Cobweb and Stripes was a Fan Webcomic on DeviantArt and Tumblr. This is what happens when a talented Polish artist decides to show how the elements of Beetlejuice and the drastically different animated series could be fused together into a cohesive whole.
Along with her father and stepmother, Lydia Deetz moved from New York City to a large house in New England. It turned out the house used to belong to the Maitlands, a young married couple who died in an unfortunate accident. The Maitlands' ghosts didn't want to share their house with new occupants, and decided to summon a bio-exorcist - Betelgeuse. But as his methods turned out to be more harmful than anticipated, the Maitlands chose to deal with the Deetzes by themselves. Moreover, they were growing fond of the teenage Lydia. Then, when a friend of Lydia's stepmother somewhat unintentionally started performing an exorcism on the Maitlands, Lydia summoned the mad ghost to save them. To pay the price of this aid, Lydia agreed to marry Betelgeuse. However, in the nick of time, the ceremony was cancelled; Betelgeuse was chased away, and the Maitlands and Deetzes agreed to coexist in harmony. Everything ended well.
It's been two years since that strange, strange night, and only the Maitlands and Lydia remember everything that happened. One day, the Maitlands have news - they have gotten far enough in the Neitherworld paper trail that they can start the process of moving on to whatever awaits. Just after they break this to Lydia, a familiar bio-exorcist appears in her bedroom with some news of his own; having been arrested for an unrelated crime, he's invoking an ancient, rarely-used magical law, and Lydia is given the task of being Betelgeuse's "anchor" in the real world until his case goes to trial.
The comic follows their growing relationship from that point forward, as it takes turns neither of them expected.
Regrettably, in May 2020, after a hiatus of roughly a year, the artist announced that she will not be returning to the comic, owing to burnout from finishing her master's degree and other obligations being more pressing. Both the deviantArt and Tumblr accounts have since been deactivated, although the comic pages can still be found on Pinterest.
Tropes that appear in Cobweb and Stripes include:
- Adaptational Species Change: Ginger goes from a spider to a human ghost with spider's legs grafted on.
- Affectionate Nickname: Defied. Unlike in the cartoon, where "BJ" is Lydia's pet name for her ghostly pal, she calls him that here because he doesn't want her using his name except in the incantation.
- Played straight by Betelgeuse himself, though, who calls her "Lyds" and "Babe," almost never using her real name. He also sometimes calls Jacques "Bones."
- Alpha Bitch: Claire Brewster, as in the cartoon, still enjoys making Lydia miserable while they're in high school, calling her 'ugly' and 'a witch.' She gets very little screen time, however, and Betelgeuse quickly sends her packing with bugs in her hair.
- Anywhere but Their Lips: Lydia thanks Betelgeuse for her birthday adventure with a kiss on the cheek. He's visibly stunned.
- Art Evolution: The character designs, particularly on the two leads, dramatically improved over the course of the comics.
- Bag of Holding/Bigger on the Inside: Lydia only takes one suitcase to college. Once she arrives at her room, it's revealed that Betelgeuse used his Reality Warper powers to make it this, so everything she needs fits inside.
- Banister Slide: Betelgeuse performs a rather epic one when bringing Lydia to the Neitherworld for the first time. (She elects to walk down instead.)
- Befriending the Enemy: What Lydia ends up doing.
- Bigger on the Inside: Lydia notes that BJ's house is this.
- Birds of a Feather: Both Lydia and Prudence were supposed to have single dorms, but ended up being assigned as roommates instead. Fortunately, they both love The Cure, which makes them think it's going to be okay.
- Betelgeuse's teasing remark to Lydia privately is that the idiosyncratic Prudence is clearly nuts, so they're perfect for each other.
- Birthday Episode: Chapter 14, which takes place on Lydia's 19th birthday.
- Bookworm: Prudence is so intent on finishing her book that she neglects to even acknowledge Lydia when she first enters their dorm room. Lydia notes that she often does the same thing, suggesting that she's one too.
