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Webcomic / Skullkickers

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Skullkickers is action/adventure comedy, swords-and-sorcery style. No one knows who these two mercenaries are or where they came from. The only thing that's clear is they're two of the most ornery, trouble-making warriors who've ever lived.

It was originally published in print as an Image comic, but creators Jim Zub and Edwin Huang also put the entire run online, a few pages at a time — finally reaching the end of the story in March of 2016. That version can be found here.

In 2020, a Kickstarter campaign was held for Skullkickers: Caster Bastards and the Great Grotesque, a new comic and adventure for Dungeons & Dragons.

Tropes found in Skullkickers:

  • Black Comedy: What did you expect from a comic called "Skullkickers"?
  • Black Magic: Presumably the reason somebody in Mudwich is collecting corpses.
  • Blood Knight
    Shorty: Killin' can make some folks jittery, it's true. But after enough of 'em, tha death don't shake yu's a rush!
  • Crapsack World: Oh, in so many ways, to name a few: This world's fairies want to kill you (and they can, in an extremely gruesome fashion) if you live in a city; demons, zombies and necromancers are a constant issue; civilization is run by woefully incompetent nobility; there are eldritch abominations running wild, and, to top it all off, the two greatest heroes in the land are a pair of sociopathic, money driven, extremely violent assholes.
  • Colossus Climb: Shorty kills the worm-thing by climbing its sides, chopping his way into its head and rooting around in there until it dies.
  • Cute and Psycho: The fairies. Most of their dialogue wouldn't be out of place in a children's fairy tale, except when they get angry or upset. And there's the fact they've murdered people in cold blood, and planned on killing pretty much everyone to restore nature.
  • Due to the Dead: Fjalo is determined to get the Chancellor's body back for proper burial. He doesn't care how.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The giant worm-thing from the first arc. Oh, and after they kill it, all the people it's eaten come pouring out as zombies.
    Baldy: Woah. Now that's a leech.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Baldy's revolver is pretty much the only practical firearm in the world because it's actually from Earth.
    • Aside from him (and some secret group he's insinuated to be a member of) the rest of the world doesn't even know what gunpowder is. It's hilarious for him to keep pointing guns at people who don't get that he's threatening them.
  • Fastball Special: Baldy throws Shorty up a tower at one point.
  • Funetik Aksent: Shorty's Scottish accent causes this occasionally.
  • Funny Background Event: the townspeople's screaming as the giant attacks includes gems such as "Throw prisoners and the homeless at it!", "My leg is on fire again!" and "Has anyone seen my pants?".
  • Gentle Giant: He's still a ruthless Blood Knight, but Baldy is the softer-spoken, more intelligent, and far more emotionally stable of the two.
  • Glamour Failure: Usually, Baldy's gun, being a weapon given to him by an Eldritch Abomination, is unremarked on by the people of this world. But, when Baldy points his gun in someone's face long enough, people start to question just what the hell it is he's pointing in their face. Observe
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Both protagonists. They don't actually care why the problem exists, as long as they get their coppers.
    • The "Tavern Tales" guest comics tend to derail them into straight up sociopathic heroes, doing things like killing zombies even after they've been turned back into humans, since that's what they were hired to do.
  • Hook Hand: Captain Cherry
  • Idiot Hero: Both of the protagonists, although Shorty more so than Baldy.
    Readers: Why does the human [fill in the blank]?
    Writers: Because he's not very smart.
    Readers: Why does the dwarf [fill in the blank]?
    Writers: Because he's stupid.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: They aren't really, but pretending to be is an excellent interrogation tactic.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Gizzard.
  • Instrument of Murder: In one side story there's a whole band of those. Axe blades in a lute, hidden sword in a flute, harp doubles as a bow, and hurdy gurdy is a flamethrower.
  • Mushroom Samba: Shorty got a truly epic one from the poisoned stew.
  • The Napoleon: Shorty has such a Hair-Trigger Temper that Baldy often has to restrain him.
  • Nature Hero: Baldy is supposedly one, it's part of some vague prophecy he has no idea about. The fairies are this trope gone wrong.
  • The Need for Mead: The Skullkickers spend a lot of time in taverns. In "Eighty Eyes on an Evil Island", they visit The Gizzard, which is every Fantasy Tavern ever. Literally.
  • No Name Given: Their names will appear when you're least expecting it. Until then, feel free to call them Baldy and Shorty. According the author, this is because in his experience, two close friends don't often call each other by name when it's just the two of them.
    • We eventually learn their names. Baldy is Rex Maraud and Shorty is Rolf Copperhead.
  • The Nicknamer: Shorty tends to make up his own vaguely respectful titles for nobility he interacts with, such as "your richness" or "your formalness".
  • Omake: There's almost always some sort of bonus at the end of the book, from D&D stats to paper cutouts to a tasty sounding stew recipe.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Shorty. Beard? Check. Axe user? Check. Scottish accent? Check. Loves booze? Double check. Name involving vaguely Norse origins and/or metal Rolf Copperhead? Check.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: The creators have stated that if a monster isn't copyrighted, the Skullkickers world probably has some.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: "Yeesh! Whoever heard of a fat werewolf?!" It also transforms at will, can still talk as a werewolf and bursts into green flames when it dies.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The corpse collectors have a huge zombie with Too Many Mouths, known as Chop-Chop.
  • Pirate Girl: The mercenaries stow away on a pirate ship with an all-female crew in #13 of the comic book.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shorty and Baldy respectively.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Baldy thinks so.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Shorty takes the comic's ubiquitous Unsound Effects to the next level in this strip: he says "Stagger, stagger... crawl, crawl..." as he staggers along a beach — then stops mid-word when he spots something unexpected. (This may be a Shout-Out to Yellowbeard.)
  • Signature Sound Effect: KRAKOW! for Baldy's gun.
  • Shout-Out: Sort of, the Q&A mentions that if you think a character comes from a book, movie, game etc., the answer is "Yeah, we like that game too".
    • The third Tavern Tales comic has a scene where they fight zombified versions of the kids from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.
  • Strip Buffer: The comic started out in print, and still has plenty of strips waiting to be uploaded.
  • Squick: Shorty manages to nauseate an entire royal court with his song about the ideal Dwarven woman. invoked
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Shorty is facing a half-dozen guards with swords, and proceeds to lecture and mock them on how his axe is a better weapon. Then Baldy shows up behind them and kills them all with his handgun. After he rejoins Shorty, more guards show up with bows. The pair look at each other, and Baldy says what the soldiers really need is a handgun...
  • Title Drop: Shorty kicks in a giant's skull. It must be seen to be believed.
  • Trust Password: When Shorty and Baldy make a stop in a tavern while hunting a doppelganger, Shorty suggests establishing a trust password, so that they will know if the doppelganger is impersonating the other. Baldy dismisses all Shorty's suggestions... and kills the false "Shorty" on the spot. As it happens, they'd already established such a password.
  • Unsound Effect: All over the place. In fact, it's a minority of pages that don't have one somewhere.
    • This page is a particularly funny example.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Defied.
    Writers: T'would suck, verily. Thine Englishe prof doth not read thee Skullekickerse.