Scary Go Round

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

"You can't be arrested for things that are too weird for there to be laws about!"

John Allison's followup to Bobbins, using most of the same characters and the same setting - only this time around Tackleford isn't just a charmingly eccentric British village, but one overrun with mad scientists, Satan worshippers, robots, elves, minotaurs and devil bears. The locals either fail to notice the madness, or take it all in their stride.

The lead is once again Shelley Winters - no, not the redoubtable Oscar-winning actress but the cute, ever-chipper redheaded sometimes-reporter who has an insatiable drive to investigate odd goings-on, to restore justice and order where she senses it is lacking, and apparently to die gruesome, though temporary, deaths. It also features Amy Chilton, Shelley's merrily self-involved co-adventurer; the misfortune-laden but unflappable Ryan Beckwith; Tim Jones, brilliant inventor and accidental mayor; sassy goth girl Esther De Groot and her naive boyfriend The Boy; Fallon Young, sexy spy of questionable competence; Rachel Dukakis-Monteforte, bitchy college student turned Satan's minion; and Raffles, the Gentleman Thief.

After a little over seven years, the comic finally came to an end on September 11, 2009, with a new series called Bad Machinery (link) following on the 21st; it takes place three years after SGR's ending.

Shelly Winters still crops up on Allison's blog and around the site, where she appears to be an actress whom Allison pays to star in his comics. It's all a little confusing.

You can read it right through this link.


Tropes used in Scary Go Round include:
  • Action Girl: Fallon Young, secret agent for some British government agency, and more interested in "the ass-kicking and running around" than the reasons behind her missions.
  • Affably Evil: The League Of Enemies towards Shelley (who isn't the enemy in question), especially Dr Petrescu. Though a Card-Carrying Villain, he makes new glasses for Shelley and seems heartbroken when she escapes.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Amy's rather weak poetry becomes very popular with the inhabitants of Another Dimension.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Initially, Amy had a secret crush on Tim and Ryan; Ryan had a kind of platonic love for Shelley. The Boy is introduced having a huge crush on Amy. (Well, he's only human.) Erin nurses a crush on The Boy, but loses out to Esther. Ryan admits to "an abiding love" for two girls "that we can never speak of", almost certainly Amy and Shelley.
  • All Just a Dream: A couple of particularly unusual tales run for a few comics before turning out to be dreams or flights of fancy by Shelley.
  • Anticlimax Boss: Satan arrives to claim Ryan's soul for bringing Shelley Back from the Dead! Shelley punches him in the groin and he goes away again.
  • Another Dimension: The weird alien world that Tessa and Rachel go to, to rescue Amy.
  • Arc Words: "Things are going to change."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:

Shelley: Mr Devil, sir, in the last few months I have been strangled to death, buried, re-animated, kidnapped, was made to wear a tight goth-girl corset by my so-called friends and had to eat a lot of salt.

Shelly: But what would you do in a word-based emergency?
Des: Like what?
Shelley: Eviction notice. Death warrant. Valuable coupon that expires today.

  • Art Evolution: A gradual improvement and a shift from Adobe Illustrator to hand-drawn.
  • Ascended Extra: Esther. First appearing as part of the gang that thumped Amy for chatting the band they liked, she went on to be one of the core protagonists.
    • The real exemplar is Esther's friend Sarah Grote, who really just hung about in Ester's orbit until chapter 47, when she suddenly moved up to the front to cause the events of that chapter and go on to date Ryan.
    • Arguably Ryan as well, who went from a pretty minor character in Bobbins to one of the mains in its sequel.
  • As You Know: Rachel sums up the previous chapter to Tessa (who was there with her) for the benefit of readers who just joined.
  • Atlantis: Desmond Fishman suddenly thinks he came from Alantis (He's a Fish Person, it might make sense), drawing Shelley and Amy into an adventure to find it.
  • Back from the Dead: Shelley, more than once. This is partially because of her pleasing existence.
  • Betty and Veronica: Erin Winters (Betty) and Dark Esther (Veronica) for The Boy.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Not in the comic, but now that SGR has ended, Shelley seems to have jumped over it and lives on in sketches and banners on the site, promoting SGR collections, bothering her creator to work harder and appearing in sketch-comics on his blog, where she makes a nuisance of herself while John tries to work on Bad Machinery.
  • Britain Is Only London: Entirely averted, by virtue of the author living elsewhere. Tackleford is in Yorkshire, which is Oop North. Adventures to elsewhere are set in foreign or mythical locations like Romania, Christmas Island, New York or Atlantis. The only story set the capital involves Time Travel to Victorian London.
  • B-Side Comics: Occasional side comic Scareodelia, which also featured the SGR cast, but is now defunct. (The lack of a link of the main page suggests that it's either Old Shame or a secret.)
  • Buffy-Speak: Shelly and Ryan especially, but the cast in general have some very unique ways of phrasing things.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Carrot just can't seem to catch a break.
  • Call Back: "Abductions" has quite a storm of callbacks. The League Of Enemies comprises Archie Stanwyck, who strangled Shelley and was assumed dead while trying to kill Tessa and Rachel way back in chapter two, Dr Petrescu, defeated by Fallon and Tim in chapter six, and Mayoral candidate Bentley Quorn from the previous chapter. Their plan involves unleashing a zombie clone of Shelley, much like Shelley's time as a zombie in chapter 4. Also, Shelley calls on the Portuguese man-o-war who was her enemy in chapter 17, in a sort of unreliable case of the Androcles' Lion.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The League Of Enemies, who describe themselves as evil. Amid their island lair, Gibbous Moon says she's an "evil intern".
  • Casanova Wannabe: Paul Milford thinks very highly of himself despite his lack of results. And subtlety.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: There's always time for bantering Buffy-Speak, even as something terrible bears down on the characters, or as they run away from it.
  • Celebrity Power: One of Shelley's ideas for rescuing Des from his hosts was "Enlist Bjork!" Why Bjork? Who knows?
  • Character Blog: Shelley had a Twitter for a while, (described in mock-outrage by John Allison as "the greatest betrayal of my professional career") but it was later deleted when people started sending her messages, because her creator was unnerved by the idea of replying in-character, as if roleplaying as Shelley.
  • Clark Kenting: A wig and different clothes makes Fallon completely unidentifiable to Ryan. Though to be fair to him, she is a secret agent, so maybe she's trained in disguise, and even if not:

