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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Scary Go Round

Scary Go Round
written and drawn by John Allison

What’s It About?
Tackleford, Yorkshire. Not the most normal town in the world: there’s goblins, a Satanic nunnery, a very creepy child is telling people “Things are going to change” and at one point a time machine is installed in a teapot.

Scary Go Round follows the adventures of a large cast in Yorkshire’s most surreal and unpredictable town. Originally updated five days a week from 2002 to 2009, the entire archive is still available online.

What’s Good About It?
For a start, I’ve never been able to classify this series with a genre label because it varies so wildly. Take the series’ main character Shelley Winters: she’s fought an election, spent several chapters as a zombie, been kidnapped by super villains and fought the eternal evil that is Jeremy Kyle*. SGR swings wildly between supernatural, science-fiction and slice of life storylines.

Whilst I call Shelley “the main character”, that’s not entirely accurate, stories are equally as likely to focus on her best friend Amy, aspiring inventor Tim Jones, teenage detectives Dark Esther and The Boy.

Most of the series’ humour comes from the distinctive dialogue style Allison uses, a good example of which can be seen here in Ecuadorian sandwich-shop owner Hugo agreeing house rules with best friend and professional scruff Ryan or Dark Esther giving The Boy a pep talk.

What’s the Art Like?
As ever, internet etiquette prevents us posting art examples to this site but follow the links in this section to view them instead.

Allison began drawing Scary Go Round using a computer-tablet set up, a basic explanation of which was included as an interlude in one chapter. This allowed him to keep a five-days-a-week schedule because he could re-use models. This actually resulted in a unique and distinctive art style, as well as allowing longer and more complex stories than most web comics can manage.

Over time, Allison became more confident in his ability to draw with pen and ink, inserting occasional traditionally drawn pages until finally switching to traditional drawing full-time in 2006. The result was less exacting and more organic, opening out more subtleties in his expression work and for sight gags. As an example: Dark Esther and Erin Winters looking at pigs.

What’s Bad About It?Like most webcomics, the author took some time to find his feet. The first few chapters are fun enough but focus on characters who quickly disappear in favour of Shelley, Tim, Amy, Ryan and the gang.

The cast grows and changes quite often, characters coming and going, moving to Wales and the like. This is actually to the benefit of the strip as it keeps things fresh and (most importantly) stops the author from getting bored with his creations. Be warned, however, that Welsh oblivion might at any time consume your personal favourite (I’m not bitter…).

Other Information
All fifty-one chapters of the Scary Go Round webcomic are available for free at Scary Go Round website by clicking on the link “SGR Archive”. The series was collected in print (with a few exceptions) and most of the books are still available from the site’s store.

A short print-only collection Heavy Metal, Hearts + Flowers was published. Now out of print, its worth a look if you can get it cheap but it was essentially an update of the story Better Living Through Blue-Haired Robot Girl that ran in Allison’s original webcomic Bobbins [link].

Whilst Scary Go Round itself has ended, some of the characters continue in Allison’s new project Bad Machinery, also available from the Scary Go Round URL.

* International translation note: Jeremy Kyle is British talk show host. He shouts a lot at psychologically damaged people who are shouting at each other.


  1. Thanks - had never heard of this before, but intruiged enough to check it out. Like it. (link to the webite doesn't work btw).

    cheers G

  2. Glad you liked it, SGR's a personal favourite.

    Link fixed.