Scary Go Round

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Scary Go Round
Scarygoround 20060922 panel 1 shelley amy erin.png
characters from left to right: Shelley, Amy and Erin
Author(s)John Allison
Current status/scheduleEnded
Launch dateJune 4, 2002 (2002-06-04)[1]
End dateSeptember 11, 2009 (2009-09-11)[2]
Genre(s)Paranormal, comedy
Preceded byBobbins 1998-09-21 to 2002-06-03
Followed byBad Machinery 2009-09-21 to present

Scary Go Round was a 2002 webcomic set in the fictional West Yorkshire[3] town of Tackleford, England, and written by John Allison. Scary Go Round was named one of the best webcomics of 2004 by The Webcomics Examiner. The Sunday Times describes it as "postmodern Brit horror" that is "subtle and stylishly drawn, with a bold cartoon edge".[4] The Morning Star has called it "brilliant, bonkers" and "the best British strip that I've yet found".[5] Scary Go Round won the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards in 2003 for Outstanding Original Digital Art, in 2005 and in 2007 for Outstanding Comic.

Scary Go Round started on 4 June 2002 as part of Modern Tales, roughly following on from Allison's previous comic, Bobbins. It featured bizarre happenings, a "quirky cast",[6] strange creatures, parallel universes, zombies, time travel, reincarnation, "and random spots of tea". Initially set as the lives of the barmaids Tessa and Rachel, it soon came to focus on another set of characters entirely. Amy Chilton, one of the core characters to succeed Tessa and Rachel, successfully made the transition from the author's 17-year-old scribblings, through the Bobbins era, and into Scary Go Round. Shelley Winters, another of the characters who made the transition from Bobbins, also featured heavily throughout the webcomic.

Scary Go Round ended on 11 September 2009. It was followed by a new strip, Bad Machinery, with elements in common with Scary Go Round, similar to its own transition from Bobbins.


John Allison started hand drawing and scanning the original Bobbins webcomic on 21 September 1998 up until mid 2000 when he changed to computer drawing with Adobe Illustrator.[7][8] Stephen Gerding described Bobbins as "kind of like Friends, or Coupling with an office atmosphere, and John noted his later episodes got very bizarre and this, beginning in 2002, led to the supernatural tone of Scary Go Round.[7]

In a blog post dated 9 July 2009 Allison announced Scary Go Round would be ending in September 2009. It was replaced by Bad Machinery, a new strip with elements in common with SGR, similar to its transition from Bobbins.[9]

Style and influences[edit]

Though Scary Go Round does feature ongoing character arcs, and initially featured a lot of light horror content – influenced by print comic Scream!, J. Otto Seibold, Pete Fowler, Chris Sale, James Kochalka and Shag[7] – it is primarily a comedy; however, it is not a joke comic of the classic setup-punchline format. Its quirky sense of humor manifests primarily in the characters' distinctive dialogue.[7][10]

Stylistic changes[edit]

A page of September 2006.

From its inception in 2002 until August 2005, Scary Go Round was drawn in Adobe Illustrator. During that period Allison changed the style at least twice.[10] Some readers were upset when Allison killed off a major character,[11] and he admitted that this was a mistake and that he had since moved towards "ambient excitement" rather than shock.[12] Notable shifts in art style during this period include:

  • 24 November 2003: Characters' faces are outlined in a slightly darker flesh tone.
  • 4 January 2004: Characters' heads are disproportionately large for their bodies.
  • 25 January 2004: After three weeks, the "big heads" era ends.
  • 11 April 2005: Allison briefly switches to hand-drawn art, before replacing the hand-drawn strips with copies rendered in Illustrator. Characters are given new, distinctive faces: for example, Shelley's face becomes more square, Ryan develops large round eyes, and The Boy is given a straighter nose.

On 28 August 2005, Allison switched to hand-drawn art. This period lasted until the return of Illustrator on 17 November 2005. The characters' Illustrator-drawn faces were quite different from the August versions, having become harder-edged and less attractive due a professed lack of time.[13]

Hand-drawn art returned permanently on 17 April 2006. Notable shifts in art style during the contemporary hand-drawn period include:

  • 5 November 2007: Allison switches to a larger page size, making the inks much thinner in the final scans. Female characters are given lips.
  • 3 December 2007: After four weeks, the "lips" era ends.
  • 1 January 2008: Allison begins drawing the strip using art software Manga Studio.[14]


Scary Go Round focuses on two overlapping but nevertheless distinct casts of characters: a set of bohemian twentysomethings and a group of uniform-wearing students at Tackleford Grammar school.[15]

Current major characters[edit]

