The Webcomic Overlook #116: Bad Machinery

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” So goes the intros to one of America’s most beloved soap operas,Days of our Lives. It always comes to mind when it’s time to finish something and start something new. Yes, it somehow supercedes both “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof and “Closing Time” by Semisonic. The latter two are perhaps superior and less archaic examples, but the hourglass analogy has a sense of timeless poetry.

Observe.

When the sands finally reach the bottom of the hourglass, it’s time to flip that mother over and start something new. Like ending one webcomic and starting a new one. Interestingly, though, while the march of time is new, the contents therein, like those grains of sand, do not change. Sure, the presentation may be different. The swirl pattern of the sand may be different this time. But every person is hardwired to the same themes, which were formed as they were over a culmination of life’s experiences. These are fundamentally unalterable. So the new march goes on with cues that are new yet strangely familiar.

That’s the case with John Allison’s Bad Machinery, the successor to Scary Go Round (which itself was the successor to an earlier work, Bobbins). Everyone knew it was time to flip that hourglass and start something knew. Allison himself admitted as much on the comments section here that Scary Go Round was getting stale.

But amidst the changes … familiarity.


Bad Machinery is still hosted on the old scarygoround.com URL. I’d stretch my hourglass allusion further by equating that URL to the glass container, but then that would be getting far too indulgent about a soap opera I’ve never seen an episode of.

While its pedigree stretches to the early part of the last decade, Bad Machinery by itself is relatively new. The comic launched September of 2009, an innocent, halcyon era when Avatar was not yet the most profitable movie of all time. Now that we’re in the first weeks of April, the first story arc seems to be wrapping up, which makes it an ideal time to see where the comic has gone and where the comic might go.

Allison would probably prefer that Bad Machinery be viewed as a standalone entity, but I, frankly, find that impossible. I read Scary Go Round, and I loved Scary Go Round (reviewed here). Forgetting all that built-up goodwill would require either a lobotomy or a heavy influx of alcoholic beverages. Both sound fun, but the hand-eye coordination required to manipulate a keyboard would suffer tremendously.

So what’s different this go around? With Bad Machinery, Allison seems to be expanding his focus. Scary Go Round focused on a small group of friends. In Bad Machinery, Allison puts his arms around all of Tackleford City. The community becomes Community, with a big “C”.

The story tends to focus on a rather ordinary bunch of three girls and three boys who go to British preparatory school (which is sort of equivalent to American/Canadian junior high). In the course of the story, though, Bad Machinery ultimately ropes plenty of important side characters. Their parents, their teachers, their neighbors, and their civic leaders tend to gain equivalent importance in the ensuing shenanigans. There’s even a couple of Scary Go Round characters in key supporting roles: Ryan and Amy are married now, apparently, with Ryan as the kids’ teacher and Amy as an antiques dealer. The schoolgirls are incredibly fond of Amy, by the way, mainly because she’s living their dream life of being married to their teacher and also because she’s sexy and rockin’ some tattoos.

(On the subject of recurring characters, I can only hope that Erin here is Erin Winters, back from the depths of hell, and my “Save our Erin” campaign was a resounding success.)

Visually, Allison’s artwork takes a more wide-angle look at things. Looking back at Scary Go Round, I noticed that Allison really didn’t do any close-ups. It’s far more apparent here. The new horizontal layouts and the thinner lines tend to shrink the characters. It’s almost as if there’s a commentary somewhere about how the characters have become tiny pieces inhabiting the larger tapestry that is Tackleford City… individuals being just cog in some sort of … bad machinery. (Dun dun dunnnnn!)

(But seriously, I have no idea why this comic is called Bad Machinery. I mean … well, a piece of bad machinery does factor into the plot eventually, but I don’t know if that was Allison’s inspiration. More on that later.)

Unfortunately, I think both of these characteristics — the focus on community and the underemphasis on the individual — tends to harm the personalities somewhat. With a cast new characters, inherently there’s the tricky balance of both making each personality distinguishable, memorable, and sympathetic, while, at the same time, avoiding outlandish traits that you can’t support om the long run. Unfortunately, Allison plays things entirely too safe. Very few of the new crew immediately jumped out as sparkling personalities whose everyday adventures I want to follow. Every last one of the six kids is essentially playing the same straight man (or woman).

Even their names are unmemorable. I don’t know if it because all British names sound the same or what, but they all melt into the same ball of anonymity. I think the dark-haired one was named Lottie? The rest… a cipher.

