Skin Horse

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Skin Horse
Author(s) Shaenon K. Garrity, Jeffrey Channing Wells
Update schedule Updating daily, filler on Sundays
Launch date 2007-12-31
End Date Ongoing
Genre Comedy, Science Fiction

Skin Horse is a webcomic written by Shaenon K. Garrity and Jeffrey Channing Wells, and drawn by Garrity. The storylines center around the misadventures of the staff of a little-known government agency working on "Project Skin Horse". The strip started on December 31, 2007 and updates every day of the week (although the Sunday updates consist of fan art, sketches, and background). Skin Horse is part of Webcomics Nation, where it is free to read. It is also syndicated on GoComics, where the past month's updates are free to read, with further archives available to subscribers.


An unnamed secret government agency is responsible for "Project Skin Horse", a program for rescuing and resettling non-human sapient beings created by mad scientists. For example, in the "Cowardly Lion" story arc, a lion augmented with human intelligence is roaming loose in a zoo. Skin Horse field operatives subdue, transport, and resettle the lion in a sanctuary for sapient large cats.[1] The rescued sapient beings are referred to as "clients". With the exception of the character Tip, the employees of the agency are themselves rescued former clients. An informal name for the organization is "Black Ops Social Services".[2]

Unlike Garrity's earlier comic, Narbonic, mad scientists do not play a central role. Rather, their monstrous creations do.

Although the strip was conceived by and is drawn by Garrity, she and Wells co-write, brainstorming ideas together, with some scripts written by Garrity and others by Wells.[3]

The title is taken from a character name in the 1922 children's book The Velveteen Rabbit,[4] where one passage reads: "'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse, 'It's a thing that happens to you ... Then you become Real.'"



Dr. Dennis "Tip" Wilkin, a relatively new field operative and the only fully human employee of Project Skin Horse, is a decorated former captain of the U.S. Army, a trained psychologist, a passionate cross-dresser and an almost supernatural seducer.


Captain's Fancy Valentine Sweetheart is a genetically modified sapient dog, created by a mad scientist. She now works for Project Skin Horse as a field operative. She is generally the most clear-thinking and rational team member, but periodically exhibits feelings of insecurity.


Unity is a "necrotic" being: dead tissue animated through a secret military process. A field operative for Project Skin Horse, she is Sweetheart's best friend. Unity was developed to be a bio-weapon, but proved to be too hard to control and was therefore moved to Project Skin Horse. Unity is good-natured, likes guns, and is inclined to use gratuitously unnecessary violence.


The administrative leader of Project Skin Horse, Gavotte is a collective being consisting of a swarm of bees that thinks with a single female mind. Most of the other agency employees are nervous around her, Tip in particular since he is fatally allergic to bee stings.[5]

Moustachio the Thinkonium[edit]

A 19th century wind-up automaton of destruction with a clockwork brain, Moustachio is the receptionist at Project Skin Horse. He has a limited long-term memory and needs wax cylinders from cold storage to remember his earlier days. His legs were removed by the British government as a safety precaution. He thinks and speaks like a 19th century gentleman and has little regard for or knowledge of new technology.

Nick Zerhakker[edit]

A young adult, introduced in the "I Can Fly" story arc,[6] video-game obsessive Nick was unknowingly co-opted into "Project Whirligig". The black military program intended to weaponize him by secretly installing him in a virtual reality, then removing his brain and implanting it in a V-22 Osprey–a military tiltrotor aircraft–and finally subconsciously training Nick to control the Osprey as if it were his own body. In spite of Nick's love of shooting virtual bad guys, he abhors the thought of killing real people, and so joined the Skin Horse team.

Minor characters[edit]


Russian black ops agent who joined the American police force after "very accidental and surprising death of Yeltsin." He was introduced in the "Cowardly Lion" story arc,[7] and later became an Annex One security guard.

Dr. Virginia Lee[edit]

Introduced in the "I Can Fly" story arc[8] as a mad scientist wannabe and member of a secret organization known only as "Anasigma". She was involved in the creation of both U.N.I.T.Y. and "Project Whirligig".

Captain Bram[edit]

A Canadian mad scientist who created Sweetheart and her pack mates, and developed a virus to afflict humans with lycanthropy. When his application to the American Kennel Club to recognize the "Genetically-Engineered Super Battle Dog" as a recognizable breed was denied, he vowed to force the organization to change its position by conquering the United States using said dogs.[9] Bram died before accomplishing his goal, however, and his corpse was reluctantly eaten by his creations.[10]

Chris and Marcie[edit]

Two nerdy scientists working for the Department of Irradiation in Annex One, Chris and Marcie are often found gaming with (and within) Nick. Tip and Marcie briefly dated until she dumped him for Chris in the "Tin Soldier" story arc.[11]

Dr. Berenice "Tigerlily" Jones[edit]

Blaxploitation-themed mad scientist brought in on a work release program to repair Moustachio during the "Brave Little Toasters" story arc.[12]

Gold Bug[edit]

The mysterious benefactor of Project Skin Horse, who is known to Gavotte.


  • Outstanding Small Press award at the 2008 Stumptown Comics Fest.[13]


  1. Skin Horse Chapter 26143, Strip 5 at Webcomics Nation
  2. Skin Horse Chapter 35741, Strip 5 at Webcomics Nation
  3. Skin Horse (official site)
  4. Skin Horse Chapter 25034, Strip 1 at WebComics Nation
  5. Skin Horse February 15, 2008 at WebComics Nation
  6. Skin Horse Chapter 32477 at WebComics Nation
  7. Skin Horse Chapter 25110 at WebComics Nation
  8. Skin Horse Chapter 32982, Strip 2 at WebComics Nation
  9. Skin Horse July 11, 2009 at WebComics Nation
  10. Skin Horse June 28, 2008 at WebComics Nation
  11. Skin Horse Chapter 41561 at WebComics Nation
  12. Skin Horse Chapter 43677 at WebComics Nation
  13. "Stumptown Trophy Winners 2008!". Stumptown Comics Fest. Retrieved on October 10, 2010.

External links[edit]