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The Kingfisher is a horror webcomic started in 2010 by writer and artist Kelly Martin. It can be considered a horror comic, a gay comic, and a humor comic, and takes the form of large pages with additional writing, unfolding a continuous plot.
The plot follows two main arcs. Mainly, it is about Jack Ballard, the protagonist, who is turned into a vampire and must adjust to that new life. His relationships are complicated by webs of obligation and his utter powerlessness, in the face of elder vampires. The other story is of Theodore Leighton, an abnormally powerful, eccentric vampire with a vendetta against the cabal that turned Jack. He means to destroy all of the elder vampires in a gruesome, cannibalistic fashion.
The Kingfisher currently updates twice weekly, plus bonus material on Fridays.
This webcomic contains examples of:
- Beat It by Compulsion: The progenitors have mental frailties along these lines. Theodore learns these secret weaknesses and uses them for revenge. His first victim, Inka, was compelled to count beans while he attacked her.
- The Beautiful Elite: The progenitors are born, and therefore a bit random looking or odd. Their "children" are chosen, and therefore...
- Big Fancy House: Fancy house interiors abound, almost creating a bigger sense of abnormality when the characters visit a pit.
- Body Horror: The Kingfisher features a moderate amount of body horror, especially when new vampires are born, or when a vampire assumes the form of their death or in surreal scenes.
- The Chew Toy: The character Darren seems to only serve the purpose of being humiliated for the audience's amusement.
- Crusty Caretaker: Blockhead is Theodore's Renfield, but too defiant to fit that eponymous trope. He is, however, good and crusty.
- Designated Victim: The protagonist Jack is all too frequently abused, through no fault of his own.
- Evil Virtues: Most of the villains in The Kingfisher have some redeeming quality. Notable exceptions are Tomasz and Sarah.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Various vampires from The Kingfisher see themselves as moral, with varying degrees of truth. The youngest remaining vampires - Jack, Darren, and Tristan - are essentially human, unless in a blood frenzy. Vitus is the preachiest nice-guy character in the comic.
- Grey and Grey Morality: Both Theodore and his sworn enemies - the vampire progenitors - are uncanny, manipulative, and monstrous. It's telling that the protagonist has not committed to a side.
- Happiness in Slavery: The progenitors' oldest children are usually comfortable in servitude.
- Hypnotic Eyes: Of course, these vampires can hypnotize.
- Invisible to Normals: Mortals seem to miss out on the supernatural. Asked why people don't notice them climbing on the side of buildings, Vitus tells Jack, "most people don't look up."
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Early in The Kingfisher, Helen gives Marc Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- Masquerade: Supernatural phenomena are at least somewhat Invisible to Normals, and the Circle persecutes the Crowboys with the ostensible excuse of keeping vampires secret.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: Most of the vampires in this comic show no signs of boredom or guilt at the prospect of immortality. Dragomir vampires especially seem to enjoy eternal life.
- Memory-Wiping Crew: Helen is used by Vitus as a one-woman Memory-Wiping Crew.
- Muggles: The Kingfisher has no truly important human characters. Fortunately for these muggles, they are often seduced and left alive.
- Our Vampires Are Different: There are vampire lineages with distinct powers in The Kingfisher.
- Pet the Dog: Demetri picks Jack out to be thrown into a deadly game (be a vampire or be food?) and tries to sway him with moral relativism, but he does have cute pets.
- Pro-Human Transhuman: Vampirism doesn't make one inherently evil, but the pro-human vampires are few: mainly Helen, Vitus, Jack, Tristan, and Darren. Notably, some of the least powerful characters in the story.
- Resist the Beast: Vampires in The Kingfisher risk mindless blood frenzy if they don't drink blood regularly. This isn't the focus of the story so it doesn't come up much.
- Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: The progenitors seem inherently evil. Vampires created by them seem fully able to resist evil - unless in a blood frenzy - though most become acculturated to violence as they serve the progenitors.
- Stages of Monster Grief: The young vampires in this comic are shown adjusting to their new unlife. Only one doesn't have moral issues, having been a killer in breathing days, but Nick the Cutter has other problems.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Some of the middle generation of vampires have developed loyalty to monstrous masters. This is more apparent in some characters (Sarah) than others (Vitus).
- Super Senses: Vampires in The Kingfisher seem to have all senses heightened. Occasionally a human will be differentiated in the comic with a fiery aura, which represents a vampire observing their body heat.
- Super Smoke: This seems to be a power of the Kellgren lineage. Patricia is shown using it to move quickly in Theodore's backstory (form of a mist), and Theodore himself uses it in front of Jack. Sombretas can also become a shadowy dustdevil for a short time.
- The Undead: These vampires are true undead, not the actually still alive variety.
- Undeath Always Ends: Most of the vampires in this story don't seem like they're going to fall into this trope... until they get older. The elder vampires find ways to die left and right.
- Undeathly Pallor: Pale vampires abound.
- Vampire Invitation: These are vampires that require invitation. There are degrees of invitation and other complications, most of which isn't explained in the comic unless it becomes an issue.
- Vampire Vannabe: The Kingfisher has at least one vampire wannabe, who misses her big chance and does not become a significant character: Arsonella Jones.
- Vein-O-Vision: This appears a few times in The Kingfisher, notably on one of the chapter covers.
- The Virus: In this comic the vampire condition can be communicated. It usually doesn't affect the mind of its victims directly, unless they become too hungry for blood.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Some vampires can turn into animals, animalistic monster forms, mist, and/or some kind of shadowy form. These abilities are all at will and seem limited by the vampire's lineage.
- What Have I Become?: As a story about a man that becomes a vampire, this trope pretty much had to make an appearance. Jack's story is the most explicitly shown version, but Darren also expresses the sentiment in some scenes.