Ryan: I never looked directly at Fallon due to feelings of manly inadequacy, is all. Like she would see my weaknesses and report them to Lady Central.

Well, this what you get for weeks of acting like a jerk-face jerk, Shelley. Kidnapped into space by space aliens.

  • Description Cut: After Shelley escapes another unlikely death, Ryan tells her she's lucky "the universe isn't keeping score". Actually, it is, but the being who manages Earth has a soft spot for Shelley and her "pleasing existence."
    • Rachel is dragging Amy back to the interdimensional portal from an alien world and says of her partner: "If I know Tessa like I think I do, she'll have spotted my ruse and be getting things ready in the forest to take us home." Meanwhile, Tessa is...steaming drunk and chatting up a giant beetle.
  • Devil in Disguise: It is revealed that Ryan's friend Ralph is actually the devil rather than the figure that the comic had presented as such.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Bats do not eat acorns. Mind you, SGR's world is weird enough that might do so do there.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Go to the start of the comic if you're more familiar with the later ones - or Bad Machinery, or the description at the top of the page - and between the early Adobe Illustrator art and completely different character focus, you might wonder if you're reading the same comic.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The biker gang have no problem with doing drive-by shootings on people who crossed them, but they're very upset about being led to shoot the wrong person.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Boy, and his parents The Father and The Mother. In a slight subversion (or just an eventual Retcon), it is revealed that The Boy's real name is Eustace Boyce, and he became known as The Boy because Elodie the French exchange student couldn't pronounce his real name. After that, his parents get names too.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Elodie
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Shelley is resurrected as a zombie after dying. At first, she's silent and seems hollow, but her personality returns over time, until she fights the inevitable zombie urges to eat brains.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: And even worse than that with Devil Bears, a recurring menace in the SGR-world even in Britain, which in reality has long since exterminated anything more unwelcome than horses.
  • Face Heel Turn: Several characters, most unexpectedly Ernest. Most obviously, Rachel, which is particularly remarkable because she starts the comic as the central protagonist.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: All Russians as we know are writers of blistering brilliance and anarchist prince revolutionaries [1]
  • Fetch Quest: In the "waiting room" between life and heaven, Leppo says he will tell Shelley the way back to Earth if she gets his false teeth back.
  • Fictional Document: Occasionally, there's a newspaper article written by (or featuring) Shelley, one of Esther and Sarah's (and later Shauna and Lottie's) zines, and others such as the tabloid magazine story where Ella Wickle claimed that Des was her son.
  • Finagle's Law: Governs much of the stories.
  • Fish People: Desmond Fish-Man.
  • Fully-Absorbed Finale: Inversion! The final chapter serves basically as Fully Absorbed Pilot for Bad Machinery. See also Poorly-Disguised Pilot.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Hulked-out Erin and Big Lindsay go to settle their differences:

Milford: Normally, I'd suggest we go and watch. But I wouldn't want either of us to spontaneously combust.

