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 / schedule Ended
Launch date 2002-06-04[1]
End date 2009-09-11[2]
Genre(s) Paranormal, comedy
Preceded by Bobbins 1998-09-21 to 2002-06-03
Followed by Bad Machinery 2009-09-21 to present

Scary Go Round was a 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[6] 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]

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]

Major characters[edit]


  • Shelley Winters: Daft and whimsical, Shelley is the unofficial protagonist of Scary Go Round. She is ranked № 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: Adolescent goth. Lost her virginity to The Boy in a caravan in Wales.

Recurring characters[edit]


  • Desmond Fish-Man: This scaly green mer-man is Ryan's roommate. He is cowardly and has the temperament of a toddler.
  • Fallon Young: Once Ryan's girlfriend and a close friend of Shelley, her former career as a professional assassin and her accompanying violent streak made her persona non-grata among the main cast. However, she has resurfaced as a co-worker of Shelley's. She also appears in the Bobbins comic strip.
  • Hugo Rodriguez: Jive-talking Ecuadorean entrepreneur. Current employer of Fallon and former employer of Shelley until she quit to be replaced with a minor character of the teen cast called Carrot.


  • Comrade Bat: Ryan's second pet bat.


  • Paul Milford: Oafish friend of The Boy.
  • Sarah Grote: Best friend and fellow goth of Dark Esther, dated Ryan for a period of time.
  • Carrot Scruggs: Backward youth with a pyramid-shaped orange Afro.

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 has not returned.
  • 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 at on an evil island, repenting after leaving with Shelley. Written out when revealed to be running an underground smuggling ring, and sent to jail.


  • Friend Bat: Ryan's first pet bat (deceased).


  • 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.


Looks, Brains and Everything
While trying to investigate a murder, Shelley, the protagonist, gets murdered herself. Later, after being raised from the dead as a zombie, the chapter follows her being undead, with a bit of brain-eating.
Tim and Fallon go to Romania to stop the nefarious doings of the evil Dr. Petrescu. Amy's secret attraction for Tim is discovered.
Ballad of the Man
Ryan finally meets his lady, Natalie. However, his elderly landlady and her associates do not think much of her, believing that she is a succubus, and arrange to have her killed in an explosion.
Bad Religion
Fallon, with the help of Hugo, endeavors to save a depressed Ryan from being brainwashed and sold into white slavery by a cult as well as survive an encounter with a Devil Bear formerly owned by Jimi Hendrix on the Isle of Wight.
Count My Toes
Rachel convinces a local gang that a woman they are looking for has dyed her hair orange and now looks exactly like Shelley, leading to the latter's tragic (and gruesome) death. While waiting in line to get into Heaven, Shelley meets the recently deceased Natalie, who shows her the ropes in purgatory.
Time Teapot
Shelley and Amy travel to 1840 via the titular teapot, an invention of Tim's which they have stolen. Wacky Victorian hijinks ensue.
The Child
The mysterious Child's declaration that "Things are going to change!" leads to many changes around Tackleford, among them the comic's shift of focus to the local high school, where many stories in 2005 and 2006 were set, and a few small changes in drawing style.
The Election
Tim runs for mayor of Tackleford.
Shelley is kidnapped by the League of Enemies, who try to undermine Tim's administration by cloning a zombie version of Shelley and setting her loose in Tackleford.
A plot on the part of Tackleford High School's administrators to remove The Boy and Esther's class from existence in order to budget instant coffee has unforeseen consequences.
Battle of the Bands
A talent show at the local high school features many unusual musical acts.
Beyond the Veil
Ryan decides to find out how Natalie is doing in the afterlife, but is unaware of what awaits him...
Big Ideas
Tim is challenged to an Invent-Off by a local professor Dai Davies, who turns out to be backed by sinister forces.
Giant Days
Dark Esther and The Boy travel to Wales to convince Tim to return; The Boy begins a relationship with and loses his virginity to Dark Esther; Shelley attempts revenge against Prof. Davies; Erin accidentally drinks the Professor's "get-massive" potion. The Boy and Esther are bumped from reoccurring to main character status, and remain for the rest of the comic.
Aw Hell
Fallon finally escapes from the Prisoner-style village she has been trapped in, and enlists Shelley and Amy to locate the missing Ryan. Rachel and Tessa return.
Super Crisis Quests
The Devil recruits Bob Crowley to help unleash a demonic army on the world. Shelley organizes the "Super Best Friends Society" and consults the duplicitous (and foul-smelling) Mother Shipton to prevent the end of the world. This chapter effectively writes Erin Winters out of the comic.

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
  • 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 2009-06-25. 
  2. ^ "Post a Comment On: A hundred dance moves per minute". Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  3. ^ "Monday-Friday Comic by John Allison". Scary Go Round. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  4. ^ O'Brien, Danny (26 February 2006). "Site test: The tooniverse explodes". Sunday Times. p. 27. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  5. ^ Eagle, James (6 May 2006). "Wired: James Eagle looks at what the net has to offer in the form of comic strips".The Morning Star
  6. ^ a b Warmoth
  7. ^ a b c d Stephen Gerding (29 September 2004). "SCARY-GO-ROUND: A John Allison Interview". Kung Fu Rodeo. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  8. ^ Leah Fitzgerald (1 March 2003). "Scary Go Chat: An online interview with John Allison by Leah Fitzgerald". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  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 2009-06-25. 
  14. ^ Allison, John. "Scary Go Round :: About the comic". Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  15. ^ "Scary Go Round :: The Cast". Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  16. ^ Allison, John (6 April 2008). "A hundred dance moves per minute: The magic hour". Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  17. ^ a b c "SCARY GO ROUND T-SHIRTS, COMIC BOOKS". Archived from the original on 29 May 2005. 


External links[edit]