|“||My earliest memory is that of my brother killing my twin sister before my eyes, and I was sent to an asylum because they thought I did it. Can you POSSIBLY comprehend that? Can you fathom an entire life of loss?||„|
|~ Joel Calley|
Joel Calley is a protagonist villain and major antagonist in the webcomic Concession. For much of the plot, he is driven by his desire to seek out and murder his older brother Julian in revenge for murdering their sister Miranda and framing Joel for the deed.
This black wolf is, for the lack of better words, an outright pervert and a sadist with an unsubtle sense dark humor (like bluntly telling a coworker he'd "do" their dead mother). He also tends to be sardonic with the theater's customers and can be quite intimidating, especially noting one occasion when pushed to smile, he gave a shark-like grin that frightened the customer. Behind the scenes, he carries a history of having committed murders and rape, although no one is really fooled into believing that Joel is a good guy.
Joel also has a bitter anger towards anyone or anything that tries to instill a sense of authority over him. This stemmed from his childhood when he was abused by his strict fundamentalist father and then allegedly by his older brother Julian. His anti-authority attitude steers some of the webcomic's plots, such as the time he confronted brown cat Matthew "Matt" Gein (who was then conflicted about his Christian beliefs and his sexuality) about religious institutions being afraid of "the value of indulgence" (albeit a warped statement given Joel's habits). This hatred has also left him paranoid of the "constant vigilance" of his older brother, furthering his desire to exact revenge.
Despite these negative qualities, he seems to genuinely care about his eventual boyfriend Matt, especially in the final arcs of the webcomic when he pleads with Matt to stay with him after cheating on the cat. In one of the webcomic's supplemental materials, Joel mentions how he had declined the offer of a woman he walked off with because of a "kitty" waiting at home for him. In another of the later story arcs, he uses his abilities to convince Matt's father against disowning him, although Joel's methods leave his father traumatized and only further confirm his worries about his son's relationship with the wolf. (Although as one Ballerina Mafia strip shows, Joel demonstrates the stereotypical male fear of commitment, running away when Matt proposes that they talk about getting married.)
Joel initially is just the jerk employee who made trouble for his coworkers, such as invading white mouse Artie Crowley's personal space and sexually harassing Matt prior to their eventual relationship. However, there are signs of Joel's villainous nature early on in the webcomic, such as his sexually predatory nature and his revealed involvement behind several of the webcomic's conflicts such as the deaths of a sheep child Chelsie's parents and a massive bug infestation that brings Millicent to the theater. He also pulls other atrocious acts, such as throwing a knife into the air to determine "who would pay" and seriously injuring an unfortunate person in the lobby.
Father Tim, a local raccoon priest, is consulted by Matt during a session in the confession booth about his sexual confusion. While supportive of Matt and wanting to ensure the best for him, Tim vehemently warns Matt against becoming involved with Joel. After Tim has convinced one of those manipulated in Joel's plot to act against Joel's intentions, Joel confronts Tim in the confessional. The wolf and priest engage in a spiritual/energy battle which results in Tim's defeat but also leaves Joel considerably weakened and sickly. During this battle, Joel also revealed a shadowy Grim Reaper-esque form wielding a scythe and demonic tendrils.
He also later tries to kill Artie while the latter is afflicted with cancer. As with many of the conflicts in the webcomic, Joel had given Artie the cancer and then intended to kill him. However, Artie uncovers powers of his own like Joel and defeats the wolf, drawing out a female form lurking inside the wolf. Following this, Joel eventually reveals his past to Matt. Apparently, Julian had been envious of the attention Joel and Miranda received and framed Joel for the murder, leading to him being institutionalized. Although Matt calls out the stupidity of his revenge scheme, Joel persists, insisting that he's just because of what he went through.
His revenge plot extends further when he creates a bug infestation that draws Millicent to the theater. Being the vice president of the theater company that manages the theater of Concession and the eyes/ears of Julian, this made her a target for Joel. He manipulates his coworkers into a strike against her and then later attacks and infects/corrupts her during a confrontation. Despite this, he gets nowhere with his revenge-although it is revealed that he is partly manipulated by the spirit of Miranda who attaches to him like a parasite. (While Miranda's malevolent behavior accounts for some of Joel's violent actions, it doesn't excuse him of his sadism, perverted tendencies and so on. He even later says that he willingly aided his demonic sister to keep her from starving and that they are working together to achieve power.)
In the final arcs of the webcomic, Joel is driven to confront Artie once more when prompted by Miranda and Artie's own desire to get revenge. Matt in the meantime becomes more and more corrupted and is to Joel's side. Joel finally confronts his brother but finds out that Miranda was never murdered in the first place. She had only died in her sleep and was prompted by his own insanity and connections to his sister that Julian had been responsible for the death. What's more, he finds out that Julian has sold his shares of the company to Artie. Determined to still reclaim what he can of his intended revenge under the pretense of "survival of the fittest", Joel and Miranda fight Artie who is aided by the spirit of his dead girlfriend Melusine. While Artie damages Joel, the wolf is saved by Matt who wards off the mouse.
