Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yore questiens answer'd

Q. I know that you're selling out of certain tshirts soon, but are you still continuing to sell custom prints of SGR strips? Or are those going to be discontinued as well?

Over the years I have taken careful aim at my foot with a favoured firearm but man is the learning animal and I... am a man. Most Scary Go Round items will remain available until they run out naturally (the books tend to last three or four years) but in the case of custom prints, that's never.

Q. What has been your favourite story arc over the years? Also, if I'm allowed two questions, which character are you most proud of creating and developing?

My favourite story arc is the story where The Boy goes on the French exchange and meets the Easter Bell and Elodie. It was exciting to write and fun to draw. The character I'm most pleased with is Ryan.

Q. Is there a single panel or page that you like the most? Some scene that just came out better than you'd ever planned?

A. This was the point where finally I started drawing like I wanted to.

Q. What have we done to make you hate us so much that you would deny us Scary Go Round evermore? I know some of us are Americans but this is a bit much.

A. The way that some Americans think that people from other countries hate them is peculiar. You won the culture wars, everyone likes Coca Cola. Remember that cowboy man who was in charge? We just thought he was funny. I love America and Americans but not as much as I love Britain and the Queen. Who can forget "Seven Seas Of Rye"?

Q. I always notice the characters' clothing, especially the female characters -- do you have any kind of background in fashion? They always seem to be wearing very accurately-observed, current fashions, and I'm intrigued that you take the time to dress them that way. I'd love to hear about that.

A. I think fashion is interesting and women's fashion in particular! Dressing a man is essentially the business of covering five tube-shaped areas. Here's a shirt, raise the waistline on the trousers an inch every ten years. But the shifting sands of women's fashion provide the artist with a world of new things to try drawing every six months and a way to say something indelible about the characters. This was particularly helpful early on when I, like most artists, drew people's faces and bodies fairly generically.

Q. Is there any chance of a Scary Go Round anthology?

A. I'm not sure where the notion of this 1800+-page book came from but I imagine that it exists in the same place as Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film - development hell! Impossible, impossible to practically produce.

Q. Will I still get Dr. Ladysounds' Top 20 music picks? I am over 45 and no longer with the hookup to know what's worth listening to, as the radio is aimed at my teenaged daughter and I can no longer throw myself in front of it to protect her.

A. This question will be answered in a special, terrible comic on Thursday. Shelley is capricious and her contract demands are outrageous, it is a matter that will take some negotiation.

Q. Will we see what happens with Roxy Postlethwaite before the
conclusion, or did I somehow miss that because it was a
limited-distribution story packed in with one of the collections?

A. Ho ho! This reader is referring to my ending of the Erin Winters saga on a limited-to-400 mini-comic. Hugo refers to his run-in with London types in the Super Crisis Quests story; his teenage protege was wooed away by big-city money, signed a record deal that went nowhere, had a small part in "Casualty" and is now working in a branch of Agent Provocateur in Birmingham.

Q. Where did Desmond Fish-Man come from? Lets see more of him before the series ends!

A. Poor Des, we never did find out his origin! While I'd like to think that this will be answered in the new comic, Desmond is a figure apparently reviled by a large section of my readership (presumably the ones who do not agree with me that Jar Jar Binks is "totally wickles" - how wude). So while concept sketches exist for his origin story and continued appearances, his future is in the balance.

Q. Will Shelley Winters be in the new comic?

A. When I was coming up with the ideas for the new comic I had two that I worked up: the one you are about to see, and a Shelley Winters comic based at the Ministry of History. I hope to make some of those Shelley stories into books but it won't be for a few years. I love writing and drawing her though so I might do some one-offs on the blog.

Q. Will we see Ryan again? He is like a role model to me and I will be sad if we don't.

A. Like Shelley, I hope to find something productive for him to do as I enjoy writing him a great deal.

Q. According to the "About" bit of your site you were a journalist before you were a cartoonist. So how did you become a cartoonist? What made you sit down and start drawing Bobbins? Why cartooning rather than any other medium?

