Broodhollow is partly — maybe mostly — an exploration of some long-held fears and rituals I’ve accumulated. When Zane can’t look into a doorway cracked an inch wide for fear of seeing a face, that’s not invented. That is my fear. When Zane is terrified of forgetting what he’s already done, that’s me too. When he has dreams in which he’s compelled against sense to find the thing that will frighten him awake, that’s also been me.
I’m not the kind of cartoonist who believes an audience should accept late or missing updates because webcomics are free to read. I may not technically owe anybody x number of strips per week. But what I think I do owe you is professionalism — and I always associated consistency with that quality.
I think the demands of the past year are finally catching up with me. I’m blocked creatively. It hasn’t done me a lot of good to try and think my way out of it. I’ve had little bouts of writer’s block in the past, for sure — it happens to everyone, and you work through it until you’re on the other side. But combined with parenthood, other unnamed life events, and getting the final stages of the Book 2 Kickstarter ready to ship (books arriving in August!), this is the longest-lasting block I’ve ever experienced.
I want to do A Game of Oubliette correctly because it’s a really important story for the Broodhollow universe, and I’m nervous that continuing to grind it out like this is going to affect the book’s quality — but! A total hiatus is not the solution.
What I’d like to do is pause Book 3 for a while and explore other stories in and around Broodhollow. It would do me good to get some perspective on the Town of A Thousand Holidays, and as anxious as you are to find out where Zane and company are headed this time, I also think you’d appreciate seeing more of this haunted world.
What do you think?
I’m curious… what’s the first nightmare you remember having? How old were you? Does it still frighten you a little, or can you view it abstractly after all these years?
I’ll go first. The first dream of any kind I remember, I wouldn’t call a nightmare exactly — I must have been three or four years old. My mother was rocking me in this red velvet rocking chair, and I was drifting off to sleep. From the chair, I could see out the back door. I clearly saw two men in overalls, moving a tree across our yard like a piece of scenery. The tree had glowing fruit in its branches. While it wasn’t a nightmare, it rattled me like I had witnessed some behind-the-curtains event of reality; a prop being moved from one set to another.
Other nightmares I remember are just fragments. But I had many dreams about deep water from a young age. I was afraid of the deep end of the pool as a kid, and I remember having a dream where I saw the depth tiles at the waterline — the tiles that have numbers on them to tell you how many feet — and it was like a nine-digit number.
What about you?
While I remember it, I wanted to share with you this short nightmare I had. It wasn’t my intention to stop the Dream Diary here at Broodhollow, but to be honest, I had stopped having nightmares! It was strange. I’ve had very mundane dreams, when I can remember them at all; nothing worth posting.
Anyway, I had this one a few nights ago, and when I woke up, I was a little afraid, but mostly thought “yes, I’m back in business!” Here we go:
My father, my brother and I were in a supermarket — although I felt less like we had been shopping there, and more like we had been summoned to help. Demons or invisible spirits infested the building. They couldn’t be seen — only sensed in the æther.
Someone working there knew a technique to determine the aspect of a given demon: you could use scraps of paper as a kind of medium, like iron filings can uncover the shape of a magnetic field. When scattered in a specific way, the scraps would form a simple scale effigy of the nearby demon.