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Webcomic / Hell(p)

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“We are Help Service! Want a business card?”
No. 1

Hell(p) is a horror/fantasy webcomic by Oliver Levang aka Harkill and C. Vinter aka Ckirean. Set in a Mundane Afterlife version of Hell, the story follows the Help Service — a group of individuals who make a meager living by running errands for money. One day, while chasing a potted plant down the street, they stumble across a contest that promises the winner a ticket to Heaven. A way out? What could possibly go wrong?

Intended to be a fun blend of horror and comedy, Hell(p) features a gritty visual style relying mostly on black, grey, and red. The characters look like they barely escaped a massacre at some underground punk house and the whole setting has a noticeable lowlife aesthetic to it, not dissimilar to that of some post-apocalyptic works. Think Wretched Hive with supernatural elements and kooky weirdness woven into the everyday life with a very generous splash of blood.

Although Hell(p) was not conceived as an Interactive Comic, there has been quite a bit of audience participation, mainly in the form of two “Create a Character” competitions hosted on deviantART. The authors invited everyone to submit an Original Character for the comic. The few winning characters were then adopted, modified, and integrated into the cast. The authors (particularly Harkill) are also known to interact with fans a lot, resulting in quite a bit of Word of God.

Launched on December 11, 2013, the comic is hosted on Tapas and Patreon. Updates are every Friday with Tapas lagging behind Patreon by a couple of pages. There's also a considerable amount of supplementary material, like sketches, posters, bonus strips etc. available here and here.

Now has an official website.

