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Comic Strip / The Broons

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Jings, crivvens, help ma boab!

The Broons is a Scots comic strip that has been published in the weekly newspaper The Sunday Post since 8 March, 1936. Created by writer and editor R. D. Low and artist Dudley D. Watkins for Dundee publishers DC Thomson, the strip stars the eponymous Broon ("Brown") family who live in a tenement flat at 10 Glebe Street in the fictional town of Auchenshoogle.

The focus is on the family's generational gaps, poverty and thriftiness, miscommunication, and the everyday stresses of a family of nine sharing a tiny flat.

The strip's Scottish setting and heavy use of the Glaswegian dialect are its main selling points, so the dialogue's near-incomprehensibility to outsiders isn't really a problem. A close third is the 'nostalgia factor' of Scots retirees and working-age people. The Broons and its sister strip, "Oor Wullie", continue to sell well enough to merit annual releases in Scotland. Both strips and their sales are somewhat indicative of a recent cultural movement in Scotland which favours Scottish authors, fiction, and even history - including, if not especially, in Scottish schools.

The family itself consists of:

  • Paw: Family patriach, son of Granpaw, husband of Maw and father to all the kids. Still a working man despite getting on in years (he is gray haired and balding, but still with an impressive walrus moustache) Paw likes nothing more than a quiet life after work where he can put his feet up, smoke his pipe and maybe throw the occasional bet on the horses.
  • Maw: Although her real name is Maggie, this was only ever used once and she is otherwise only known as "Maw". Has the daunting task of keeping her home, eight children and husband in line and had her own cookbook spinoff in 2007.
  • Granpaw: Paw's widowed father. The only member of the family who doesn't live at 10 Glebe Street and instead alternates his time between sitting in the park with cronies, tending to his allotment or partaking in the general family mischief whenever he comes to visit. Shares his son's fondness for a pipe, bunnet and impressive facial hair.
  • Henry: More commonly known as "Hen," Henry is the oldest child in the family and is somewhere in the region of 30 years old. Lanky and awkward, Hen is often seen as the average office-working man who rarely gets the girl and is often taken advantage of for his height (he was once used as a clothes stand by his family)
  • Daphne: The plump, less attractive of the two Broon sisters who often ends up playing second fiddle to Maggie on double-dates. Regularly attempts to go on a diet and fails, and is often teased by Joe and Hen for her weight. Also a skilled dressmaker with an eye for a hat.
  • Joe: A handsome, sports-loving ladies man who tends to get into fights and carried home in a wheelbarrow. Fond of football and boxing and sometimes known for getting into fights with his brother Hen over a girl. Something of a rolemodel for the Twins.
  • Maggie: Named after her mother and originally known as Sadie, Maggie is the blonde bombshell of the family and often overshadows her sister when it comes to men which sometimes leads to friction between the two otherwise close sisters. Eventually became a model.
  • Horace: The brainy, nerdy and often snobby son who aspires to learn poetry amidst the chaos of his overcrowded home. Thinks of himself as a rolemodel for the Twins but, in recent years, has began aspiring to be more like Joe.
  • The Twins: One of them was refered to as Eck (short for Alexander) once but other than that it's No Name Given for the pair of them. High-spirited kids who can always be counted on to add to the chaos with a fistfight or a game of Cowboys and Indians.
  • The Bairn: The youngest of the family and doted on by her mother whom she very much takes after. Prone to causing havoc by repeating things she's misheard or doesn't understand. Very, very close to Granpaw.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In the 1970s strips, Maggie met and quickly got engaged to Dave McKay. The wedding was rehearsed, a house was bought and the guest list was ready to go. The entire storyline was suddenly dropped at the end of 1979 and Dave was never seen or mentioned again. DC Thomson even went as far as to completely remove all mentions of their engagement from the compilation books. The 2012 release "Classic Books from the 70s" finally acknowledged this and Dave's fate was revealed in a brand new strip. Dave secretly wore a wig and was moonlighting as "Baldy Bob" at Daphne's singles club.