A. I don't know what the answer to this is! I grew up somewhat remotely from my schoolfriends and making comics was how I filled the time at home. I'm never bored when I'm drawing and making things up and looking around me on the train or the bus, people prodding at their phones or making deathly chitchat seem more bored than they've ever been, so I think that I keep going in the opposite direction as fast as I can!

Q. Scary-go-round used to be mainly about 20-somethings (I think)... then the focus shifted more to teenagers... and now the main characters are children. Can you confirm that (a) you are slipping into a second childhood, and (b) the new comic will be Tackleford Toddlers?

A. When you're 21 you think everyone in the world is your age or irrelevant. I don't know, perhaps you've read... most webcomics? I have always wanted to write both older and younger characters and as I've got older, I realised how trivial most of the things that bothered me as a 22-year old were. Children are exciting to write because they don't know where the limits are, older people are fun to write because they aren't cowed by fear or embarrassment. Far from a "second childhood", I am simply trying to crumble as discreetly as possible.

Q. I always wondered what became of Holly/Molly. She was a semi-homicidal multiple
personality - she would have fit right in with Scary-Go-Round. She could have escaped
from that mental institution and began to stalk old friends. Something to consider for the new comic?

A. When I started introducing characters from Bobbins into Scary Go Round, it was mostly because I wasn't that good at making up characters at that point. I needed to flesh out the cast and it was the easiest way to do it! But I considered Holly a bit flat in 1999, let alone 2004.

Q. My question concerns Natalie Durand. During scenes with her in the afterlife, she is sometimes depicted as normal, sometimes as a crazy eyed skeleton, and one illustration appeared to have her giving off a reflection of the mottled drowned girl who tried to pick Ryan up in the afterlife bar. What exactly was going on there? Can she shift shapes, and if so why did she appear as a skeleton to Ryan, and then a drowned girl?

A. When I made those afterlife comics I tried to make them dreamlike and illogical, people would see people from their schooldays, people wouldn't be visually consistent, or one person would be another person but you didn't recognise them. The implication was that none of it was actually happening, that it was all imagined or open to interpretation! I may not have made this particularly clear. Or indeed clear at all. But there is no law saying I have to.

Q. Would you mind doing a long time silent fan a favour by making up a happy ending for Moon? I am always so sad at how her life is treating her.

A. Moon got out of jail after 9 years aged 32 and got a job as a catfish wrangler in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. She eventually married an Okie noodler named Bobby McGinty and had a little baby called Clyde.

Q. What ever happened to Tessa and Rachel respectively?

A. Rachel was immolated in a giant wicker vole and Tessa left town thereafter with good reason!

Q. Howdy John, I fairly recently latched onto SGR (during the Atlantis story), and have been wondering how you draw the comic? It looks like its just raw pencils scanned in and colored, but I am not sure. I love the style and as an artist would really like to know how its done?

A. I use Manga Studio 4 to draw itand Photoshop to colour it and a Wacom Cintiq 15X that mysteriously gets hotter by the day. When it finally bursts into flames we will find out what kind of "man" I am.

Q. I was just wondering if the new stuff will be completely new, or if we will still get to see some of the characters we know and love.

A. Some! But not all. The first 12 comics introduce the central characters, almost all of whom you've seen before. Beyond that, don't expect any Lazarus-style comebacks or familiar phoenices from the flames.

Q. My question is, are you suitably proud of yourself? I hope you are.
A. I feel... young. Give me another ten years and ask me again.


I hope this answers most of what people want to know. If you have any more questions that I somehow skirted (such as, do you like ham? what is your favourite jam? did you lose that toe to a clam?) write them in the comments and I'll do a follow up on Friday. Because this blog definitely needs me to talk about myself some more.


Brian Evinou said...

John! You are the best. I did some fanart for you, you can see it here...
Hope to meet you at SPX! Also, will you have Pangea reunion tour shirts there? Those are my favs.

Bri said...

John, thank you for the wonderful ride that was Scary Go Round!

To a budding journalist you give hope that one day I can abandon journalism completely.

Kelly Anne said...

If I may, I toss in my vote for a Desmond origin story. I quite like him! I will reiterate this at SPX, just wait and see.

DarcyV said...

I am so glad to find out what happened to Moon too! I love Moon!