The ones that did seem at all interesting were a few of the side characters. Vets like Ryan and Amy have already accumulated an the emotional cachet from a previous series. The crazy Russian lady and the cursed Russian football owner are also notable for being portrayed so outlandishly that they standout from the sea of blandness that is Tackleford City.

Also hurting Bad Machinery: the fact that everything is low key. No one goes on adventures. Instead, they have are long, pointless discussions. Say I suggested that we go out for lunch and I suggest McDonald’s. Then you go on a a piddly discussion about McDonald’s processed food, how every meat must be made from the same injection molded meat-stuffs except with added artificial flavor, and then go off on how chicken patties and filet-o-fish are functionally the same. It may seem charming at first, but if every discussion was like that, it gets old, fast.

Guess what? That’s what passes for life in Tackleford.

Coinciding with an increase of impenetrable Britishisms, everyone in Bad Machinery goes off on pointless tangents as if pointless tangents were going out of style. It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy mumbling to himself about sports curses or some girl trying to figure out the things you find in Russia or two girls talking about something, something, something, GYMNASTICS, LEOTARDS. While this sort of thing is a vague approximation of witty dialogue, it far more closely resembles a long, rambling blog post where the blogger is clawing at the mouth for trivial things to comment on. (And believe me, as a blogger with mouth-clawing problems up the wazoo, I would know.)

You know, that’s fine: but, as I mentioned before, the characters were already indistinguishable in the first place. Having them all rattle off the same way does no service to differentiating the characters. Every single one of the kids is cast as a precocious Juno who wants to be ever so clever, but they only come off as little avatars for the author himself.

The story finally starts to get somewhere when a satellite crash lands on the field of Tackleford City FC. (I’m assuming this is the bad machinery of the title, but who knows?) This happens at a nexus of cross interests between our principal leads. The girls want the football club to halt construction on a new stadium, which will evict a hapless old lady. The boys (led by the only football fan of the bunch) want to rid the team of a curse that’s been plaguing the home team.

“Ooh! A curse!” the inner SGR fan squeals. “Finally, a casual touch of the supernatural that made Scary Go Round such a wicked delight!”

Not so fast, hombre.

While SGR had it’s share of strange visitors — like robot ambassadors, ex-girlfriends in the afterlife, zombies, and the like — odds and ends of the strange and eerie nature are very much downplayed here. Oh, yes, the heart does leap when a lumpy supernatural denizen bounds across the screen, but such frivolity must be excised for the sake of the new focus on mundane trivialities.

The six-month long story probably would have been over in two if not for periodic digressions like the boys stealing a bow tie or one of the girls losing her coat. I suppose, in theory, that these small larks are key to character development. It was nice to see Strawberry Blonde Girl feel genuine glee in getting her coat back, and it was funny to see The Boy — er, sorry, The Boy 2.0 — unwittingly become the object of every girls’ affections. I supposed I would have liked it if these forays could have tied into the main story somehow, but it sorta works, albeit in a rather clunky fashion.

I do have to give Mr. Allison credit where credit’s due: he juggles a buttload of storylines, some related to the main narrative and some not, yet, but the end of this first story arc, he does manage to ty everything together by the end. It isn’t as haphazard as Scary Go Round; there’s far more order and planning in Bad Machinery. Now, this is both good and bad. I very much liked the spontaneity of of SGR, and I don’t get much a sense the same wild energy will be found here. Yet, Bad Machinery is worth a re-read, since things have been planned ahead, and nothing you’ve seen before was a cheat. If SGR was a vaudeville show, Bad Machinery is more your murder-mystery.

Plus, there are some moments in Bad Machinery that made me smile. One of my favorites is seeing Ryan trying to hide from a student because he doesn’t want them finding out about his home life. He suggests that Amy pose as a fallen woman whom he was trying to introduce to Jesus. Ah, quite the wit, old chum. The other is watching the Russian FC owner lament his marriage to his attractive wife, lecturing the boys that they should marry a peasant woman, and concluding with a metaphor equating a women to zebras. (Hmmm… maybe I just like “women be like this” jokes?!?!)

The faults of Bad Machinery aren’t all that different from the faults that plagued the early run of Scary Go Round: the first arc was rather light on the weirdness and heavy on the interchangeable bland characters. Lest we forget, by the middle of that comic Allison had dumped most of the main cast in favor of newer, sexier models. Finding your footing is a hard thing to do. But, on the plus side, it’s a much easier webcomic for newcomers to jump aboard since you don’t really need to be saddled with all the baggage from previous stories.

