Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On Bats and Bones and Many Things

John Allison (Eccentric Englishman)
I had meant to comment yesterday on the appearance of a familiar face in Scary Go Round, but... well, let's just say that dodging falling meteorites would have been a less harrowing ordeal than some of the chaos that ambushed me.

But aside from assuring us that the inimitable Rich Tweedy hadn't simply just ceased to exist, we only had a moment's glimpse at the blast from the past - and today we're dealing with far more urgent affairs.

Still, as interesting as the current storyline is (the return of the inimitable Ryan Beckwith! Troubled times for Tim and Riley! Friend Bat is dead; long live Comrade Bat!), that glance back at the days of Bobbins did bring out a certain nostalgia.

Scary Go Round is one of several comics that I still think of as new, solely because I was around when they began. Of course, by now, it's actually been around for four years, and almost as large as it's predecessor. It is also sometimes hard to keep track of time in Mr. John Allison's works due to the very structure of them, and the fact that he bounces from one set of characters to the next with abandon.

Scary Go Round represents a number of curious contradictions in my eyes. Allison doesn't really like jokes, persay - but that doesn't mean it isn't funny. Humorous dialogue and scenes are as fundamental to the strip as anything else, and Allison shows that his comic can make you laugh at every panel without worrying about setting up punchlines.

Similarly, the plot tends to lack a central focus, and instead have any number of ongoing threads that it jumps to and from at any given time. When the strip started, the focus was a bit tighter than it had been with Bobbins. But over time it's return to a similar style, and while a more polished work in general, it still seems to move from scene to scene at it's creator's whimsy.

Which isn't a bad thing, mind you. Whimsy is what makes Scary Go Round... er, go round. Allison has never feared change in his comic. He often experiments with new art styles, ditches some characters and focuses on others, and occasionally even kills characters off... even if they equally occasionally come back. And despite the fact he doesn't simply stick to a single tried and true formula, he's one of the fortunate few making a living from his comic.
That certainly says a lot to me.
Addendum: Check out Saturday's post, now that I've gotten around to realizing I only posted half of it.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Yeah, sometimes it is too much - too intense and fey and other times he hits the spot. It's a multi-layered work that uses archetypes and fun together to form o pop-culture jelly. The closest thing to it would have to be Stuff Sucks, really.
The addition of a Bobbins character is just pure playfulness - Allison likes to remind readers of the past, SGR was never created in a vacuum - it was the re-up - a reinvention of the trainee strip, Bobbins, into something far more lyrical and psychedelic. The humour is evident in the situations and the characters - he doesn't really use gags.