Hell(p) contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Team 11's first kill is this. Marcus gets startled by an overly eager cameraman and frantically kicks him into a landmine. This being Hell, it's Played for Laughs of course.
  • The Ageless: Everyone, naturally. If people continued aging after their death, the afterlife would look like a geriatric home.
  • All Deaths Final: Hell's citizens normally don't stay dead (although death is not consequence-free), but any fatality in the course of the contest is final, as stated in the rulebook.
  • All There in the Manual: Quite a lot of info has been revealed in promotional materials and comments on deviantART.
  • Anti-Gravity Clothing: If you thought it was impossible to have Idiot Hair with a hat on, look at Marcus' beanie.
  • Ate His Gun: No. 4 did in his backstory, hoping to find peace in death. All he accomplished instead was moving to Hell permanently.
  • B-Side Comics: The 5-page Easter special and the 1st anniversary bonus comic entitled HELL.
  • Berserker Tears: Tom of team 3 charges Grayson with a face full of tears after witnessing his teammate's brutal murder.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Marcus could easily be mistaken for Plucky Comic Relief since he usually acts like a bratty child and treats most situations with the maturity of one. However he also possesses superhuman strength which he will not hesitate to use if you push his buttons. Grayson had to learn that the hard way.
  • Bizarre Human Biology: Some people enter Hell not quite as they used to be in life. Strange eyes, sharp teeth, tails, extra limbs... pretty much anything goes.
  • Blindfolded Vision: Domino wears eyepatches over both eyes, yet doesn't seem to have any problems with seeing. Lampshaded by the suicide guy. Same for Fritz whose head is bandaged from the nose up.
  • The Cameo: Dan from Drugs and Wires briefly appeared as a lemonade salesman in the arena. Knowing Dan, that lemonade is probably not safe to drink. Returning the favor, Domino and Marcus appear in Drugs and Wires. They can be seen in a night club enjoying the creepy ambiance.
  • Canon Immigrant: Several characters have joined the Canon via two “Create a Character” competitions held by the authors. Most prominently, Marcus and Grayson.
  • Capture the Flag: The first challenge of the contest is this. Although, the real challenge is actually to stay alive.
  • Consummate Professional: No. 1 fits this both in his occupation (he'll help you with anything as long as you pay) and in personality, being a serious no-nonsense type. This is also the image he tries to project when interacting with others. Business card, anyone?
  • Cool Helmet: No. 1 wears one, complete with a badass mohawk-style crest.
  • Cool Shades: No. 1, an undeniable badass, wears a pair of aviator sunglasses. Justified because Flicker City is located in a desert.
  • A Day in the Limelight: No. 4 gets a rather bleak one in HELL, the bonus comic.
  • Dead to Begin With: Everyone, naturally. The story takes place in Hell, after all.
  • Deadly Game: The contest that the protagonists enter is not exactly a paragon of sportsmanship: rules are pretty much nonexistent and the participants go straight to murdering their way to victory. It is held every five years and seems to be Hell's equivalent of Olympic Games with just as much public excitement and media coverage, but higher body count.
  • Debut Queue: No. 1 and No. 4 are introduced first, Fritz and Marcus show up several pages later, Domino appears at the beginning of the second chapter, and we only get the first glimpse of Rip and Grayson just before chapter 3 starts.
  • Distressed Dude: No. 4 during his brief near-abduction.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The first stage of the contest is hosted in a location called Bloody Death Arena of Doom. Subtle.
  • Drama Queen: Marcus has a penchant for overreaction.
  • Driven to Suicide: No. 4 on account of having a miserable life.
  • Easing into the Adventure: The first two chapters are more concerned with establishing the setting and the cast; the actual plot doesn't show up until the very end of chapter 2.
  • Electrified Bathtub: How the unnamed guy offs himself in the beginning of the second chapter.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Judging by Marcus' and Domino's reaction, No. 4 has one.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • No. 1 gets firmly established as a badass when we find out what happened in the “house in the middle of nowhere.”
    • Domino on the other hand is established as a jerkass the moment he yells at and outright threatens to kill a poor disoriented newcomer for bumping into him.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The introductory mini-arc about Fritz treats you to a serving of blood, humor, and demons. You know you're in for a fun ride from there.
  • Expressive Accessory: Marcus' beanie is just as alarmed by No. 4's misfortune as its owner.
  • Failed a Spot Check: No. 1 fails to find the signup line for the contest... while standing under a giant sign pointing just towards that. Made even more egregious by the fact that the entire city was peppered with ads for the contest. Someone needs to clean his glasses more often.
  • Fingore: Marcus is missing pinkies on both hands.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Help Service fits perfectly.
    • No. 1 is choleric: competitive and domineering leader.
    • No. 4 is phlegmatic: quiet, patient, and gentle.
    • Marcus is sanguine: outgoing, dramatic, and oversexed.
    • Domino is melancholic: cynical and outwardly cold.
  • Frame Break: Marcus' outrage cannot be contained.
