The Scary-Go-Round finally stops

scarygobyeJohn W. Allison’s fine and long-running surrealist comic published its last strip on Friday, after an unbroken seven year run. Seven years! It makes me feel old just writing that; I must’ve been reading Allison’s work for a decade now. He’s not done yet, of course, and has a new comic starting in just over a week. This new comic, as yet unnamed, will apparently feature a few familiar Scary-Go-Round characters (alongside, one assumes, Allison’s trademark art and charming dialogue). It could be a fairly simple reboot; place some established characters into a new setting and scenario, introduce new characters and ideas, doing so under a shiny new name. Allison has remarked a number of times that a long-running plot-based comic can ultimately become alienating to new readers, who find it difficult or impossible to catch up on everything that has gone before, even when stories are deliberately written to avoid readers requiring prior knowledge. With this in mind the death of SGR and the birth of something new makes a lot of sense. It’s also something the artist has used before, in bringing to an end the more conventional plots and characters of English office-ish sitcom-ish strip Bobbins. The break allowed Allison greater freedom to explore different possibilities, including experiments in artistic style: over the past eight years Scary-Go-Round has switched between hand-drawn and vector art a number of times.

While I’ll eagerly read anything Allison puts out (and like many a sad-act who emotionally over-invests in fiction, must admit to being a little in love with some of his characters – testament to their depth and vibrancy), there’s a little sorrow involved in seeing Scary-Go-Round put to bed. It’s a comic that I’ve been reading solidly for some time now, longer than almost any other webcomic I follow. I didn’t pick it up at the very beginning, despite having been a fan of Bobbins, as I wasn’t a fan of the vector art used in a demonstration strip (I vaguely recall something about a werewolf, involving new characters Tessa and Rachel). It was a few years before I came back to storylines that had only grown more off the wall – spies and supervillains, cups of tea and volcano hideouts, midget vampires and deranged small-town mayoral candidates, “saucy” Aleister Crowley and robot diplomats – all held together with the peculiarly English glue of star Shelley Winters, her best friends Amy and Ryan, and a revolving cast of characters jettisoned or retained based on how interesting their storylines turned out to be. Allison’s characters have developed rich personalities, and it’s their interactions with the surreal town of Tackleford (or, indeed, eastern Europe, the world of the Undead, the bottom of the sea – wherever their adventures take them) that make the stories a delight to behold.

John Allison will be posting things to his blog this week to fill the gap between SGR and his new project, which is lovely because so far it has included a sort of good-bye and thank-you followed by an FAQ that answers a few questions which many readers will have been curious about.

2 Responses to “The Scary-Go-Round finally stops”
  1. Jem Mumbles says:

    Nice piece, but even after ten years you can’t spell his name? ALLISON ;-)

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Haha, that is hugely embarrassing – but thanks for the correction!