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Webcomic / The Zombie Hunters

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Jenny (left) and Sammie (right), about to kick some undead ass

"Years after the crippling outbreak that turned most of the human population into undead, a small community of survivors have taken up residence on an island, home to the abandoned facilities of the Argus Research Campus."
— LOG ENTRY #1536

The Zombie Hunters is a Science Fiction-Horror Webcomic by Jenny Romanchuk, that started running in late 2006, and went on indefinite hiatus in early 2018. Set in the years after the Zombie Apocalypse, it was originally conceived as a private self-insert comic for herself and friends, after they featured in a funny dream involving zombies, Romanchuk posted some strips online, then decided to expand on the concept when they were well-received. It can be read here.

The comic went on hiatus in early October 2015 due to issues in Romanchuk's personal life, with an update posted in late October 2016 saying Romanchuk was hoping to resume the comic in January 2017, but unfortunately the comeback was delayed. In early August of 2017, Romanchuk posted that the comic would resume "sometime in October", with the comeback happening (very appropriately) on Halloween (October 31).

As of March 5, 2018, the comic is on indefinite hiatus, with Romanchuk tweeting on March 19 that she was unfortunately suffering from a flareup of anxiety and depression, and didn't know when or if she would be able to update the comic again.

The story centers on a motley but seasoned crew of young, government-sponsored Disaster Scavengers, (the eponymous "Zombie Hunters") all carrier Zombie Infectees dividing their time between coping with their expendable, segregated status at home, and trying not to get bitten in the wastelands filled with multiple "species" of zombies. When not fighting for their lives, searching for salvage or Plundering, they're training in New Meat, among them a half-zombie who chafes as much at having to work with his juniors as he does at their treatment of him. Alongside all this, A.R.C doctors and scientists keep working to Find the Cure! for The Virus, engineers keep technology running, Red Halos keep order, and ordinary civilians go about their lives.

It all sounds perfectly reasonable and civilized. It isn't.

The comic is rated R for violence, disturbing images, coarse language, and the occasional zomboobie.