  • Good Bad Girl: Shelley, occasionally.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck: This evolves over the series: the characters curse when provoked, but usually in creative and non-profane ways, sometimes using the word "tupping" in place of f-bombs. (It's an archaic word that means the same thing.) There's the occasional light swearing ("She's alive! She's alive and talking bollocks!") but any serious swearing is covered by censor bars until late on. Even then, the print versions still cover it up, and it's mostly exclusive to Amy.
  • Goth: Esther (mostly a Perky Goth). Tim and Ryan dress zombie-Shelley in goth clothing so her undead pallor doesn't attract attention.
  • Graduate From the Story: In the last chapter, the school-going characters (Esther, The Boy, Sarah, et al) finish school and leave for university, or start work. Shelley also leaves Tackleford for a job in London.
  • Gratuitous French: Mimi, and Elodie when she was the same age, is/was obsessed with The Smurfs. We see them both talking about Smurfs in French, but using the English name for the little blue guys, rather than the original (Belgian) French Schtroumpfs.
  • Green Eyed Red Head: Shelley Winters, of course.
  • The Grim Reaper: Natalie Durand takes the gig after she dies.
  • Hand Wave: Shelley goes to America, gets a job at The New Yorker magazine with her US counterpart Shelby Winner, and is gone for a few months. So why is she back in Tackleford?

Shelley: There were a series of unfortunate events. I have decided to think local and stop acting global at all costs.

    • And that is all the explanation we ever get. Shelley makes few of these over time, brushing off questions about why she doesn't call on Tim or Fallon in "Super Crisis Quests" and glossing over how she travelled back to Britain from Portugal without any identification.
  • Heel Face Turn: Gibbous Moon for a while.
  • Here We Go Again: Shelley teaches Des to read, encouraging him with means both fair and devious, then discovers a similar shortfall:

Ryan: I...can't make out the numbers too good.
Shelley: [serious face] I see.

Erin: Don't stare at me Oggy! Everyone's staring at me!
Oggy: Um, I'm no expert, Erin. But you look kind of like a honey trap alien queen sent to enslave the male race and put eggs in us...and most of us would be willing to let the eggs thing slide.

Shelley: I'm training a crow to dance and we've, like, got no chance at the regional championships if I don't finish making his tiny tap shoes.

  • Informed Flaw: Fallon and others say that she's terrible at her spy work, but for the times she mentions it - "The Russian itinerants...I told them in no uncertain terms that a nuclear warhead is not a toy"; "Ex-CIA man? Hooks for hands? I'll be there in half an hour" - she clearly came back with both herself and the world alive and unharmed. Her mission to Romania with Tim argues otherwise, as her plan seems to be "go dancing and drinking and play Scrabble", but she's still alive and being sent on missions.
  • Intrepid Reporter: On and off, both Rachel (initially), who had to revive the student newspaper to avoid being kicked out of college, and later Shelley at the Tackleford Cormorant.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Tim's time travel teapot (try saying that three times fast).
  • Karma Houdini: Poh, in-canon. Even Esther is helpless before his dickishness. Until he's arrested and presumably sent to a mental institution for kidnapping postmen.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Tim's girlfriend Riley points out that the time-travel teapot makes no sense whatsoever, and that The Boy's name can't really be "The Boy". She gets no answers, because in the first place the teapot does work, and in the second her half-dressed form has rendered The Boy incoherent.
  • Land of My Fathers and Their Sheep: Wales gets quite a few mentions, from Tessa and Rachel deciding they should flee to Swansea and adopt new identities and later ending up there on their slide into evil, to Tim leaving for exile there and Esther and The Boy going there to meet him (it's raining heavily for most of their time there, but that's Wales for you.)
  • Lesbian Space Vampire: Abducted by a Flying Saucer, Shelley wonders what kind of alien has abducted her, between The Greys ("with their probing ways") Reptilians planning to conquer the galaxy, or "Space Vampires of Planet Saphhus X" ("You have a...pleasing form, Earth creature.")
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: First Tessa and Rachel, and a few secondary characters. Then Ryan, Shelley, Tim and Amy join the cast with Fallon Young joins shortly after. The next major group is the schoolkids - The Boy, Esther, Sarah, Milford, Carrot, etc. - and towards the end there's the nascent Bad Machinery characters too. Then there's recurring characters who show up for a storyline and then go Out of Focus again, like Hugo, Gibbous Moon, or Natalie Durand, and minor characters like Hamilton Percy who pop up only occasionally. When salty old seadog Ernest first appears, there's a note beside the comic reading "I keep creating new characters. I just can't stop."
  • Louis Cypher: Crazy old Ralph.
  • Mad Scientist: Tim Jones occasionally, Dai Davies generally, Dr. Petrescu totally.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Kinda. After The Boy sleeps with Esther he becomes a Man! (or rather The Man) and uses this to construct a boat. Unfortunately he uses up all his manhood doing this and reverts to "callow youth".
  • The Merch: Among other things, Ryan's expression "Tupping liberty" was put on a t-shirt, and The Boy's "Wales Is OK" t-shirt was Defictionalised. There's a whole store of books, t-shirts, prints, tea towels and tote bags keeping John Allison in tea-bags on the SGR/Bad Machinery site.
  • New Media Are Evil: As canny media-savvy kids, Shauna and Lottie blame their misbehaviour on computer games:

Shauna: Microsoff Word is sposed to be the worst!
Lottie: There's a paperclip what tells you how to be bad.

