Van Von Hunter is a weekly, hand drawn parody-manga begun in 2002 by Cleveland, Ohio-based artists Mike Schwark and Ron Kaulfersch of Pseudomé Studio. It has since been published in newspapers, books, and as a webcomic. The story takes place in the land of Dikay, a country fraught with undeath, and focuses on the warrior Van Von Hunter and his "never-ending fight against evil...stuff". The opening of the series and Von Hunter's presence gives the series a Castlevania-like feel, but essentially the comic spoofs role-playing games, fantasy creatures and folklore (in one instance Von Hunter slays an Irish pixie), among other things.
The series has been released in three printed volumes by Tokyopop in North America, after Van Von Hunter: Circlet of Necromancy won a first-place trophy and $1,000 in Tokyopop's first Rising Stars of Manga contest. The manga series runs a storyline that takes place after the events in the webcomic.
In summer 2006, Van Von Hunter started a 6-month run of the Sunday newspapers. It was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, with about 30 papers in North America and one in Sweden publishing the strip, including the Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Detroit News, The Oregonian, The Vancouver Sun, and the Toronto Sun. Van von Hunter was the second Tokyopop manga to be syndicated to newspapers. The first was Peach Fuzz by Jared Hodges and Lindsay Cibos.
The comic's anniversary falls on Valentine's Day (February 14), which is jokingly referred to as Von Hunter Day on the site (after Van decided that anyone who didn't want to celebrate Valentine's Day should have an alternative).
- Van Von Hunter - The hero of our story, Von Hunter is a jovial and easygoing adventurer who, for whatever reason, is dedicated to battling the forces of evil. He always introduces himself as "Van Von Hunter, mighty warrior and hunter of evil... stuff!" While not the sharpest sword in the armory, Von Hunter makes up for his shortcomings with irrepressible optimism, a strong sense of justice, a certain degree of cunning, and excellent armed-combat skills. Changed his name to Hunter to suit his profession; he was originally named Van Von Vaughn.
- Van Von Hunter's Sidekick - A lovely young woman whom Von Hunter rescued from Count Disdain one fine day. Until the day she visited Von Hunter's mansion and was accidentally hit on the head with the flat of a battleaxe, she never got a chance to introduce herself. Afterwards, she lost her memory and was unable to introduce herself. She tags along with Von Hunter because she has nowhere else to go. This sidekick doesn't do much fighting, but her common sense has thankfully saved Von Hunter's bacon more than once. Recently, she became willingly engaged to Prince Lesley—though only because she wants to be a princess. However, she appears to have ended the relationship after learning the Prince's real name.
- Prince Lesley Mortermer Lemorte - Better known by his own ill-chosen title, the Flaming Prince rules over Dikay Kingdom at the wish of his truly wicked father. He is Van Von Hunter's self-proclaimed sworn nemesis, and, fortunately for our hero, is even dimmer than Von Hunter himself. Enjoys crushing random objects in his hand. The Flaming Prince, in his vendetta against Von Hunter, employs ghastly minions to dispose of him, including mummies, skeletons, a fearsome Beast, and even goblins. Not a one has proved useful so far, aside from a goblin-run bakesale to restore the kingdom's treasury. Recently, he has kidnapped Von Hunter's sidekick, intending to force her to marry him. However, his plan is currently stalling while his doomsday device warps reality. It the most recent comic, it has been hinted that his father (or another relative) is a vampire
- The Man in the Dark Glasses - The Flaming Prince's answer to Von Hunter's sidekick, only male and much more cooperative with his employer's idiocy. He is actually less a servant than the Prince's right-hand man; providing encouragement, thoughtful advice, and random things to crush, he's really the glue that holds the kingdom together. Considering that he has never received thanks for his support, this is impressive in itself. Webcomic has hinted he has a name; "Better than your name," the Flaming Prince says to his servant after Sidekick makes fun of the prince's name.
- The Archmage Ariana Rael - A cute little girl who blew up her village when they tried to feed her to a dragon, she was hired by the Flaming Prince as a secret weapon. When Von Hunter arrived to do battle with the Prince, Ariana was supposed to destroy him with her powerful pyromancy, the Mega-Destruction Flare. Instead, she simply blew up everything surrounding him. Ari ended up traveling with our heroes for a time, until they discovered that she was evil and ditched her. One could hardly blame them: Ari drinks, smokes and blows things up with reckless abandon, all the things girls shouldn't do. Recently, she enrolled at Warthogs School of Magic to steal whatever powerful item they might possess. While failing to obtain the Philopher's Stone, she has learned a spell even worse than the Flare, Apoxageddon.