  • A Friend in Need: No. 4 entered Hell right after (and as a result of) crossing his Despair Event Horizon — not the right state of mind to get even more hardship thrown your way. He would most probably end up having it much worse if it wasn't for No. 1 being a Good Samaritan. Bonus points to No. 1 since they were complete strangers at the time.
  • Friendship Moment: Whatever No. 1 said to comfort No. 4 after their first meeting sure qualifies. Especially since it was a rather out-of-character moment for him.
  • Funny Background Event: The gang chasing the plant behind clueless No. 1.
  • Given Name Reveal: Crayon calls No. 1 by his real name when they briefly meet in chapter 3, making it clear that they have known each other for a long time. Inverted when No. 1 reveals that Crayon's nickname used to be No. 2.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: No. 1 wears a pair of broken glasses for some reason.
  • Good Samaritan: No. 1 shows himself as this in HELL by picking up homeless, freshly deceased No. 4 off the street and providing him with much-needed support. Hardly surprising, considering he started the Help Service later on, but he hides his heart of gold rather well.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Marcus wears boxers with hearts on them, because of course he does.
  • Grammar Nazi: Marcus gets absolutely furious over the badly misspelled contest announcement flyer.
  • Guest Strip: HELL, the 1st anniversary comic, features 6 guest artists each doing one page alongside both authors.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: No. 1 wears these.
  • Hates Being Touched: No. 1 is pretty averse to physical contact.
  • A Hell of a Time: Living in a Vice City is hardly fire and brimstone and doesn't preclude fun activities, as evidenced by the love hotel on this page.
  • Hellevator: A rather creepy one shows up in the beginning of chapter 2.
  • Hi, Mom!: Happens during one of the live interviews, naturally.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of team 3's members gets a particularly gruesome and realistic variation of this, complete with agonized screams and helpless flailing.
  • Implausible Deniability:
    No. 4: Just tell Marcus what happened.
    No. 1: OK, there might have been some small complications. Some people might have died and a certain house might have burned down. By accident.
  • Improbable Weapon User: No. 4's weapon of choice is a regular dinner fork.
  • In-Series Nickname: Apparently, the first rule of life in Hell is to keep your real name a secret, ergo, almost everyone goes by an alias of some kind.
  • In the Hood: No. 4 wears one constantly to avoid attention and hide the hole in the back of his head.
  • It's All About Me: No. 1 gives out nicknames based on the order in which he befriended the person in question. Starting with himself. No. 4 doesn't seem to mind, but Marcus is rightfully indignant upon hearing that he's apparently No. 11.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: No. 1's reasoning for saving Fritz hints at this. The circumstances under which he met No. 4 firmly establish it.
  • Jerkass: No. 1 and Domino for sure; Marcus has his moments, too.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Marcus has "1" tattooed on each knuckle.
  • Lack of Empathy: Domino finds his gadget more worthy of his attention than one of his teammates being abducted 10 steps away.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The client who asks the Help Service to retrieve his plant.
  • Mean Boss: Don't expect No. 1 to clap you on the shoulder and commend you for good work.
  • Multinational Team: Team 11 consists of two Americans (No. 4 and Marcus), a Brit (Domino), a German (No. 1), a Somalian (Rip) and someone who only speaks Spanish (Grayson). Considering that Hell is full of people from all over the world, other teams are probably this as well.
  • Mundane Afterlife: This version of Hell doesn't look much different from regular life except...
  • Mundane Fantastic: ...demons, people with anatomical anomalies, and just occasional weirdness. No one except newcomers bats an eye though.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Said by a guy to a lady, weirdly enough.
  • Never Bareheaded: No. 1 is never seen without his trademark helmet, No. 4 without his hood, and Marcus without his beanie. The latter two have been shown bareheaded outside of the comic, though.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Fritz can be surprisingly helpful, although he borders on Team Pet.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Rip got this treatment from No. 1 as she was trying to explain her plan for the first challenge. Who needs teamwork when you're awesome, right?
  • Numerical Theme Naming: No. 1, No. 4 and (later) No. 2 as well.
  • Older Than They Look: According to the official website, No. 4 and Rip are both in their forties and Grayson is 36. This also applies in-story to pretty much everyone, since people stop aging after they die, so it is possible to meet a teenager who's been a teenager for a very long time.
  • Only in It for the Money: You may think Help Service is a humanitarian organization. Think again.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: No. 1, No. 4, Domino, Rip and many more.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Humanoid with horns, tails, and sharp teeth. They seem to be Hell's government. Although not much has been shown of them so far with the exception of Fritz who seems to be... special.
  • The Paralyzer: No. 4's saliva can paralyze people. Much like some Amazonian tribes use curare, No. 4 briefly licks his fork before stabbing an opponent with it, causing a full-body paralysis within seconds.