Scary Go Round was awesome! Thank you!

And I am using too many exclamation marks...

JeffKevlar said...

I just want to say thanks for the years of enjoyment scarygoround has given me. I, for one, am looking forward with happy anticipation to the new series.

Miranda M. said...

Dear John A,

I've been a quiet reader for years and years now, and I just wanted to thank you for a really terrific comic that always took risks and never grew stale. I look forward to your upcoming work.

I wanted to ask you: why do you think magical realism appeal to you, and perhaps the webcomic community at large? SGR reads like a slice of life comic, but with Fairies and Adventure. What does this allow you to communicate that a more fact-bound form wouldn't?

for tartness said...

My question refers to man of mystery Tim "tupping liberty" Jones. I loved Tim and was just wondering how Wales is treating him? Has he fathered a mini-Tim yet? Invented anything earth-shattering lately? How's Riley doing?

Anonymous said...

For those of us who didn't get that 400-LE mini-comic, care to summarize what became of Erin? I always felt bad for the poor girl - accidentally Amazonized, badly used, and then erased from all memory.

Karl said...

If you are ever in Texas, I will buy you a whiskey.

We spell it with an e here ;-)

Anonymous said...

I assume you're trying to be stealth with your new comic-ings, but your mention that Ryan isn't going to be a main character (and will just perhaps get an occasional nod since we all love him) leads me to believe the same of Amy? And you seem to dislike the early 20s crowd (as a cynical almost 19 year old I really can't blame you), so does that mean that the fate of beloved Dark Esther shall also remain somewhat unknown? I rather hope not, since she isn't the average late teen, but I suppose I can understand why you might go in a different direction.

I've loved SGR, by the way. Your art is probably my favorite of all the comics I read (although I greatly admire Kate Beaton for her ability to make all animals adorable).

Martin said...

I really enjoyed reading this and now have a giddy excitement for what's to come.

Also, I would like to agree with Bri. Journalism looked a lot better four years ago when I picked a major.

Myles said...

What's your favorite day of the week for drawing a new comic? If we switched to an 8-day week, would your choice change? Do you support the Thursdayites ( ) or the Thingites ( )? Is whimsy more important than truth?

I couldn't think of any serious questions about your jam preferences, so I asked these instead.

Marius said...

It worries me that bad things happen to people who do bad things (Moon, Rachel...)

It's almost as if there's some kind of lesson there.

It's good that things turned out well for Ryan - my favorite non-evil character.

K said...

Oh I am bouncing up and down with suppressed excitement about the new comic! How long can you keep us in suspense?

I missed the ending as it happened because I was at the Society of Archivists' Conference, but it was a worthy send-off. You can imagine that the thought of even mini one-offs of Shelley at the Ministry of History fills me with enthusiasm.

I am tempted to write fan comics about Esther at Oxford (I choose to believe she is at Ox and the Boy at Camb) but they would, sadly, be rubbish.

Anyway. You are ace.

Alex said...

I thought the Elodie arc was really nice too, actually. I think that might be my favorite storyline.

Nick Ould said...

Here's my question-

Is Natalie dead or not? She jumped off the bridge in the afterlife, and then we saw her working in a cafe (though this could have been a non-sequitur), but then also in Ryan's afterlife. If she did come back to life, why did she never hook up with everyone else to let them know?

John A said...


Thom said...

Another very quiet reader here. Looking at the archives I think I have read SGR every day for many many years, since about 2004 I think. I probably should have said thank you before now; I suddenly feel very guilty for not doing so, as though I have just remembered I'd told my mother I'd phone her 5 years ago and now she's carked it.

I have been reading SGR via RSS for the past few ages so I have to admit the END came as a total surprise! I did wonder where you were going with all the "University" business. Don't I feel a fool. I am in a sort of shock, to be honest, not having had the warm-up of knowing it was coming. I have often thought of SGR as the only comic in my RSS feed I actually like. Now it's all gone.