- Vengeance Joe - No one really knows who this man is—besides the name "Vengeance Joe" -- or where he comes from. But one thing is certain: once angered, nothing will stop him from finding his revenge. His list of grudges is long and varied, ranging from a staircase (for tripping him) to a tree (for getting in his way) to even the blissfully ignorant Von Hunter (for not introducing himself as they passed each other on the street). He is now questing to carry out his vengeance on Von Hunter by destroying all that the righteous warrior cares for. He is allergic to walnuts.
There are many types of monsters in Von Hunter's world, though not all are very fearsome.
- Zombies - Zombies seem to get appointed for the jobs that no-one else wants in Von Hunter's world, from lawyers to accountants. They also display lower than average intelligence which makes them more harmful than useful. Wanted posters in zombie-infested woods can be seen as "zombie deflectors".
- Orcs - Used to comprise a large portion of the prince's army before being wiped out by Ari. Like seen in most medium, they are large and dangerous looking. The prince prefers them as servants over goblins for obvious reasons.
- Goblins - More cute than deadly, goblins wear hats and outfits that make them resemble Christmas Elves to a degree. Regardless they are by far the most useful of the prince's forces (despite his apparent dislike for them) as they fill some of the menial chores, such as bar-tending, can be bizarrely versatile, and were able to restore the kingdom's finances through bakesales. They are apparently talented chefs, and mesmerized Von Hunter's Sidekick with brownies in the print version.
- Mummies - Similar to zombies but less useful as they are wrapped too tightly and can not move very quickly.
- The Beast - Supposedly unleashed to kill Von Hunter, this minotaur-like monster, after being locked up for millennia, immediately began hogging a near by toilet. Soon after he got stuck in a brunch-line and was later set on fire by a demon before the Prince's doomsday device turned it into a potted plant. In the book, he had a case of food poisoning.
- Vampires- Vampires are undead beings, though not always humans, with fangs and pointed ears. They feed on blood and turn to dust when staked through the heart. Vampires are the rulers of the unnamed country were the webcomic opens.
- Ghouls- Ghouls are bald, and have pointed ears, fangs and nails. Ghouls eat humans and founded the country the webcomic opens in.
- Trolls- Large and grotesque looking creature seen at a monster's bar.
- Leprechaun- Tiny little men with beards and pointed ears.
- Dragons- Giant lizard-like creatures with bat-like wings and horns.
- Werewolves- People who transform into half-wolf monsters during the full moon.
- Sasquatch- A large, hairy, ape-like creature.
- Pollywacker- A Script error monster in the Mysterious forest of the accursed valley of the Twelve Severed Heads, who terrorized the Valley until von Hunter killed it.
- Gargoyles- Large winged monsters called "stoners" by the Prince. The Gargoyles of Von Hunter's world behave similar to stereotypical stoner teenagers.
- Bugs- The Insects (and most likely arachnids like spiders) are sentient creatures with their own society. They are still just as small, however. Their leader, Lord Chitin, was inadvertently killed by the Flaming Prince early on.
- Demons- The only demon seen in the webcomic is a large and ferocious-looking monster, similar in appearance to the Balrog. However, it is comforts the Beast when The Flaming Prince scolds it and is used to serve hot drinks.
- Hybrids- To combat Von Hunter, The Flaming Prince had several combinations of monsters created. These were: a goblin-orc creature (a fat goblin), a weresasquatch (A very hairy creature that would get even hairier during the full moon.), and a combination of five dragons (a five-headed dragon whose heads attacked one another).
- In webcomic 51, there is a reference to the manga Rurouni Kenshin.
- In webcomic 75 (VVH Day), all the main characters dress up as Final Fantasy characters. Including: Squall (FF8), Edea (FF8), Kujo, Black Mage
- In webcomic 99, there are a bunch of swords from various stories. Including: Alita's Butterfly Sword from Battle Angel Alita, The Sword of the King from Lord of the Rings, and a sign for Lightsaber battery packs.
- In webcomic 159, Van Von Hunter dresses up as Braveheart.
- In webcomic 160, Flaming Prince summons the Balrog to put poison in Van Von Hunter's tea.
- In webcomic 186, the cast is redressed to look like the characters from Slayers.
