By John Allison
I recently looked at Allison’s Scary Go Round (see here) – a series so big it rather intimidated and confused me initially before it eventually enthralled and entertained me. But Ghosts is something different(ish) – it’s still a Scary Go Round story, but here it’s very much a self contained affair, with just four members of the regular cast making an appearance in this very typically Scary Go Round adventure from 2007, 40 pages in black, white and blue. Or, as Allison puts it on the back cover:
“A very mildly bone-chilling tale of low-level suburban haunting”
First off, artistically, it’s slightly bigger, slightly more open and it shows off Allison the artist far better than his online strips do. The artwork in Ghost is quite lovely all the way through, Allison’s got a style and a line I could read over and over. It’s not just the ridiculous, insane situations and the lack of reliance on a traditional narrative that Allison inherits from Hewlett and Martin – in fact, for those of us old enough to imagine it – something like Scary Go Round would have sat rather well in the pages of Deadline magazine.
Then there’s an actual story. Well, sort of. Anyone who reads Allison will know he’s not a big fan of a complicated, linear storyline. He’s far more the type to invent an idea, drop his characters in it and then play around with it for a bit, before moving onto the next strange idea. And that’s just what he’s done here. Ghosts is a simple setup – heroines Shelley and Amy (mainstays of Scary Go Round) move house on a whim, signing the papers just a little too quickly and not really paying attention to the estate agent’s desperation nto shift this particular property off his books.
Doesn’t take long for Shelley and Amy to find out why this desirable residence had so much trouble finding tennants – as a trombone playing ghostie turns up in the night, ruining anyone’s chance of sleep. Even resident Scary Go Round Goth Esther can’t help get shot of our noisy spectral house-sitter. In the end, it’s Ryan who solves the spooky(ish) mystery and lays this ghost to rest.
Like Scary Go Round, the actual story is practically (cough, ahem, apologies for this in advance) immaterial. It’s silly, slight and more an idea on a back of a stamp than story. But, just like Scary Go Round, it just simply doesn’t matter.
The fun in Ghosts (and there’s lots of that) is in the interplay and the fun between the characters. Even when trapped in a cupboard there’s fun to be had (and cake. Definitely cake.)
And it’s fun. Lots of fun. I may have mentioned that before. In which case it’s doubly fun. A great set of comedy dialogue set pieces tacked onto an idea of a story. Lovely stuff. And with just four main characters it doesn’t suffer from some of the “who’s that again” that I found with SGR itself. Very nice indeed.
John Allison’s Website is here, his shop is here. The Scary Go Round archive is here, his new ongoing series Bad Machinery starts here, but recently he’s been doing the mini Giant Days series. These webcomics people just have so much linkage going on, don’t they?