Eric: Things Change, after all.
(From Scary Go Round.)
Oddly, given that it is the harvest time, September has become a time for beginnings rather than endings. It is the beginning of the school year. It is the traditional start of the 'new fall season' on television. It is the start of the Halloween buildup and therefore the start of the broader Christmas and Holiday buildup. It is when the new car lineups start to emerge from their showrooms.
But beginnings and endings are inexorably tied together. The new school year is paired to the end of summer. New fall television shows also mean cancelled shows disappear once and for all (this year into the giant sucking vortex generated by Jay Leno's ego chin). Before Halloween and 2010 model cars can take over store shelves and showrooms, there must be clearance sales for beach bric-a-brac and the 2009 Honda Fit. Ends must be tied or intentionally left swinging in the breeze.
Which brings us around to Scary Go Round, which has wrapped up its seven year run today.
Scary Go Round began as the sequel to Bobbins, a strip that itself was a sequel to various other projects (most notably a non-'web' comic called Cat Flap) meant less as a direct sequel and more as an evolution of the comic's style and substance alike. New sensibilities accompanied the strip, and while old friends showed back up (and in some cases came to dominance), they were seen through a new lens. This was ostensibly a horror strip, but one as done by John Allison, which is to say with amazingly good dialogue, a wry sense of humor, and 'pluck.' Indeed, though I am not an Anglophile by nature (I have nothing against Great Britain, mind, but I do not have a reverence for it the way some I know do), I find myself enjoying the strip like I would a cracking boy's yarn from the 50's. "We will do our best because we are British and British is best" Shelly Winters said in the penultimate chapter, and that may be as good a description of Scary Go Round's philosophy as any.
And in many ways, Scary Go Round was indeed the best. It had some of if not the best dialogue on the planet -- Allison's command of banter is not unlike an expert jazz guitarist's command of a twelve-string: you might not entirely know how he'll get to the coda, but my God you're going to enjoy the trip. His style -- both of art and of language -- has been influential. (There was a time when people accused Jeph Jacques of 'stealing' John Allison's mojo for Questionable Content, most notably, and to be certain there was a clear path of influence. However, Questionable Content's evolution went in a very different direction. Still, one can see echoes of Allison's work in QC if you look for them, and QC is itself one of the seminal webcomics of the current era.) It never became complacent -- Allison constantly reinvented his style and his toolbox, unafraid to bring even popular characters to horrible ends and to launch new ones in their stead. None of the characters (not even dear old Len Pickering) from the first few strips made even cameo appearances in the last few strips. Grade school students became high school students and now are off to University. Every so often, someone ended up condemned to Hell.
And now it is done. As with Bobbins before, Allison is ready for a fresh start free of monumental and dense backstory and intimidating if beautiful archive pages. After fifty one chapters, Scary Go Round ended today.
So long live beginnings. On Monday, September 21st, a new comic strip will begin -- starting at least at Scary Go Round's site (which itself is undergoing change) before no-doubt migrating to its own domain. The early twentiesomethings of Bobbins and the melange of children, adults, elders, fish-men and the deceased that were Scary Go Round will give way to something new -- something that perhaps reflects Allison's current state of mind better. We know that the next strip will grow out of this one, though in what way and to what degree we do not currently know (we don't even have a title as yet). "Things are going to change," we've heard for some time now, and this is when it starts.
He has stated that Shelly Winters -- she of Doctor Ladysounds and the Ginger Ninja -- will not be a part of this new strip. And indeed, the strip ends with her driving out of Tackleford once and for all. Perhaps Ryan and Amy will be the centerpiece of the next step. Or perhaps Lottie and her chums will take the whole town over. Or perhaps it will be someone entirely new, with only hints here and there of who came before. I don't know.
What I do know is this. Change isn't bad. Like conflict, change can be scary but in the end it's what makes these things worth pursuing. Scary Go Round has been a good web destination, but it's time for something new. The New Fall Season is upon us, and new beginnings are in the air.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work. I have changes of my own which must be wrought, after all, and September waits for no man.
Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 11, 2009 10:25 AM
Thank you, for this. I saved SGR for last on the trawl this morning, so as to have it fresh for reflection today, and as usual you say it best. I haven't thanked Allison yet, because it will take more reflection before I can adequately express my gratitude, and because I'm somehow still expecting a new strip on Monday. One of the challenges about writing a serial is that it's really hard to end, because there are so many transitions already within the work (51, I'd dare say in this case) that it's hard to see this as The End. Especially knowing that in many ways it's not. And the joy that I get from that is probably the best thing I can say for it.
Comment from: lurkerwithout.livejournal.com posted at September 11, 2009 3:02 PM
I'm missing SGR already. I can only hope Allison's next comic will feature more Space Owls...
The most remarkable thing about SGR is the art style. It was completely different than the art of Bobbins, which I actually liked better.
Of all the characters, I really liked the development of Eustace "The Boy" and Esther De Groot. Their interaction was a novel itself, all the way until they separated and left for Oxford and Cambridge respectively.
I suspect his next project will be something completely different, new cast and perhaps even a new location altogether. I think he's done all he could with the characters he's developed.
Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at September 17, 2009 12:35 PM
For my part I will always miss Tim Jones, man of action and inventor extraordinaire, forced to live the rest of his life in blissful exile in the treacherous and flood-prone land of Wales.
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