  • Perverted Drooling: Marcus drools like a bulldog at No. 2, apparently seeing a lot of potential applications for the latter's four arms.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: Fritz turns out to be a living Plot Coupon because contest rules require one demon on each team. Being an active and rather hyper team member, he's useful for other reasons too, of course.
  • Pointy Ears: Hiding under No. 4's hood. Grayson has them too.
  • Poisonous Person: No. 4 can produce toxic saliva with which he coats his fork to administer the venom. A single stab with the spit-coated fork seems to be enough to take out a person in seconds.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Grayson's inability to understand his team has resulted in two deaths, a broken arm and a serious dent in No. 1's budget.
  • Portmantitle: Hell + help.
  • Precision F-Strike: Happens during a jolly morning news program reporting on the upcoming contest and serves as a reminder of just how "jolly" it's going to get.
    News anchor: This is fucking Hell. There are no rules.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted with No. 4 who Ate His Gun. He is left with a gaping hole in the back of his head which is too big to patch up, so he covers it with duct tape.
  • The Quiet One: Barring Grayson, who almost never speaks for physical reasons, No. 4 is the least talkative of his team.
  • R-Rated Opening: The first chapter promptly demonstrates why red is the only consistently used color in this otherwise monochromatic comic.
  • Rescue Introduction: The first time we see Fritz, he is strapped to a gurney in what looks like some kind of a basement lab. He is then rescued by No. 1 and becomes part of the team.
  • Rule of Cool: Used liberally both for costume and character design.
  • Scary Teeth: No. 4 seems to have borrowed his teeth from a shark. A rare non-villainous example.
  • Scenery Porn: Used occasionally to showcase the Wretched Hive environment.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Domino is missing from the first chapter entirely, despite being one of the main characters.
  • Side-Story Bonus Art: Harkill made a picture where Marcus tries to get No. 1 to be his valentine. A year later he attempts the same on the rest of the team. There is also a 3-page mini-comic where the whole gang celebrates the comic's first anniversary and attempts to take a group picture.
  • Sigil Spam: The Help Service logo—the red cross—is absolutely everywhere: on their clothes, their car, the walls in their office... It also shows up on covers and promotional art a lot.
  • Signature Team Transport: All teams in the contest have a unique car. Considering there's a bus, a hearse and even a circus wagon, perhaps even too unique. Team 11's military truck is extra-signature though because it is also the official car of the Help Service and is covered in their logo.
  • Starts with a Suicide
    • Second chapter, and with it, the actual plot. Used as a narrative device to show how people enter Hell.
    • HELL, the 1st anniversary bonus comic, provides a little backstory for No. 4 and starts with his suicide right in the first frame.
  • Tagline: “Do You Need Help?”
  • Team Pet: Fritz the demon has become one, of sorts, behaving more like a dog than a sentient person.
  • Technical Pacifist: No. 1 is definitely one as he forbade his team from killing unless absolutely necessary. Marcus, Domino, Rip and No. 4 could also count since they agreed to his order. Grayson, on the other hand, seems to enjoy murder a little too much.
  • That's What She Said: Knowing Domino, Marcus practically walked into it.
    Marcus: Oh, the flag! It's smaller than I expected!
    Domino: That's what she said.
  • There Are No Rules: This is the only rule of the Capture the Flag challenge. Not unexpected, considering this is Hell we're talking about.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Marcus and Domino forgot their contracts right at the start line, not knowing that the contest is unwinnable without them or that Rip was smart enough to pick them up. Instead of being grateful, Domino gets mad at her for "scaring him".
  • The Unintelligible: Grayson almost never speaks, but whenever he does, his voice is completely muffled by his mask. Even if the mask wasn't there, no one would understand him because he doesn't speak English.
  • V-Formation Team Shot: Team 11 indulges in this in the last frame of HELL. Except No. 4 takes the central spot since the comic is about him. Considering the context, this was done more for heartwarming purposes than coolness.
  • Vice City: Wanton murder, kidnappings in broad daylight, yoga studios... you didn't expect Hell to be a nice place, did you?
  • Violence is the Only Option: The leader of team 3 proposes to resolve the first challenge non-violently. Being a Technical Pacifist, No. 1 would have almost certainly agreed to that. Of course right in the middle of negotiations Grayson had to jump into battle, swiftly curb-stomping two team 3 members along with any attempt at diplomacy.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Happens when one of the Vox Pops interviewees suddenly flies into a rage fit.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Fernando Alejandro and his entire team are brutally wiped out only a couple of pages after their introduction. To no one's surprise.
  • We Help the Helpless: ...for the right price, of course. The protagonists' main occupation.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Crayon was the first friend No. 1 made in Hell, but their brief reunion is not very amiable. While Crayon seems happy to see an old friend, No. 1 is less than pleased. The situation is made worse by the fact that they end up on competing teams.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: It looks like almost everyone in Hell has one. Although no one seems to be bothered by them.
  • You Are Not Alone: How HELL ends and No. 4's journey in the underworld begins.