- Boxed Crook: Betelgeuse, until exonerated at his trial. Any time in the first several chapters that he's not actively spending time with Lydia, he's stuck in what looks like an oversized bird cage.
- Boy Meets Ghoul: Lydia and Betelgeuse
- Brick Joke: When they visit the haunted house in chapter 14, Betelgeuse bets Lydia a dollar that she screams like a little girl; she bets him the same. They both end up doing so. At the very end of the chapter, he sends her a note with a dollar inside, reminding her that she owes him a dollar too.
- Bridal Carry: Betelgeuse carries Lydia to her bedroom like this when she falls asleep watching The Exorcist with him.
- Camera Fiend: As in the film, Lydia is a shutterbug.
- Central Theme: Love Redeems, and no one is beyond redemption (even if they think they are).
- Character Development: A big part of the reason why the comic is so admired by its readers; both Lydia and Betelgeuse undergo considerable improvement over the course of the story, largely as a result of knowing each other.
- Circus Episode: Chapter 18 sort of works out to be this, since Ginger is telling Lydia about how she and Jacques met and fell in love in life - they were both circus performers.
- Claimed by the Supernatural: In order to visit the Neitherworld, Lydia must first ingest some of Betelgeuse's "essence." It seems relatively innocuous at the time, but when she meets Doc later, he implies that there could be long-term consequences of some sort.
- Coitus Interruptus: Implied (and confirmed by the artist) to be the case when Lydia issues an Inconvenient Summons in chapter 17.
- Compensating for Something: This is Betelgeuse's theory about why the Doc's tower is so big.
- Cry into Chest: Lydia does this to Betelgeuse at one point. The fact that he's genuinely concerned is a sign of his Character Development.
- The Dead Can Dance: In chapter 20, Lydia discovers that BJ is a fan of several different kinds of dancing, including jazz and swing, and he concedes that maybe he can teach her sometime.
- Death by Adaptation: Bertha, who's now a ghost.
- Dem Bones: Jacques, as in the cartoon.
- Died Wrong: Betelgeuse explains to Lydia that he looks more "stale," as he puts it, than the Maitlands because they accepted their situation faster than he did; to avoid looking like him after death, he says, she needs to abandon her body as soon as she's sure medical science can't revive her.
- Dirty Old Man: Betelgeuse has his moments. When he directs his comments at Lydia, however, they come across as clumsy flirting rather than outright harassment; as the story progresses, he starts evolving into more of a Chivalrous Pervert.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Used only once. Lydia unwittingly refers to Betelgeuse as "Juicey" during his trial, since she can't say his name. He's clearly disgruntled by everyone laughing, and she afterward calls him "the accused."
- The Evil Prince: Prince Vince, while a benign and friendly character in the cartoon, is portrayed here as an antagonist. He's out to make Betelgeuse's afterlife a nightmare, and it has yet to be revealed exactly why. (It's also not clear why he calls himself a prince, other than that he's declared himself in charge of part of the Neitherworld and has the connections to pull it off.)
- Foreshadowing: Many things mentioned in the earlier chapters, particularly things said by Betelgeuse, are likely to assume greater importance as the story progresses.
- For Want of a Nail: if Betelgeuse had been more attentive to his job while working with Juno, Bertha wouldn't have been stuck wandering the college clueless all those years.
- Friendless Background: Lydia, when she was growing up. It's part of why she latched onto the Maitlands (that and her oblivious parents), and in their absence is growing attached to Betelgeuse - who isn't winning any popularity contests himself.
- Ghost Amnesia: Betelgeuse has no memory of who he was before he died, and admits to Lydia at one point that he would like to know.
- Goth Girls Know Magic: Apparently, some of Lydia's college classmates are of this opinion in chapter 17, when a group of guys catcall at her with remarks like "It's not Halloween yet!" Of course, they have no idea just who else is listening...
- Gratuitous French: Jacques, as in the cartoon, peppers his speech with French words and phrases. When his wife Ginger appears later, she also speaks a little French. Justified in that he, at least, was French in life; it's not clear whether Ginger was also French or if she just picked it up from him.