Since I cannot think of any intelligent questions to ask you, but I desperately want to hear you talk more about your work, I made this up:

How much planning of your stories do you do in advance? It's seemed that your arcs started off well-formed, got pretty free-form towards the middle, and at the end (I can say that, now that it's finished) they have found something of a happy medium. Was that a conscious decision? Especially with regard to the characters; a 7-year long running comic is a pretty interesting medium in which to develop characters, certainly not like paper strips where the gag is the focus or long-running books like Bone where the story is much more linear. Have you always had a plan for the development of Ryan, Amy etc.? How much of their current selves is what you intended them to be when you first introduced them? Have your story ideas been focused around character development, or is it more of a happy accident? Am I allowed to ask you this many questions at once?

Many thanks for making SGR so good for so long. I very much look forward to your new adventures.

Christophe said...

You just can't let Jar Jar go, can you Allison!

Vincent said...

I am exceptionally glad to hear that Desmond won't be getting his own story line; I find that I've had quite enough of him, really. I've always found something to like in all your characters, all the way back through Bobbins, but Desmond was the sitcom character archetype that I've always detested: cares only about himself, doesn't help others, exists seemingly only to cause others trouble.

But I've read every strip, and I'm happy that you're making a new comic. I loved Bobbins, but the reboot into SGR was good. Similarly, I think that ending SGR and jumping to something new will be a big win for everyone.

Edward said...

A jolly interesting look into the design process of SGR. I had no idea that Desmond was so reviled---I've never had strong feelings about him one way or the other. Interesting to see that Ryan, never a character that did much for me, was one of your favorites.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Fallon; she's been one of my favorites since Bobbins. Was she hard to work into stories?

ThornGhost said...

I really hope Shelley finds her way into the new comic - she's always been a consistently fun character to read about and I wouldn't mind a single bit if it took some lame, last-minute excuse to write her in as a regular character.
In that spirit, if you ultimately choose not to feature Shelley in the new strip, what would be the reasoning behind that decision?

Cabeza said...

The people who don't like Desmond can go hang. He's one of my favorite characters--I find every panel he's in delightful, even if (and sometimes especially if) he's just making expressions in the background.

I would love to see him again, background story or no.

Joel said...

Here's something I've always pondered. In the second story when you killed Shelley was it your intention to get her out of the picture permanently, only to change your mind, Reichenbach Falls style?

Philip said...

I love Desmond! He's my very favorite new SGR character. I'd love to see an origin story, though honestly any sort of hijinks would be appreciated.

(Hated Poh though, plus his Jacksonian father. Egads.)

happysquee said...

I am happy for Moon...and in 9 or so years I shall be looking for her in Locust Grove *g* I'd love to meet you one day as I've been reading since I first linked from WIGU to Bobbins. It makes my nerdy heart happy that you know Jeff as his WIGU and your Bobbins are what started my now 10 year addiction to web-comics. Looking forward to the new stuff!

Heather said...

For your stories I give my thanks;
I prefer them more than I do banks.

I feel like we've been great chums,
as I visit here more than I do my mums.

I'm looking forward to your next romp -
A thousand times better than Marcel Duchamp.

I may come across as having a lot of nerve, but all i want to know is:

what's your favourite preserve?

Malorie said...

Mr. Allison,
I just wanted to send you a large, resounding thank you for writing my favorite web comic for 7.5 years. I am feeling quite sad at the moment, mainly because I don't know what to do now that Scary Go Round is coming to an end. I hope to see Shelly again at some point as she is my comic doppelganger and I love her. :) Looking forward to seeing what is to come. In the meantime, you are wretched for teasing your readers so much. hehe

Anonymous said...

I, too, just wanted to say thanks for writing a great comic for the past years... the mention of Mr. Stephen Harper in one comic provoked resounding laughs from the readers in Canada...

Tim was always my favourite character, by the way.

james said...

John: it's disappointing (but understandable) that you can't make SGR books available indefinitely. Through the use of my guestimational powers, I figure I could order custom prints for every strip for just under $50,000US. What do you say?

Matthew said...

Thank you for the Q&A, and thank you for the years and years of entertainment!

P.S. I am delighted to hear that I am not alone in my burning unceasing hatred for Desmond.

ncm said...

John, thank you for having done SGR.