Joel and Matt are approached years later by Tim and Chelsie who engage them in battle. In a fitting manner, Joel speaks of himself as a villain and launches into the attack.
At the Heart of It All
Joel also serves as a recurring antagonist in Immelmann's earlier webcomic At the Heart of It All, allegedly to represent hate and sadism towards the self. In his first appearance, he is shown violently thrashing Immy's stand-in during a therapy session, perhaps to symbolize the character's own struggle with self-loathing. True to form, he is also shown doing other depraved things such as whipping a chained-up Immy and performing a horrific heart replacement surgery on the wolf-rabbit. (Whether this is all symbolic or actually happens is never fully made clear due to the shifting nature of the webcomic. In either case, Immy returns to full health, usually to be assaulted again later on.) Joel also appears in other forms, such as a shadowy entity with nightmarish imagery haunting Immy or as a pack of wolves threatening to assault the unfortunate wolf-rabbit. Some of the AtHoIA comics also reveal insights on Joel's mental state as a kind of supplementary material to Concession. Such examples include the mental hospital entry on the character and a disturbing image of Joel asking if "Matt can come out and play" while surrounded by other wolves.
Joel reappears in the series Ballerina Mafia and has gained the ability to travel through time while in league with a time-traveling pirate and his craft the SJ Wingate. The wolf initially uses this as an excuse to partake in historical events of violence-such as Old Western duels and confrontations with 1920s bootleggers-only to be repeatedly beaten and nearly killed. (As the series is more comedic in nature, Joel's fighting prowess as seen in Concession can be virtually nonexistent in Ballerina Mafia.) Healed with a nanotech tube, Joel takes his former victim Chelsie as a companion and continues to mess around time, including a chance to meet his idol Jack the Ripper. It's revealed that his decision to run around was prompted when Matt proposed the subject of marriage.
Disturbingly, he has started using his time travel capabilities to troll and threaten Artie, proving how petty and rather pitiful the wolf can get. Initially, it was a photo set in 1891 with the phrase "Artie Sucks" present on his person. However, the second photo, this time as a JPG on a flash drive, shows Joel smirking atop Artie's headstone, suggesting either a death threat or just another instance of Joel's dark sense of humor (likely both given Joel's character). Despite this, Artie was able to recognize one of Joel's locations in the following photos and managed to set up a boxing glove trap that socked Joel from within a tree near where Joel waited, likely to ambush Artie. Unfortunately, Joel goes further back in time and has an affair with Artie's mother during a rough patch with her husband, getting revenge by making Artie his biological son, much to the mouse's anger. Although Artie gets him back by leaving bits of Joel's fur at crime scenes, complicating the wolf's progress.
In response, Joel states his intention to use genetics-altering technology of a future time to further ruin Artie's life. He succeeds in altering Artie's gender, hoping to anger the mouse to no end. But he then discovers that in this timeline, Joel ended up becoming romantically attracted to the female Artie. (In Joel's own words, his "sexual harassment would have been in an entirely different context and manner" with a female version of the mouse.) This consequence of altering the timeline very much confuses the wolf (and implies that some of Joel's actions towards Artie may be motivated by an unrequited crush/attraction). Ultimately, Joel yearns to get everything back to the way it was, even stating that he just wants to return to Matt. However, his actions have damaged the time-space continuum to such a radical degree that the wolf is forced to watch as existence collapses around him.
Eventually, the damage done to time is fixed by another character who creates a new reality to keep the ones caused by Joel's actions in the time stream from damaging everything again. Joel is returned to Matt, and apparently has undergone a sex change, transforming into Julia in the process. What happens to him after this point is currently unknown (although one later piece of adult artwork from Immelmann suggests that Matt and Julia have rekindled, or at least are together again).
- In some portions of the webcomic, Joel appears to be something of a Grim Reaper-esque figure with scythe and shadowy form, collecting souls. Later in the comic though, the character, while having supernatural powers, seems to only be a living being.
- Like many of Immy's characters, he also appears in art pieces of the creator in scenes that may be canonical with the events of Concession. These show him doing activities ranging from the obnoxious (such as running off with Artie's pants and forcing the mouse to chase him) to the downright perverted, as to be expected from the mature series.
- A secret note from Calvin Casey, the asylum doctor tending to Joel during his time there, reveals more signs of Joel's influence via Miranda. It also shows another instance of the butterfly motif seen throughout the comic. The note can be read here: http://concessioncomic.com/tim/doctor.html
- Joel also has a habit of cross-dressing and disguising himself as a she-wolf named Julia Chase. He uses this to get associate and on/off lover Roland de la Fay to meet with him at the webcomic's conclusion. One Ballerina Mafia strip, however, suggests that Julia Chase may be a dual personality, as seen by Joel drifting off into a conversation with "Julia" when questioned by Chelsie. Although given the more humorous nature of Ballerina Mafia, it may simply be a joke highlighting Joel's mentally ill state.
- When asked what he'd be if he wasn't a wolf, he answered that he would be a platypus.