- Gratuitous Latin: Chapter 20 reveals that Lydia is actually fluent in Latin, which is a problem for Betelgeuse, who likes to mutter to himself in that language since he figures other people don't understand it.
- Happily Married: Jacques the skeleton and Ginger the spider. Them being married is implied in chapter 14, during Lydia's birthday celebration; she actually meets Ginger in chapter 18, where it's revealed that they were also married while they were alive.
- Handsome Lech: Played with. Betelgeuse plays cards with some guys who comment on the number of women he gets; one of them points out that he's a shapeshifter. "What do you think he uses that for?"
- Among fans of the comic, however, his appearance is considered rather attractive - at least compared to the film or the cartoon.
- Hidden Depths: Lydia discovers BJ was into dancing and big band music at some point. When confronted with this, he shrugs it off as being just something he used to do. When she asks if he could teach her sometime, he doesn't outright say yes or no.
- Holding Hands: Lydia's response to Doc's "examination" in chapter 16 is to grab Betelgeuse's hand for comfort. He's a little surprised, but doesn't pull away.
- Iconic Outfit: Betelgeuse's striped suit is usually present, as it was in the cartoon, but the comic gives an Origin Story to Lydia's spiderweb poncho.note
- In Medias Res: In chapter 18, Ginger explains to Lydia how she and Jacques died and met Betelgeuse. The whole thing is told in sepia-toned flashback.
- Interspecies Romance: Setting aside the UST between the leads, Jacques the skeleton is married to Ginger the spider. However, they're both ghosts, so this isn't as weird as most examples of the trope.
- Invisible to Mortals: During her first visit to the Neitherworld, Betelgeuse points out a statue that sometimes mesmerizes the dead by showing them scenes from their life. Lydia doesn't see anything unusual, because she's not dead. Betelgeuse claims that he also sees nothing, probably because of his Ghost Amnesia.
- It Was a Gift: The cobweb poncho is Lydia's birthday gift from Betelgeuse. When it tears on a park bench later in the comic, he tells her she should just throw it away, and she refuses for exactly this reason. "I got it from you."
- It's All About Me: Delia, on those few occasions when she appears in the comic, is not interested in anything that doesn't revolve around herself. Naturally, this includes her stepdaughter.
- Jury and Witness Tampering: During the course of Betelgeuse's trial, it's revealed that Prince Vince bribed, threatened, or browbeat several (possibly all) of his witnesses into testifying against the B-guy.
- Kid with the Leash: Literally. For the first part of the comic, Betelgeuse is firmly tethered to Lydia and can't go very far from her. Once the leash is removed, he's gone... then comes back by his own choice. From that point forward, the leash is an emotional one, though he won't admit it.
- Law of Conservation of Normality: Lydia may be the Protectorate of a strangely overpowered ghost with an unpredictable personality, and she may take regular trips to the world of the dead - but she's still a girl in her late teens who has to get through college classes and keep in touch with her parents.
- Lonely Together: What's really behind the forging of their relationship. She's very lonely; he's unexpectedly sympathetic to this and is trying to ease her loneliness. But it's forcing him to acknowledge that he's been lonely too.
- Longing Look: Increasingly as the story continues, Lydia is on the receiving end of these when her back is turned.
- Luminescent Blush: Lydia gets this in a few scenes, courtesy of Betelgeuse; it's particularly noticeable when it happens because she's so pale.
- Mad Scientist: Doc, first introduced in chapter 16, is implied to possibly be one of these, although Betelgeuse notes that he also does a lot of medical research.
- Mage Tower: Doc's home, which may also qualify as an Evil Tower of Ominousness. At the very least, Lydia asks Betelgeuse to please never take her there again after her initial visit.
- Manipulative Bastard: Betelgeuse paints himself as one of these in chapter 18 while talking to Jacques about Lydia. He insists that he's taking advantage of Lydia's fondness for him, by getting her to pull him into the living world whenever he wants and thus getting him around the curse which otherwise keeps him Neitherworld-bound. Jacques seems to think this is a recipe for disaster.