This webcomic provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: The Berserker zombie takes a particularly sadistic time in brutally torturing its victims to death. They also seem to wear Slasher Smiles and their call sounds like they are Laughing Mad.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1: Human Die-Back, but only just. In this near-future Post-Zombie Apocalypse, The Virus was a Depopulation Bomb, humans are an Endangered Species, and Earth is overrun by The Undead. The struggle to avoid becoming a full-bore Class 2 is a driving force in the plot.
  • Art Evolution: In the early chapters, the character designs were simpler, with some Animesque stylistic conventions, particularly during comedic moments. Beginning at Chapter Three, and coinciding with the plot's turn for the dark, the designs become more realistic and the atmosphere more gritty and detailed.
  • Art Shift: The details get cranked up to 11 whenever a zombie shows up. On the other hand, Animesque facefaults still manifest at given comedic moments.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Jasper all but tells Maureen this just before the outbreak on the ARC expands in earnest.
    Maureen: "Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you?"
    Jasper: "I wish I was! Everybody's got their own agenda. Mercer's trying for a cure, Masao doesn't think we should leave the island at all. You don't want Arthur agreeing with that. And Ilea? She thinks she's got a solution to the infected on the Island already."
  • Author Avatar:
Show your best sides at the same time! Spine Removal!
  • Chaotic Stupid: Chaotic Shortbus; one of the Red Halo guys riding with Maureen levies this accusation against Jenny and her cadre in the first arc. Maureen doesn't disagree.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Milo and James turn up in the ARC propaganda film a full chapter ahead of their introduction.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Katie, again. She's always been a little off, but it's recently been revealed that she's a severe PTSD-case and hallucinates zombies when frightened. Her style of being friendly is likely a result of this.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The next time we see Daniel after the kids are sent off of the island, he had just been subjected to an extensive session of one of these. Ilea promptly executes him once she learns nothing from torturing him, and it's implied that Dr. Mercer is next.
  • Comfort the Dying: One rare variety of zombie is infamous for seeking out hopelessly sick and injured humans, trying to comfort them, protecting them from other zombies, and finally delivering a clean Mercy Kill.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Katie. She goes from a skirt-wearing, well-manicured young woman to an unkempt Bad Ass Long Coat tomboy in the span of ~11 months. Milo's death probably has something to do with it. Pretty sure James's death didn't help either.
    • As bad as those are, they probably can't beat Katie disemboweling a Raider. With a sword.
  • In one page, she hands Charlie a book to read her, telling him that chapter 3 is the best part. That book is titled "Ebola: A History."
  • The Dead Have Eyes: A new Basilisk zombie who has had his entire face eaten off is still able to use a paralyzing gaze on his victim, employing only his empty eye sockets.
  • Death of a Child: A short strip details a kid running away from the zombies after the initial outbreak. Eventually they find an abandoned house in the woods, the kid goes to sleep hiding under a bed and is woken by a zombie dragging him out. It's heavily implied the kid is killed.
  • Deer in the Headlights: "Freezing up" in in-world slang. The characters have started taking bets over whether newbie zombie hunters will do this when confronted with the slavering hordes for the first time.
  • Milo.
  • And the kid with the Dinosaur Plush in a side arc.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mrs. Walters, Jameson's mom, since she is the only member of her family left after her son was violently killed.
  • Facial Horror: One way to go due to hungry zombies. Jameson bites it this way.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The infected live in roach and rat infested barracks, unlike the more mobile noninfected, and only the infected are expected to serve as Zombie Hunters.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jenny makes her attitude towards Charlie veryobvious.
    • The infected in general suffer this, as they are not nearly treated as well as the non-infected people in the ARC. To the point that one of the leaders of the ARC, Ilea, evidently has a "solution" for them.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: Humans infected with the dormant form of The Virus live under severely restricted conditions for the safety of the uninfected.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jasper, as any politeness he has towards the group is either sarcastic or only a means to underscore what an asshole he is. Plus, he is perfectly content to lie to Jenny's face about Milo's "accident."
    • Ilea as well, as she politely asks Masao to help the guards clean up the guest room that she just got done torturing and executing Daniel in.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Milo will die. We already knew this because we are introduced to him after he's died. We see him only through flashbacks. A lot of them. Actually, now he HAS died.
  • Foreshadowing: In spades.
  • Gilligan Cut: When the sirens start going off at the ARC, Katie assures Charlie - who has no idea what to do - that everything is going to be fine. The very next page features a Spitter crouched on a table in a public ARC area, who caves in someone's head with a vomit shot.
  • Glass Cannon: Crawlers. Just as infectious as the rest, but nigh-harmless to the experienced. One bite is still fatal.
  • The Heart: Sammie. She can sometimes appear like it. Subverted, as she is not this.
  • Hero Antagonist: The main cast is often right off Anti-Hero generally. The Red Halos and zombie hunters don't get along. The main Halo we see is Jasper, the resident Jerkass guy.
  • How Many Fingers?
    Sammie: How many hallucinatory fingers am I holding up?
    Katie: *flips Sammie the bird*
    Sammie: Atta girl!
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Jenny is quite proficient with a shovel
    • Sammie, as seen in the page image, used a brick. The below quickly followed.
  • Is That What He Told You?: Jenny has one of these going on in regard to Milo's death. Arthur refers to it as an "accident," when really he ordered the hit himself.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Invoked as a chapter title