- In webcomic 193, Ari stumbles upon a school called "Warthogs", a reference to Hogwarts from Harry Potter.
- In webcomic 196, Mr. Kimura from Azumanga Daioh, talks to Ari at "Warthogs", while Tomo, Kagura, and Osaka pose in the background.
- In webcomic 198, Hairy and Ari use alchemy to summon a sandwich while next to Al's Armor from Fullmetal Alchemist.
- In webcomic 203, Edward and Al from Fullmetal Alchemist steal the Philosopher's Stone from Warthogs.
- In webcomic 208, Ari is attacked by a pair of robbers, who mistake her for "The famous robber killer Lisa Reverse", a reference to Lina Inverse of Slayers.
- In webcomic 212, Von Hunter's sidekick's exact opposite appears and introduces herself as Laluchka Wong Hau Peplu Tivrusky, a reference to Cowboy Bebop's character Edward Wong Hau Peplu Tivrusky the Fourth.
- In webcomic 214 and 216, Von Hunter's evil double is given fake facial hair, a reference to Bender's double Flexo, who also had a goatee and was presumed by all other characters to be evil.
- In webcomic 226, all the characters are drawn in a Peanuts theme.
- Army of Darkness
- Two characters based on Fullmetal Alchemist characters Ed and Al make a surprise attempt to steal the Philosopher's Stone at Warthogs. They later appear in the third volume of the print version, where the older brother's title is given as "The Partial Plate-Metal Paladin." He is also called short, a recurring joke in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- The comic has made multiple references to Slayers and the apparent link between the series (such as when Ari was attacked by a pair of robbers, who stopped their attack when they mistake her for "The famous robber killer" known as "Lisa Reverse", a reference to Lina Inverse of Slayers.
- Several Hellsing jokes pepper the print version, from an "anti-midian crossbow" of such massive size that it crumbles under its own weight to a shield that bears the "Boo-Doo" inscription from the Valentine brothers assault.
- In the third book (as first seen in an early preview on the comic's website) Van Von Hunter is at a fighting tournament with the main villain of the second print book. The shorter of two announcers states the king has donated a magical suzu bean which is a reference to the Senzu bean of Dragon Ball fame.
- Krillin, from Dragonball and Dragonball Z, makes a cameo as an extremely ugly statue, defending a town.
- The third volume of the print version briefly features a fighter named "Cheetoes," whose name and appearance parody Goku of Dragonball Z.
- The comic has made two references to Dracula so far: in the web comic a vampire named Count Dracular (whom Sidekick momentarily confuses with Dracula) and in the print comic, Von Hunter owns the diary of a vampire hunter named Lincoln Dan Helshing (a reference to Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula).
- Furthermore, the two aforementioned announcers can be seen as references to either Iron Chef or Kinnikuman.
- Van Von Hunter volume 1. ISBN 1-59532-692-8. TOKYOPOP. 2005-05-10
- Van Von Hunter volume 2. ISBN 1-59532-693-6. TOKYOPOP. 2005-09-13
- Van Von Hunter volume 3. ISBN 1-59532-694-4. TOKYOPOP. 2006-12-12
Carlo Santos of Anime News Network stated: "For those who have grown tired of the fantasy genre's ridiculous self-importance and constantly recycled clichés, Van Von Hunter is the antidote, attacking these clichés with irreverent fervor. However, in doing so it becomes something of a cliché itself, relying on a predictable comedic approach and putting its characters in overused situations—not to mention that the whole adventure-comedy thing has been done plenty of times before."
- ↑ Giddens, Tharon (July 9, 2006). "Vampire hunter has stake in paper". The Augusta Chronicle, Pg. G3.
- ↑ Publishers Weekly Staff (March 17, 2003). "Rising Star Winners; Battle Royale Ahead". Publishers Weekly, Pg. 28.
- ↑ Levy, Stu (Publisher) (April 2003). Rising Stars of Manga, Vol. 1, Los Angeles: Tokyopop. ISBN 1-59182-224-6 Pg. 32
- ↑ Memmott, Carol (December 29, 2005). "Comics pages make room for manga; Newspapers target the young". USA Today, Pg. 1D.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Chin, Richard (February 5, 2006). "Funnies fans, prepare to meet manga". St. Paul Pioneer Press, Pg. 1E.
- ↑ Carlo Santos (16 January 2007). "Van Von Hunter GN 3 - Review -". Anime News Network. Retrieved 23 November 2009.