- Monster Clown: Scuzzo, as in the show.
- Morality Chain/Morality Pet: Lydia is growing into one or the other (as well as a Love Interest) for Betelgeuse. He's not anywhere near ready to admit it, though.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The Maitlands' reaction when they arrive in Lydia's room in chapter 15, and realize for the first time that they've been missing from her life for almost an entire year.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Lydia, as usual. When seeing the Neitherworld for the first time, she's completely enraptured.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Betelgeuse isn't big on physical affection, so when he embraces Lydia on their first meeting after several months, she immediately wonders if he's drunk. (He is tipsy.) As the comic progresses, he becomes noticeably more willing to receive or even initiate physical contact.
- No Periods, Period: Slightly averted. When Lydia has the Cry into Chest moment noted above, Betelgeuse wonders to himself whether she has PMS. He doesn't seem to mind if that's the case, really; he's too busy being uneasy about the whole 'emotions' thing.
- The Noun and the Noun: The title refers to the main characters' Iconic Outfits - Cobweb for Lydia's poncho, Stripes for Betelgeuse's suit.
- Numerological Motif: The artist confirms that it's not a coincidence that Lydia's dorm room number ends in 13.
- Oblivious to Love: Both played straight and played with in the mid-teen chapters. Lydia plays the trope straight, as she is aware of her own growing feelings for Betelgeuse but not of his for her. Betelgeuse, on the other hand, not only gradually becomes aware of both sets of emotions, but actively tries to ignore them in the hopes that they'll go away. He's got his reasons, although they have yet to be revealed in-story.
- One-Person Birthday Party: Lydia would have had this for her 19th birthday without Betelgeuse's intervention.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: "Doc" has no other name, at least thus far.
- Original Character: Chapter 16 sees BJ and Lydia paying a visit to Doc, the first named character to appear who was in neither the film nor the cartoon.
- Orphaned Series: As noted at the top of the page, the series was discontinued in May 2020.
- Ouija Board: After embarrassing herself with an Inconvenient Summons, Lydia visits an occult shop in chapter 17 to purchase one of these, to improve communications with BJ when he's not present.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The afterlife isn't quite what Lydia expected, much like in the film.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Possibly. Betelgeuse calls Jacques "my favorite skeleton," but thus far he's the only skeleton who's been shown in the comic.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Jacques the skeleton and Ginger the spider, from the cartoon, are a married couple here.
- Parental Abandonment: Lydia suffers from this a lot. Her mother died when she was young; her father is loving but relatively inattentive; her stepmother is hopelessly self-absorbed. She had two years of happiness with Parental Substitutes Adam and Barbara, but once they move on at the beginning of the comic, she rarely hears from them.
- Parental Obliviousness: Charles and Delia, as in the film. Delia is the worse of the two, as during her rare appearances she barely even registers Lydia's presence; she seems to have actually gotten worse since the movie. Charles is a Bumbling Dad, but he does love his daughter.
- Patchwork Fic: The comic takes elements of the cartoon and incorporates them into the film universe.
- Pet the Dog: His kindnesses to Lydia aside, Betelgeuse is actually sweet to one other individual - Jacques's wife Ginger. When she's first introduced, he greets her as "my favorite wife of my favorite skeleton." Admittedly, he's about to ask her for a small favor; but the affection doesn't seem forced and she doesn't appear even slightly surprised by it, suggesting that it's normal behavior for him. What she tells Lydia throughout the remainder of the chapter more or less confirms it.
- Protectorate: Lydia quickly becomes this for Betelgeuse; like in the cartoon, he doesn't put up with anything threatening her. It's evident in early chapters, but starts becoming particularly apparent on her first visit to the afterlife. By the time he brings her to meet Doc, who really scares her, the trope is in full force.
- Psychic Powers: Doc concludes, at the end of his introduction to Lydia, that she has some latent psychic ability which is probably keeping her from having too many difficulties when visiting the world of the dead. It's also, he theorizes, the reason she's not suffering any serious after-effects from the potion Betelgeuse gave her on her birthday.
