||[Oct. 30th, 2008|12:39 pm]
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#64 SCARY GO ROUND – John Allison
“Life’s like a horse wearing a suit and smoking a cigar: hard to explain.”
The main appeal of Scary Go Round is hard to explain because it’s based on the unusual way the comic is written. John Allison’s characters have their own unique personal dialect of chirpy British-isms broken by occasional blasts of brash smack-talk, staid Victorianism and creepy Cockney. (“As he lays dyin’ of course I’ll be stealin’ all his money. It won’t be like he’s usin’ it, I mean. ’Cept maybe for bleedin’ on and gurglin’ at.”) There’s a distinct rhythm to it as well as its own slang; his characters eat sammiches lest they starve and turn into skellingtons and figure a vampire man’s just a kind of leathery monkey.
This dialect is common to everyone in the quaint little town of Tackleford, which appears to be a popular holiday spot for the supernatural set as well as the just plain inexplicable set. Robot ambassadors from Robotania sometimes visit, as do devilish jellyfish and Grim Reapers. It’s a bit like Sunnydale from Buffy The Vampire Slayer only with less vampires and grr arrg and more goblins and silly.
The town’s less other-worldly characters are the stars, like the perpetually meddlesome and giddy Shelley Winters, professional winsome redhead, and a rotating cast of supporters who change positions whenever John Allison gets sick of drawing them, which is often. Tackleford’s version of Scooby Doo and friends, they are always on the lookout for trouble when they are not actually the cause of the trouble itself. Their problems are usually solved through applications of extreme nonsense, a kind of whimsical brute force.
That word, ‘whimsical’, is the most appropriate kind of word for Scary Go Round’s atmosphere, a blend of the mildly spooky and the very cute with no added common sense. Allison’s artwork is also an important part of that atmosphere, changing over the years but always rounded and quirky. Diagrams and explanatory pictures floating around the characters illustrate the complicated concepts they grapple clumsily with like the possibility that throwing a paper plane in a moment of youthful vigour could have caused a butterfly effect and been responsible for the death of the king or the triangle of fear, which measures drunkenness against likeliness to run away. Anything is possible in Scary Go Round and everything is pretty damn funny.