’s name wrong as a way to amuse herself and to remind him who’s boss.”

And most of the jobs that Simone finds for Dustin do just that!  During his ignominious tenure at TurboTemps, Dustin has had an array of jobs that range on the embarrassment scale from “I don’t think I’ll put this on my resume” to “male server at Hooters” (literally—“And yes, he wore the orange gym shorts,” Steve reminds us).  “My favorite series that featured Simone was an assignment she gave Dustin to model nude for a community college art class,” says Steve. “She took great delight in his discomfort.”

“There’s an episode where Simone looks at Dustin and imagines him as the Human Cannon Ball.  Dustin climbs into the giant gun’s barrel, there’s an enormous boom and flash, and he is spat about four feet and lands in a sooty heap on the ground.  The strip is a visual metaphor for how Simone views him.  Still, Simone enjoys having Dustin around the way a cat might keep a captured, wounded mouse alive for its own amusement.”

Simone does have a life outside of TurboTemps, although it may be hard to imagine from reading DUSTIN.  Steve tells us that she loves to return to her native New Orleans for vacation: “She loves the food, the festivals, and the food.  Oh, and the food.”  Don’t we all?!