- Chapter 18 finds Lydia studying a deck of tarot cards and testing her psychic powers in the same manner which Doc had done. She's visibly unnerved by how accurate she is, a sign that the ability isn't so latent anymore.
- Psycho Sidekick: Unusually for the trope, Betelgeuse volunteers to be this for Lydia in chapter 12. He offers to basically deal with anyone at her request, so that "your sweet little hands will stay clean" but she still has her revenge as needed. She's not enthused, although she sort of appreciates the offer.
- Put on a Bus: The Maitlands almost never contact Lydia once they leave the Deetz house. It upsets her greatly, and BJ doesn't like when things upset her, so he tries to cheer her by pointing out that she has him instead.
- The Bus Came Back: They show up after she's left for college, surprised not to find her in her room. When they finally track her down, BJ hits them hard with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, because he's angry that they hurt her so badly.
- Race Lift: Of the Diversifying a Cast persuasion. The comic version of characters from the cartoon are sometimes of a different ethnicity than they were originally drawn; for example, Prudence has been changed from a tiny white girl to a dark-skinned redhead.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Lydia, as ever. Betelgeuse makes it obvious that he finds it appealing, both in words and with those Longing Looks he keeps sending her way.
- Reality Warper: As in both forms of canon, Betelgeuse is on the lower end of this.
- Really Gets Around: Betelgeuse does, although just how much isn't clear because the comic tends to show Lydia's point of view more often.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The judge who presides over Betelgeuse's trial. He's very polite to Lydia throughout the whole thing, is willing to accept that most of the evidence against the accused was manufactured, pardons him, and orders Vince arrested for said tampering.
- Redemption Quest: What Betelgeuse is ostensibly on, at least at first.
- Retirony: Part of Jacques and Ginger's backstory from when they were alive. They were a few weeks away from leaving the circus where they worked, in order to retire to a private life and start a family, when they were killed.
- Roommate Com: The college portion of the story is shaping up to potentially be this. Although Lydia requested a single dorm and was apparently promised one, she nevertheless is assigned to room with the comic's version of Prudence, one of Lydia's friends from the cartoon.
- Shapeshifting: As noted above, Betelgeuse is particularly adept at this. He can even change his gender at will, and tells Lydia that he once spent several years as a femme fatale named Bernadette - simply because after the first few centuries in the Neitherworld, he started to get bored.
- Slasher Smile: Betelgeuse and Lydia both do this from time to time. It's fairly normal for BJ, but it's bizarre on Lydia's young face; she usually does it when she's managed to convince Betelgeuse to tell her something he didn't want to reveal.
- Smoking Is Cool/Smoking Is Not Cool: Betelgeuse is seen smoking, and Lydia even photographs him doing so. However, she also complains about him smelling like cigarettes, so it's an odd case of both tropes being in play at the same time.
- Spider People: Ginger in the cartoon was a spider, full stop. In the comic, she's presented with the head and torso of a woman but the thorax and legs of a spider. While chatting with Lydia, she explains that Betelgeuse is responsible for her odd appearance.
- Halloween Episode: Chapter 5.
- Storyboard Body: Chapter 17 reveals that BJ has a lot of very strange markings on his body. It's not yet been made clear exactly what they are, but given Lydia's instant curiosity about them, it's pretty much a given that they're going to be important somewhere.
- Suddenly Significant Rule: The comic begins when Betelgeuse invokes a really old and hardly-used magical law in order to change his sentence from imprisonment to having Lydia serve as an "anchor" while supposedly rehabilitating him.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Lydia accidentally summons Betelgeuse at one point by saying his name in her sleep. Results in a Pet the Dog moment for him, as he realizes she actually misses him and decides he needs to be in her life.
- Tarot Motifs: Chapter 17 ends with Betelgeuse helping Lydia pick up a pile of tarot cards she accidentally spills on the floor of the occult shop. All of the cards are face-down except for two, with the final strip revealing these two (naturally very significant) cards. For those not familiar enough with tarot to recognize the illustrations, these are - unsurprisingly - Death and The Lovers.