  • Always Identical Twins: With the exception of some strips in the 1990s, where each wore his baseball cap the opposite way from the other.
  • Apron Matron: Maw can be this.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Hen and everyone else, but most often Joe.
  • Britcom
  • Bumbling Dad: Paw mostly, but Granpaw can be this to Paw.
  • The Cameo: Scottish celebrities have occasionally turned on Glebe Street up over the years.
    • Oor Wullie, the main character of the sister strip, often made appearances in the early years of the strip. Granpaw often appeared in Wullie's strips as well.
  • Cool Old Guy: Granpaw to the younger kids, especially the Bairn.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Paw and Granpaw have a pipe each.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the early strips, the characters tend to swear when surprised (censored of course)! Several strips in the first Broons books also seem to imply that Joe is a Celtic supporter. There are also numerous explicit references to the Broons home being in Glasgow.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": To the point where Paw (Father) will call his own father Granpaw (Grandfather) and is own wife Maw (Mother)
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: All the guys love Maggie.
  • Flashback: To before Maw and Paw where married, when we get to meet Paw's now-deceased mother and his absent siblings.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Whenever Daphne and Maggie have a fight.
  • Good Parents: Maw and Paw.
  • Happily Married: Again, Maw and Paw - they may quarrel a bit, and Maw can be a nag at times, but they clearly love each other very much.
  • Housewife: Maw.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: The regular holidays to the But and ben (a two-room cottage in the Highlands that the family uses for holidays away) often involves a lot of this.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Most notably between Granpaw and the Bairn.
  • In the Blood: Many of the traits that Paw and Granpaw share, beard, hat and pipe included.
  • Long Runner: Since 1936.
  • New Year Has Come: Hogmanay is a fairly regular thing for the Broons, despite the years never moving on.
  • No Name Given: Paw, Granpaw, one of the Twins and the Bairn. Even in a flashback to before Paw had any children, Granpaw's wife is still identified as Granmaw.
    • In at least two 1970s strips, Paw was identified by old school friends who recognise him as "Wee Pud Broon", although whether this is short for Pudley or just a nickname is made unclear.
    • In addition, a 1950s strip showed graffiti on a tree left by a young Granpaw, as "J.Brown".
  • Non-Standard Character Design: In the late '90s, Maggie when she appeared in Oor Wullie in particular. Meant to be the prettiest girl in town, she is drawn in more elaborate clothing with delicate features compared to the more cartoonish inhabitants of town.
  • The Patriarch: Paw.
  • Retcon: Maggie was originally known as Sadie.
  • Shared Universe: With Oor Wullie, an equally famous work by the same creators.
  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Single-Minded Twins: Even in strips where they argue, it's because they both want something only one of them can have, rather than because they actually disagree about anything.
  • Sitcom
  • Truth in Television: Most tenements in major towns really were this overcrowded back in the day.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Twins, Joe and Hen, and Maggie and Daphne.
  • Where The Hell Is Glebe Street?: Originally. The Broons are now confirmed to live in the town of Auchenshoogle (sometimes called Auchentogle), which is a blend of Dundee and Glasgow.
    • Auchenshoogle's actual location seems to vary on the writers and artists. Early Watkins strips explicitly said it was in Glasgow, and both the family and Oor Wullie walked to the Glasgow Empire Exhibition. Later in Watkins' run, the town became more generic. During Tom Lavery's run, a strip showed an address label on a box of prunes clearly saying Dundee. The 1980s returned to a vague location with the exception of a strip where the family went to the Glasgow Garden Festival (again, they walked home). Ken H Harrison's strips seemed to place Auchenshoogle somewhere in the Highlands. Nowadays, they've settled on Glasgow again (made explicitly clear in an Oor Wullie strip where he cycles to Loch Lomond). Despite this, the town shares a lot of traits with Dundee.