  • It Can Think: These zombies are intelligent enough as a whole that they have their own language, and some types such as Berserkers are not only smart enough to show the hallmarks of tool use such as opening doors and wielding weapons, but they also possess the capability to learn.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: All the veteran zombie hunters have had most of their joy and optimism ground out of them.
  • Jerk Ass Woobie:
    • Charlie can be an uptight, surly jerk to pretty much everyone around him, but it's hard not to feel sorry for the poor guy as he earnestly tries to get along and relate to his new squadmates as they coldly rebuff him. Megan's pretty much the only real friend he has, and the only person who treats him like a human being.
    • In theory, all of the main cast can be considered this. Many of them are Wastelanders, who were brought to the ARC after having survived on their own in the wasteland for a very long time, and some of whom had traumatic lives even before that (like Sam, whose parents were extremely abusive). And then, upon being brought onto the island, are treated badly by the ARC and by the island's populace. Even Milo, who is easily the nicest person on the team, is notably a Knight in Sour Armor as a result of all this.
  • Noisy Guns: Averted: a gun runs out of ammunition with no accompanying sound whatsoever
  • Noodle Incident: "The Accident," the cast's shorthand for referring to how Milo died. Turns out Japser murdered him.
  • Older Sidekick: The role Charlie's handlers have forced him into alongside more experienced Zombie Hunters, all of whom are under thirty. His resentment is palpable.
  • Put on a Bus: Daniel. He hasn't been seen since the comic began its epic flashback storyline. Justified in that he was apparently a new addition to the group—ala-Jameson—at the start of the story, and the flashback hasn't caught up to his introduction yet.
  • The Reveal: It turns out Jasper killed Milo, apparently under Arthur's orders.
  • Rule of Scary: Why do zombies want to eat you? Why do some want to torture you to death and others want to give you a nice deadly cuddle? Because it's fucking scarier that way, that's why.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Apparently part of the deal Maureen makes with Jasper to get her friends to safety after a botched mission.
  • Self-Insert Fic: The principle characters are based upon the comic's artist and friends (right down to their hometowns).
  • Shoot the Medic First: Played With. Part of how Sammie survived out in the wasteland for as long as she did was because doctors and medics are increasingly rare, and so were treated very well by survivors. As such, nobody shot the medic, even rival groups, because said medic could be just as useful to them as they were to the group they were against. It's why Sammie faked being one. She did, however, get very good at it through field experience and sheer trial and error.
    Sammie: "No one shoots the medic. You know doctor shit? You get treated like royalty out there. I caught onto this and faked it. ...I didn't know anything about doctor shit. I just put on a medic badge and did shit I saw on TV. Some of it worked, some of it didn't. Eventually I got kinda good at it."
  • Shout-Out:
    "It's a brick flai..."
    "No. No it's not."
    "Well, Jenny. I have something to tell you. I see dead people."
  • Skeleton Government: Jasper elucidates this to Marlene during their date. And there's trouble in the ranks, because Arthur is losing his grip on reality and running the ARC, and the other three have designs on running things themselves.
    Jasper: "Look, d'you pay attention to how they run things here? It's just Arthur, and then Ilea, Omar, and Masao. That's it."
  • Slasher Smile: The Manual's Berserker is a Most Triumphant ExampleCharlie had one, but he got better.
  • Sour Supporter: Charlie, chafing against his position as Older Sidekick and the foolhardiness and immaturity of his more seasoned, but much younger teammates.
  • Undeathly Pallor: Apart from his mismatched zombie eye, this also more subtly marks Charlie as undead.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: According to Sammie, the perfect place in which to smuggle beer. Jenny tries it, but... well...
  • The Virus: D'uh. Subverted as a Zombie Infectee isn't killed by it, but they will turn upon dying (of natural causes or otherwise).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ilea. According to her character bio on the site itself, she frequently inquires about the lives of the people on the island, and infected and uninfected alike tend to open up to her about it despite her status as a Red Halo. Her introduction to the story proper involves her calmly torturing and executing Daniel, and according to Jasper she has a "solution" for the infected on the ARC.
  • Wham Episode: The zombie outbreak on the ARC, followed by the revelation that Megan was murdered. The crew is also immediately dispatched on a mission to get them off the island, and it's implied that they might be no longer welcome.
  • Wham Line: Page 603 has two in rapid succession.
    • "Good, then I can make this quick. You're all leaving the island immediately."
    • "There's a lot going on at ARC that you don't know about. Megan's death wasn't an accident."
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapters 5 to 21. The comic took six whole years to slowly work its way back to the present, but it finally got there.
  • White Shirt of Death: Subverted. The half-zombie is dressed in bright white - and manages to stay that way - despite his constant wading through blood and gore. He explains how this is possible while during a "fan mail" strip : he uses Gain laundry detergent between every panel.
  • Zombie Gait: Some zombies do the requisite shuffle and moan, but others are swift, silent, and lethal. Mercies are graceful and patient, while Berserkers are swift, loud, cruel, and lethal.
  • Zombie Infectee: Infected humans "turn" shortly after death. The introduction of zombie saliva into the bloodstream (usually through a bite) causes an active infection which is fatal within hours. But contact with any other bodily fluid merely causes a latent infection in which the Virus remains dormant and has no real effect on the victim's health. Infected humans may spread the Virus to others but they will not die of it themselves.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: The comic features 7 different subspecies of zombie, one of which can attack by vomiting a sort of corrosive poison up to 50 ft. Suitably, they are called spitters.