I always thought you were the world's greatest necktie artist. I hate neckties, but I love yours. Then one day neckties more or less vanished from SGR. Will the next comic have neckties again?

Alex said...

Love your comic. Frankly, I realized tonight, upon coming to terms with this inevitable conclusion, that this is my favorite thing. Looking forward to the next iteration. your writing style is inexplicably hep, yet covered in silly, carefree tudes. Question: will the third coming be the same (or similar) art style as you've concluded SGR with? If so, good. If not so, good.


Alex said...

oops. Also: I want to vote: Desmond is one of my favorite characters.

this "romp romp" was one of Desmond's greatest dances. I don't really care to know his history or his hometown. I just love how childlike his romping typically is. he wears his soul on his arm-scales. I appreciate that. He adds something. To be honest, I think he's a more focused and yet less focused voice than even your child characters are.

Red_Dog said...

Hey Alex, if you want to vote, why not head to the SGR forum at (if you're not there already) and start a voting thread. Hell, I might even do so myself, when I get the chance.

witchsofeastwick said...

Hi John,
Am a long-term reader but not so much of a commenter.
Anyway as said previously by Thom I feel like I've left it too late, sort of like putting off one's uni work and then finding yourself outside the exam hall without knowing what subject one is studying.

But you promised answers to questions so I thought i'd try to think one in order to bask in the glory of a response. Please select any of the following:

So, do you keep your ketchup in the fridge or the cupboard?

Team Price or Andre?

Janeway? Picard? Kirk? Sisko? or that other chappy (show your working)

And while I think of it, I love Scary go round,I love Shelly I love Desmond, I love Amy......and John you're OK

Chris said...

John, have you ever noticed that many of your fans correspond with you in a manner that much resembles the way you write and your characters speak? It is something I have noticed and something I have been tempted to do myself.

I should think that you should take it as a compliment to your writing style because mimicry is a form of great flattery.


Kim Scarborough said...

Yeah, I'd feel better if I knew things worked out okay for Erin. I hope she didn't just get left in Hell...

Christophe said...

She's queen of hell. It was all explained in the Bone Throne book which was shipped with book 7!

Anonymous said...

It is a trivial question indeed, but I must know: Esther! Useless! Which one went to Oxford, and which one went off to be a Filthy Tab? And will the hideous horror of the X5 bus prevent them from ever seeing one another again? *gnaws fingernails*

Also: thank you for the comic, which has given us so much amusement and joy over the years.

Holly said...

I do have a question I don't quite feel was satisfactorily answered...

..Do you mean to say that the rest of the the world DOESN'T hate the USA? I feel lied to, you must be kidding... right?

JonathanCR said...

Thank you for answering my questions with your customary wit and grace! I quite agree - while they say "write what you know", this can get a tad tedious if all everyone knows is 20-something geeks.

For the record, I'm not sure I like Desmond, but he makes me laugh every time I see him. It's the way his limbs curve instead of jointing normally. Although I read more webcomics than is probably healthy for me, Scary-go-Round has been the only one where I really linger to look at the pictures and appreciate them in their own right, rather than just skim them to get a sense of setting as I do with most others.

Anonymous said...

Hello, is it too late to ask a question for this coming Friday? If not, here is one: since an omnibus is obviously out of the question, might you produce a poster featuring all the major characters and villains we've seen in Scary-Go-Round over the years? It would be a great comfort to sleep beneath the watchful gaze of Tim Jones and the Manowar.

Anonymous said...

John, first of all, thank you for putting so much of your time towards this wonderful comic. I can't wait to see the start of the new one.

I know that you have repeatedly stated that it is too costly to re-print the older SCR collections, but have you ever thought of doing a pre-order drive until you have enough to print, or even possibly trying to get them professionally published? I know that I'd give my left lower limb to have a complete collection of all the SCR publications.

Carl said...

John, I just spent the past few days rereading the entire SGR archive. I just have to say it has been wonderful getting to read your work, and I'm looking forward to the new comic.

KNar the Destroyer said...

Selfish and childish yes, but Desmond has a special place in my heart- this is one I IMMENSELY enjoyed:

Also, Ryan is definitely my favorite character, though I love all of them- quirks, clothes, wit and all.