Amy: What about the man whose brains Shelley ate?
Tim: By some Million-to-One Chance, she ate the 90% of the brain that none of us ever uses.

Shelley: Oh, Des. What have I done?
Des: No, that was me. The food in the green room was very rich.

Amy: I haven't been this surprised since I discovered...something desperately unsurprising.

Some people (on the internet) have written to me to say that they think today's comic is some sort of cuss to Questionable Content. With all the war in the world and the complexities of VAT on my mind, I have no time for that sort of thing. For those of you writing prac. crit. essays, it's a deeper sideswipe at the word-haemorrhaging quasi-OC/Dawsons spiel of the self-interested post-teen. Discuss.

Esther: Caring comes natural to me. Call me...the queen of hearts.
Sarah: Give me your drink. That calls for a spit-take.

  • Spy Catsuit: Fallon Young, sometimes even when she's not on the job.
  • Stylistic Suck: Shauna and Lottie's newsletter shows they have a good grasp of desktop publishing, but not of English language and grammar.
  • Sudden Videogame Moment: Occasionally someone will get a little "+10" beside them when they win an argument, or a stream of here during sex. When a trio of Goth girls threaten Amy for chatting up their favourite band, Fighting Game-style health bars appear in the panel (also making it clear that Amy's about to take a beating.)
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: During his weird phase, Tim sent Shelley a blueprint labelled : "(In no way a) Doomsday Device - Please look after this for me."
  • Take That: This strip has Shelly winning a large stuffed doll that looks suspiciously like Jar Jar Binks. The very next strip has Shelly and Ryan lighting the doll on fire and tossing it off a bridge while holding an unrelated conversation.
    • The Jeremy Kyle Show is scorned when Shelley, Des and his "adopted" mother appear on it.

Amy: If you don't have a job, you watch Jeremy Kyle! Once more than one generation of your family hasn't had a job, you're allowed to go on and get shouted at.

The Boy: I think the portal just got changed from blow to suck. A subtle, cosmic pun on our situation, best enjoyed from a distance.

Esther: Did we ever find out exactly what's wrong with Mr. Manuel?

  • Undead Tax Exemption: Notably averted. As a zombie, Shelley has trouble getting a job because she's legally dead. Presumably, it's sorted out later.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Many things happen in Tackleford that you'd think people would be more worried about, or that you'd expect to be seen as more important than they are. Just as a particularly obvious example, Fallon accidently opens a window to feudal Japan and spends the next few nights fighting off attacks by ninjas. It's not the start of a story about Japan or the ninjas; just a reason why Shelley and Amy move out.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Tackleford in general. To varying degrees, Tim, Ryan, Fallon and Amy, and Shelley very much so.

Fallon: You don't choose action! Action chooses you!

Shelley: Where unicorns prance and the river of dreams flows?
Amy: You're thinking of the Heroin Lake and the Gun Tree.

    • Copper Edge, where Shelley lodges as a zombie.

Amy: Copper Edge is nice. They rob you, then shoot you so you don't feel bad.

  • Yandere: Riley is quite jealous of other ladies who get close to Tim, and helps sabotage his mayoral career to get the two of them exiled to Wales without his friends to distract them. He's not all that upset when he finds out.

Giant Days is a Spin-Off of SGR that follows Esther de Groot to university, and provides examples of:

Alpha Bitch #1: Susan Ptolemy, 19, "a dangerous loose cannon who plays outside the rules."
Alpha Bitch #2: Bleugh, is that from her Facebook?
Alpha Bitch #3: No, it's quote from the Chief Inspector of Northamptonshire Constabulary.
Alpha Bitch #2: "'...but, she gets the job done', he added reluctantly."

Ed: Oh Christ. Everything is so SCANTY. Can't concentrate... Bag, Ed. UNDER BED. FIGHT THIS.

Daisy: FACE THE AWESOME POWER OF YOGIC FLYING
Nita What.

Anna: Head girls are a special breed! Naturally selected over seven years along strict Darwinian lines!
Nita: DESTINED TO RULE!

Alpha Bitch #1: You see, to be head girl of a prestigious English school...you have to have mastered a fighting style.
Anna Trevellian: Team GB Captain, Taekwando

  1. Nabokova = girl Nabokov.
  2. Chancellor Of The Exchequer, at the time
  3. It's like a more low-rent Jerry Springer, but not quite as weird, and the host just wants to berate the guests for being scum.
  4. in-universe