Genius inventor and "freelance bum" whose creations almost always bring mayhem and destruction in their wake, Riff is Torg's best friend and the other main hero of the series. He can often be seen checking his notes after an invention attempt goes awry and is rarely without his trademark sunglasses and Trenchcoat.

Riff always wears his signature sunglasses, and is never seen without them. This seems to stem from an issue with his eyes that Torg has hinted at, [1] and was revealed to be a result of a "diluted curse by the gods of Mohkadun" [2] [3]

Riff appeared in the very first comic on August 25 1997 [4]. He is Jewish[5]; he wields a Star of David against vampires and celebrates Hanukkah.

Tech-loving cool introvert
First appearance
Genius inventor, heavy weapons
Let me check my notes


Riff is much more introverted than much of the cast (especially in contrast to his best friend Torg), and seems to often have difficulty expressing his feelings beyond just a shrug or nod. As a result, he has difficulty maintaining a steady relationship. In the course of the comic, we know that Riff has dated:[6]

We also know that the parallel Riff from the Dimension of Rain married Izzy from that dimension.


Riff greatest

Riff, close to finishing his greatest invention ever

Riff's inventions have been extremely varied (though he has a love for heavy firepower), and often play key roles in plotlines.

Specific Inventions[]

Among the most important of his inventions have been the Dimensional Flux-Agitator (a device used for moving matter between dimensions), and his robot suit Mark 19, which the military adapted into the dangerous REA-5.

More recent inventions include S.H.O.D.D.I.E Suits [9], (Synthetic Hybrid Optimal Destruction Digbot Infantry Exoskeleton).

Early Inventions

He has also invented a time machine (not Y2K-compatible), and earlier versions of the "Mark" series, gigantic mecha-style robot featuring enough firepower for a modern army and an AI cribbed from an old See-'n-Say. Their unpredictable (and usually destructive) effects generally lead to Riff uttering his catchphrase, "Let me check my notes." Riff first says this after Torg accidentally turns into a monster with the Book of E-Ville[10].

Note that the laser cannons Torg and Riff find in Aylee's home dimension look very similar to later weapons he builds himself, see the original in "Sluggy Freelance: 10/20/1997". It's not clear whether Riff has been using the same laser cannon through the whole story, or if he's built replacements or upgrades based on the original. It seems more likely that Riff would tinker with and possibly improve the original design.

Riff starts on first Robot: "Sluggy Freelance: 3/07/1998".

Anti-Vampire gun: "Sluggy Freelance: 10/04/1998".

Personal History[]

His biological mother was revealed early in the strip to be Dr. Lorna, a Dr. Laura-esque radio personality whom he blames for ruining his life. She disowns him after his mechanical duplicate (operated by Bun-bun and Kiki) causes problems at one of his mother's parties. In the early strip, little was known of his father, Wilcott Wilden, except that he was presumably an Indiana Jones-esque archaeologist.

Riff primarily lived with his father and stepmother since the age of ten, and even Torg did not know the truth about his real mother until it came up early during the events of the comic. (The story "A Carnivorous Smurf for Kimmy Sue Hasenpfeffer" contradicts the last claim by featuring Dr. Lorna as known by Torg to be Riff's mother in the eighties.)

Riff's father is involved heavily in the Mohkadun storyline, and is revealed to be working with the cults toward the goal of bringing back K'Z'K. Both Riff and his father are descendants of the Mohkadun God of Justice.

Riff also was a former freelance talent for the evil corporation Hereti-Corp,[11] but eventually aided in reducing the company to shambles when he discovered the reports he had sent in were being used for very sinister purposes. He kept this work secret, even from Torg, for example when Torg asks him what he does, he just says "no comment". [12] Afterwards, he took an office job and was transferred to Alaska where he set up a company making anti-vampire weapons; when his accountant managed to bankrupt him, he returned to freelance bum work.

Riff had been making anti-vampire weapons since he had to save Torg and Zoë from Valerie and the Lysinda Circle. Even though Sam helped Riff stop them, Riff never trusted Sam not to suck their blood, and the two have feuded off and on ever since.

In the same way, Riff has had a long-standing mistrust of Aylee, often assuming he has to kill her to prevent her from killing his friends and other innocents. The other characters usually help Aylee hide from him whenever he gets into that mood. After her most recent transformation however, the two appear to be on better terms with each other.

Riff usually wears a trenchcoat and his face is never seen without his sunglasses. In one Clay Yount strip, he is sleeping with a blinder, and turns away when he reaches for his sunglasses, but in Pete Abrams strips he even sleeps with sunglasses on. He has a fear of clowns and the Department of Motor Vehicles. He had a self-esteem problem when he was going through high school; his translator says random phrases designed to stroke his ego.

Riff is also known as:

  • Riffington (by his mother)
  • 758449 (in 4U City)
  • Seventy-fiver (also in 4U City)
  • Riffy (by K'Z'K')
  • Rollmops (by his girlfriend Judith)


Alternative versions of Riff have been encountered in the Dimension of Lame and the Dimension of Rain.

The "lame" Riff worked on inventions that could help people, and also made a better-working DFA which he used to send back Torg to his home dimension.

All information about the Riff from the Dimension of Rain could be considered spoilers, since "our" Riff early speculates that his dimensional parallel is the mysterious "His Masterness" ruling over 4U City. But you can check out the link if you don't mind spoilers...


According to novelist John Ringo, who has corresponded with Pete Abrams while doing a crossover, Riff was originally based on a deceased friend of Abrams' named Paul Kilzer. This connection is touched upon in "The Sluggite Koan".