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Wadsworth Zane: I'm an encyclopedia man, Dr Angstrom. A man of science, not superstition. I've found behaviors that improve circumstances in my life! Like a scientist would! Dr. Angstrom: And these behaviors protect you from ghosts. Wadsworth:Yes!
Broodhollow is a webcomic by Kris Straub, creator of Starslip, Candle Cove, and Chainsawsuit.Wadsworth Zane, an Encyclopedia Atlantica salesman in the '30s who suffers from anxiety and compulsive behaviors, receives a letter telling him a very distant relative died. He stands to inherit some much needed money, but must make a trip to the small town of Broodhollow to learn more about his inheritance.While there he meets a few citizens of Broodhollow and begins to believe that there is something sinister at work in this town. Important characters include:Dr. Klaus Angstrom: A psychoanalyst who has befriended Wadsworth and is trying to help him deal with his anxiety issues.Iris Bellweather: A teenager assisting at her father's law firm. She is familiar with Wadsworth's case and is friendly and helpful to him.The Bottlefly Boys: A local 'gang' of similarly sized men who work at the Bottlefly Mill.Rutherford Planchett: An obstructive businessman who was waiting to buy Wadsworth's inheritance. He is very abrasive to Wadsworth and believes he is a con-man.Mayor Ogden Osgood: A pleasant old man who takes an interest in Wadsworth
Adorkable: Wadsworth's crippling neuroses are so gosh darned endearing.
Agent Scully: Angstrom steadfastly refuses to believe Zane or Iris about the supernatural occurrences around town, trying to explain everything as either some kind of delusion, or as perfectly normal occurrences amplified by fear and panic.
Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Well, the Society of the Skull and Shovels seems fairly benign thus far, except for that awful, awful chanting.
Can't Hold His Liquor: Zane can't, at least when compared to the Bottlefly Boys. Which is how he winds up tripping and injuring himself, resulting in him going to the hospital.
Closed Circle: Circumstances continue to keep Wadsworth in Broodhollow for just one more day. And then another, and another. After the first chapter, Zane decides to run the Antique store most likely because he forgot why he wanted to leave in the first place.
Drunk on Milk: Because Prohibition is in full effect, people have resorted to drinking a beverage fermented from a local tree called Switchwood. It gets by the Prohibition laws because it's not alcoholic, even though it still causes inebriation.
Enclosed Space: Inverted. Zane intentionally closes every door, window and drawer in every room he stays in out of superstition. When he believes he's being chased by a ghost, he goes so far as to nail every door, window and drawer shut.
Framing Device: The comic starts with Wadsworth on Dr Angstrom's couch, talking about how he came to Broodhollow. As of now, the events of the comic have caught up to the framing device. Kris mentioned that he was using this trope to "reassure" readers that Zane would be alive and well following the events of the comic. Now that we are past the framing device, anything could happen.
Glad I Thought of It: Angstrom doesn't think much of Freud, but his concept of the "infrapsyche" is pretty much identical to Freud's ideas about the unconscious mind.
G-Rated Drug: Switchwater, the town's substitute for alcohol. Justified in that the comic takes place during the Prohibition Era in America.
The Great Depression: The setting, which provides Wadsworth with a reason to stay in Broodhollow and run the shop he inherited.
Heroic Build: The Bottlefly Boys are all hyper-masculine, overly muscled mill workers that dwarf Wadsworth and make him feel weak by their mere presence. Thankfully, they're also fairly good natured, and step in to help whenever danger arises.
Herr Doktor: Angstrom is Austrian, though not much is made of it.
History Repeats: Once Zane becomes aware of the fact that his memories have been altered, he plans to use shock and horror to restore his memory. However, he comes across an old journal that shows he already tried it once before... and it didn't work.
Particularly horrifying because his attempt to restore his memories may be tied to Maris' death.
Madness Mantra: "I am just going to close it for you. It's better closed. It needs to be closed. I need to close it." Wadsworth has some issues with things left half open.
Masquerade: Wadsworth believes that Broodhollow has this in effect because no one else notices the strange things happening.
Extra-Strength Masquerade: Broodhollowans seem incapable of remembering certain events, no matter how traumatic and conspicuous. This even includes Zane.
Mayor Pain: It's not clear what exactly Mayor Osgood's deal is, but something about him is ever so slightly off. He could be an innocent figurehead, but he seems involved in a few too many things to be a coincidence.
Mind Screw: Both for the reader and for Wadsworth. Neither is completely sure what is real and what is in Zane's head.
Sanity Strengthening: Dr. Angstrom is able to offer Wadsworth reassurance and good advice, and does a lot to help him overcome his neuroses. Sadly, Zane stops trusting him because of his skepticism, and then things get worse...
Show Within a Show: The "Cadavre" comics, which feature a French existentialist skeleton and his friend, Mort. This character also appears in Zane's dreams to give him messages.
The Shrink: Dr. Angstrom appears to be a cross between numbers 2 and 3. He renames established psychology terms so he can claim to have discovered them, but cares about Wadsworth's problems and seems to provide good advice.
Theme Naming: The Bottlefly Boys are named Maris, Morris and Maurice, which are pronounced almost identically.
Through the Eyes of Madness: It is unknown currently in the comic whether only Zane is experiencing this or if the ghosts he sees are real. There are clues that point in both directions. Panels with a red-tinted background seem to be from Zane's unreliable perspective. For instance, on Ouster Eve only the red panels depict monstrous bats, and the others show them as normal sizes and shapes. And no one else saw them but Zane.
However, Zane gets some independent confirmation from Iris, when she beats the evil out of Harker. She finds Zane after following a ghost even! Sadly, this doesn't last very long.
Town with a Dark Secret: Unlike its (in-universe, even) sister town, Ichor Falls, Broodhollow is friendly and welcoming. And ever so slightly off. For example, the town's hotel is called Hotel Umbra, residents greet each other by saying "Hello Hello Hello!" and the town celebrates many delightful holidays such as Totenkinder and Ouster Eve.
Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Zane is vehement about wanting to sell the antique shop and leave town, but Planchett refuses to buy it even at a pittance— the man is completely wedded to the idea that Zane's a swindler.
Word of God: Not of facts, but of the fact that there are facts. Kris has stated that there is a reason for everything - even the fact that the skeleton in Wadsworth's dream was French.
Of the first Wham Line example above, Kris says, "This is a very important strip." If he's referring to a way in which it it's important that ISN'T obvious...
The Worf Effect: Maris of the Bottlefly Boys is found dead in the snow, likely to establish the deadliness of a yet-unknown villain.