  • Shelley Winters: Daft and whimsical, Shelley is the unofficial protagonist of Scary Go Round. She is ranked No. 4 in the country for being disaster-prone, even dying on more than one occasion, and has a deep love for jam. Over the course of the strip she has held many jobs, ranging from mayor's assistant to newspaper reporter to a waitress. The final SGR strip shows her leaving for London and a job with the Ministry of History.
  • Amy Chilton: Tattooed, pink-haired friend of Shelley and daughter of journalism professor Len Pickering. Amy began the strip as a spoiled art student but has since become the most level-headed and successful of the main adult characters. She continues in Bad Machinery as Amy Beckwith-Chilton, married to Ryan Beckwith.
  • Ryan Beckwith: Aimless, good-natured friend of Amy and Shelley, given to buffoonish musings and Americanisms. He continues in Bad Machinery, married to Amy Chilton.
  • Eustace Boyce, aka "The Boy": Nebbishy former assistant to one-time major character Tim Jones, The Boy and his girlfriend Dark Esther (see below) serve as protagonists of the story arcs that focus on the teenage cast. Lost his virginity to Esther de Groot in a caravan in Wales.
  • Esther de Groot, aka "Dark Esther": Adolescent goth. Lost her virginity to The Boy in a caravan in Wales, before they became a couple which would last until the end of the series. Esther would go on to be the principal character in Allison's later series Giant Days, centred around her time at university.

Former major characters[edit]

  • Tim Jones: This suave genius inventor was for many years the anchor of the cast: older brother figure to Shelley and Ryan, crush object of Amy, mentor to The Boy, and mayor of the town. He was exiled to Wales in 2006 and didn't appear again during the comic's run.
  • Riley Beckwith: Ryan's sister and Tim's wife, Riley's low opinion of the main cast led her to concoct a successful scheme to remove herself and Tim from the other characters' orbit. She's a dedicated believer in aliens.
  • Tessa and Rachel: These two barmaids were the original protagonists of Scary Go Round, but as the current cast came to dominate the proceedings, they first became villains and then were dispensed with (in Rachel's case, via immolation).
  • Gibbous Moon: A recurring character, a marine biologist and short-term love interest for Ryan, first introduced interning on an evil island, repenting after leaving with Shelley. Written out when revealed to be running an underground smuggling ring, and sent to jail.
Erin Winters
  • Erin Winters: Shelley's intelligent, sensible, serious sister. Erin was put under a spell by villain Bob Crowley that led her to follow him into a bleak hell dimension from which the creator of Scary Go Round asserts she will not return.[16] As of the new comic Bad Machinery it appears she has returned as a newspaper journalist, at least temporarily.

Collected editions[edit]

  • Looks Brains and Everything – The first Scary Go Round collection : strips from 27 August 2002 to 28 February 2003
  • Blame The Sky – The second Scary Go Round collection : strips from 4 March 2003 to 27 March 2004
  • Skellington – The 3rd Scary Go Round collection : strips from 9 May 2004 to 11 March 2005
  • The Retribution Index – The 4th Scary Go Round collection : strips from 14 March 2005 to 17 February 2006
  • Great Aches – The 5th Scary Go Round collection : strips from 27 February 2006 to 22 December 2006
  • Ahoy Hoy! – The 6th Scary Go Round collection : strips from 1 January 2007 to 2 November 2007
  • Peloton – The 7th Scary Go Round collection : strips from 5 November 2007 to 5 September 2008
  • Recklessly Yours – The 8th and Final Scary Go Round collection : strips from 8 September 2008 to 11 September 2009

Spin Off Publications[edit]

  • Girl Spy[17]
  • Scareodeleria 1[17]
  • Heavy Metal Hearts + Flowers: A Scary Go Round Story.[17] Keenspot
  • Ghosts
  • Giant Days
  • Giant Days 2
  • Giant Days 3
  • Murder She Writes

The Giant Days book is a completely different story from the online chapter of the same name, although it shares the same protagonist (Esther de Groot).


  1. ^ "Mo/Tu/Th/Fr Comic by John Allison". Scary Go Round. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  2. ^ "Post a Comment On: A hundred dance moves per minute". Retrieved 12 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Monday-Friday Comic by John Allison". Scary Go Round. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  4. ^ O'Brien, Danny (26 February 2006). "Site test: The tooniverse explodes". The Sunday Times. p. 27[S]. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  5. ^ Eagle, James (6 May 2006). "Wired: James Eagle looks at what the net has to offer in the form of comic strips". Morning Star.
  6. ^ Warmoth
  7. ^ a b c d Stephen Gerding (29 September 2004). "SCARY-GO-ROUND: A John Allison Interview". Kung Fu Rodeo. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  8. ^ Leah Fitzgerald (1 March 2003). "Scary Go Chat: An online interview with John Allison by Leah Fitzgerald". Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  9. ^ John Allison (9 July 2009). "The end, the beginning". SGRBlogspot. Blogspot. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  10. ^ a b Whitney
  11. ^ thunderchunky
  12. ^ Tama Leaver
  13. ^ "Mo/Tu/Th/Fr Comic by John Allison". Scary Go Round. 17 November 2005. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  14. ^ Allison, John. "Scary Go Round :: About the comic". Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  15. ^ "Scary Go Round :: The Cast". Retrieved 9 July 2009.
  16. ^ Allison, John (6 April 2008). "A hundred dance moves per minute: The magic hour". Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  17. ^ a b c "SCARY GO ROUND T-SHIRTS, COMIC BOOKS". Archived from the original on 29 May 2005.


External links[edit]