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Love. Hate. Spontaneous Combustion.
Zebra Girl tells the story of three roommates (Sandra, Jack, and Crystal) whose lives are irrevocably transformed when they discover an ancient magical tome in their attic. When the book is slammed shut after an accidental demon-summoning, Sandra finds herself transformed into the eponymous Zebra Girl, a demon with black-and-white striped skin, hooves for feet, long, wicked talons, acidic bodily fluids, and the ability to set things on fire with her mind. Jack, blaming himself for the incident, devotes himself to the study of magic in hopes of finding a way to cure Sandra of her transformation, and along the way becomes a powerful archmage and the only hope of restoring magic to the world at large. (Or possibly staving off a magical apocalypse; Sandra isn't the only demon running around..) And Crystal... well, is Crystal.
Started out as a rather dark gag-a-day strip, but gets afflicted with Cerebus Syndrome in record time, as Sandra and the others discover that being transformed into/living with a demon is most emphatically not all fun and games. By all accounts, this has only made it better, as the storyline takes various twists and turns and the world gradually warps around the protagonist trio, thrusting them into the middle of a veritable supernatural maelstrom that they attract simply by existing in their current states.
Zebra Girl provides examples of:
- Alice Allusion: Mabel, to the point that she may very well be Alice; white rabbits, falling down holes, misremembering poetry, winning her own thimble in a race ... even her name alludes to a scene where Alice becomes unsure of her identity and wonders if she's a girl she knows instead.
- Alternate Universe: The "Angels With Dirty Fur" arc, where the gang is trapped in a parallel cartoon universe gone horribly, horribly wrong.
- Animated Actors: Sam's home universe is built around the trope ... or used to be, anyway.
- The Atoner: Jack.
- Cerebus Retcon: Jack. Fire. Apparently he thinks he deserves it.
- More importantly, he feels it relieves Sandra of her stress and keeps her from falling over the edge.
- Cerebus Syndrome (Amazingly, considering how dark the comic began)
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mad Mabel from the Subfusc. Implied to be either an imaginary friend or an alternate personality who was shed from someone in the real world, she has trouble making it through a whole thought without several bizarre tangents.
- Color-Coded Wizardry: Made even more impressive because the comic is black and white.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Struggling against this is a major part of the series.
- The Ditz: Crystal.
- Drool Hello: A variant where the victim is smoking and the monster coughs.
- Enemy Within: Mr. Chalk, who haunts Sandra's dreams and taunts her with her lost humanity.
- Evil Overlord: Tool.
- Face Heel Turn: Sandra, one of the very few examples of this with the main character of the strip.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: It took a long time to happen, but this may wind up being Sandra's ultimate fate.
- Fully-Embraced Fiend: Sandra pretty much lost this battle once the professor pushed her to it, though there seem to be forces in play that are struggling to remind her of her humanity now that she got sucked into Limbo.
- Genre Savvy: Sam, extremely so; it comes from his time on a TV show.
- The rest of the group has acquired a good supply, as evidenced by how every last one of them guesses Wally's true nature the instant they hear his name.
- Giant Mook: "Iyam a gigantic hired thug."
- Hair-Raising Hare: Black Betty.
- She and Pooka Zin are apparently members of an entire species of these, the Vorpal Pook.
- Healing Factor: Jack, a side-effect of being constantly fried and healed near the start of the comic.
- Heel Face Turn: Wally; gets lampshaded by Sam, who refers to Wally as a "classic 'switch sides' kind of character"
"Switch sides or I'll kick your ass!"
- Hellfire: Zebra Girl can summon it.
- Ironic Echo: "Doesn't it worry you that I'm not worried?"
- Knight in Sour Armor: Sam.
- Knight Templar: Prof. Broadshoulders.
- Meta Guy: Sam, to epic levels.
Tawny, immediately after Sam meets Sanda and Crystal: "God... Next you're going to tell me you've met humans!"
Sam: "I'm not going to do that. The joke where you hypothesize some really unlikely scenario and get more and more specific, not knowing you're exactly describing actual events, while I stand here all awkward from your inexplicable outburst of irony."
- Mismatched Eyes: Wally.
- Mood Whiplash: And now: HUMOR!
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: They change at will, but only during the night. They can grow to any size while transformed, and discard all excessive mass when turning back, leaving behind a pile of unidentified organic compound.
- Perky Goth: Crystal, more recently.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain
- Rhymes on a Dime: Apparently, Sam has the skill, although he uses it but rarely.
- Running Gag: Two Words: Jack. Fire.
- Schedule Slip: At this point, it's down to no more than one or, occasionally, two a month. This is not aided by Joe England's predilection for long form comics heavily shaded with crosshatching done with micron pens.
- It eventually went back to a weekly schedule, with the latest arc having a much simpler style.
- Shout-Out: A number of cameos, usually involving the Maginet.
- Somebody Else's Problem: This is how Sam goes drinking in bars and nobody even notices he has white fur and rabbit ears.
- Sugar Apocalypse: What happened to Sam's world.
- Stages of Monster Grief
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Invoked by Sam, who is a giant anthropomorphic rabbit. He actually counts on people rationalizing him as a hallucination, some guy in a costume, or whatever they can think up. He has yet to be proven wrong.
- Subverted by Sandra herself, who spends a good portion of the early comics just trying to be able to go out without attracting TOO much attention, settling on what is quite nearly an outright monk's robe with incredibly long sleeves whose hood completely covers her face in shadow. Anyone who DOES get a look at it, she explains away the facial markings as "make-up to cover up burns".
- Urban Fantasy
- Weirdness Magnet: lampshaded by Jack, who states that "magic attracts magic"
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Professor Broadshoulders, who is determined to rid the world of demons, no matter who he has to kill or damn to Hell to do it. Including himself.
- Winged Humanoid: Sandra.
- White Gloves: Sam: comes in handy when the werewolves tie him up.
- Worth It: Approached by a Giant Mook, Sandra fights back by throwing hot coffee at his crotch, he then throws her off a roof. Sandra says it was worth it.