- Teleportation: Another of Betelgeuse's most frequently-used powers. He doesn't even necessarily need to know where he's going in order to teleport there; for example, rather than walk around searching for Lydia's dorm when she arrives at college, he simply grabs her hand and brings them to the right building.
- Thanks for the Mammary: As part of his introductory scene with Lydia, Doc reaches out and grabs her chest. His motives are unclear, and Betelgeuse is not pleased.
- Time Skip: Set two years after the events of the movie. There are also a number of shorter time skips within the story itself, such as the gap of five months during which Betelgeuse vanishes after his trial.
- Tranquil Fury: When he takes Lydia to the Neitherworld carnival, Betelgeuse gets set upon by a pair of Prince Vince's goons. He tells her to run for it, but otherwise isn't too concerned for himself; on some level he seems almost amused. Then one of them starts chasing her... and Betelgeuse stands up straight and goes stone cold calm.Betelgeuse: Don't you fucking dare.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Possibly. There's no stated reason why Charles and Delia have no memories of the night Lydia almost married Betelgeuse to save the Maitlands, but given how nightmarish some of the events were, it could be this trope.
- Unmoving Plaid: The stripes of Betelgeuse's costume are almost always perfectly vertical, or at least always straight, whatever the pose he's in. This gives him a somewhat otherworldly look, which — considering the character — is of course entirely voluntary.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Beginning near the conclusion of chapter 14, this is becoming palpable between the two leads.
- Unsound Effect: Seen occasionally, such as "BEEEED" near the end of chapter 14.
- Unwitting Test Subject: When Lydia finally meets Doc for the first time, he skips right past any sort of pleasantries and immediately starts grilling her about the image on the card he's holding, attempting to determine whether she has any sort of psychic ability. As the next page of the comic shows, she does pretty well.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: It doesn't seem, the way they interact in their earliest scenes together, like Betelgeuse and Jacques particularly like one another. But like in the cartoon, Jacques and his wife Ginger are Betelgeuse's only real friends in the Neitherworld and he's actually rather (quietly) fond of them, and they of him. Their later interactions show the "best buds" aspect much more clearly, and Ginger confirms in dialogue with Lydia that they, and she, are his only friends.
- Webcomic Time: Each individual chapter usually takes place over the course of a single day, or occasionally two. However, there are time skips between the chapters, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
- Weirdness Censor: Prudence, Lydia's college roommate, gets so absorbed in her reading that she is completely oblivious to everything - including not just Lydia's presence, but Betelgeuse magically unpacking Lydia's things for her. She remains oblivious to his presence for some time until circumstances finally force Lydia to introduce the two.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Betelgeuse unleashes this on Adam and Barbara near the end of chapter 19, when they finally track Lydia down at college after having forgotten to check in with her for over a year. He puts in an appearance when he realizes she's in tears, and he verbally shreds the pair for basically abandoning her; the rant endures for several panels. The fact that he's so enraged by the whole thing is another indicator of just how much he's growing to care about her.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: "Wholesome" may be a stretch, but in chapter 5, Betelgeuse adopts the "Betty Juice" persona from the cartoon, in order to help Lydia go out on Halloween instead of being trapped at home for one of Delia's terrible parties.
- You Owe Me: Something BJ says in chapter 18 implies that one aspect of his friendship with Jacques is based on the skeleton owing him some sort of major league favor.
- The end of the chapter reveals that when Jacques and Ginger were alive, they were circus performers, and they were killed in a terrible fire. Jacques lost his skin, while Ginger was left with no lower body and unable to walk. BJ found them on the streets of the Neitherworld and was able to acquire the legs and lower body of a giant spider, and fused Ginger onto these so she could move and they could get themselves a proper residence and find work. In lieu of payment, Jacques is simply in a sort of permanent servitude to BJ, helping him out any time he finds himself in trouble.
- You're Not My Type: Inverted and then subverted. Lydia comments to Betelgeuse at one point that she highly doubts "little anemic weirdos like me" are his type. Subverted by his reaction: "Wanna bet on it?"