I don’t know if Bad Machinery will go through the same overhaul. Allison seem to be quite fond writing stories about schoolkids. Yet the readers (and, I’m assuming, Allison himself) are also drawn to eccentric types. Amy, Dark Esther, The Boy, and above all Shelley rose up the ranks of Scary Go Round because, well, the readers liked them and their quirks. It may take a few more storylines before anyone in Bad Machinery rises up to that status… just like it may take a few more storylines before I feel compelled to check in on Bad Machinery again.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

About these ads

About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on April 2, 2010, in 3 Stars, adventure webcomic, comedy webcomic, slice-of-life webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. I agree that it could be better but for a first chapter it was decent. It was much better than the beginning of Scary Go Round, that was rather atrocious following the same mystery formula that solves itself without giving many clues or every evolving. I love the characters though and I think once John has some more familiarity it will be a lot more likeable.
    My favorite page though is still the brief discussion of the Velvet Underground.

    • I wrote this review a week ago. I have to say that the strips I missed out on really did show an improvement for the better, what with the crazy solution for the Tackleford stadium situation and some romance in the air for two of the characters. Plus, it did confirm that “Erin” was “Erin Winters” after all. I really do think Bad Machinery will eventually get good to where I’m tuning in page after page like I did for Scary Go Round … I just can’t say it’s there yet.

  2. I take the title “Bad Machinery” to refer to a Ken-Kesey/One-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoo’s-Nest-like theme, of the systems around us that support us but can chew us up if we fall in them.

    I think Allison’s changes address the dilemma comics currently and directly face, which is that the mildly curious don’t think comics have anything to say to them. It looks like he’s assembling an archive to be more attractive to outsiders. Also, pulling out of zoom-outs is another thing you learn in art school to let outsiders in. Of course insiders will spend more time to parse a panel close-up, and that’s a pay-off they will miss from that trick the artist plays to let people in.

    He’s expressed concern over a drop in traffic, but I think that might be as unavoidable as the need for mainstream US comics publishers to disappoint the collectors market in order to restore an interest by the general public for the medium.

  3. I’ll pass on judgement of Bad Machinery as I’ve yet to read enough of it (something which I am working to remedy ASAP) but I’m slightly worried about the mention of an “increase in Britishisms” as if that is a negative point.

    I think probably one of the most endearing features of the English language is its ability to mutate wherever it spreads which creates a plethora of dialects. England alone has so many that I’d need a book to note them down (Geordie and Cornish come to mind as..*sigh* yes, Cockney, you do realise Daphne from Frasier wasn’t from London, right? Oops. Tangent. Sorry.)

    Thus, when I read a comic which has local slang or uses a local dialect I find that a plus simply because it enlightens me about a different part of the world. Simply put, it is only impenetrable if you allow it to be.

    For example, I found Glaswegian slang to be impenetrable and hard to understand but after you watch Rab C Nesbitt you start to get a taste for the Glaswegian, sorry, Weegie way of talking and thus you enjoy it more as a result.

    Actually, my concern with Bad Machinery so far is that a lot of the dialogue seems forced and almost robotic. Its like they’re a bunch of robots talking like they’re all from an upper middle class family in the Home Counties in a Childrens drama usually shown at 4pm on Childrens television. The leotard page you mentioned is a perfect example.

    It just feels like the dialogue has been written by a robot that’s been programmed with too many Miss Marple detective novels. The words coming out of the mouths belong in the 1950s but the clothes they wear are fresh out of H&Ms. Thus, confusion abounds.

    It is good though despite that. I like it anyway and the creator is a nice person.

    • Wait a second, I passed judgement on Bad Machinery didn’t I?

      Bugger.

    • Re: the increase of Britishisms — fair enough. I suppose it does add variety if you are from that region. I suppose it was more of an observation from someone with a non-British ear. Colloquial accent is a tricky thing, and it’s very much a “you have to be there” sort of thing.

      Example: there have been many time when my wife and her siblings have gathered around a YouTube video of a Filipina speaking with what they think is an extremely strange accent, and I (who have spent my formative years in the states) sorta grumble, “I don’t get it. She sounds exactly like you guys when you speak English.” Which they then retort that it is not the case at all.

    • Are you joking? I’m actually from Yorkshire and he NAILED the dialect as it’s actually spoken. I’m not sure whereabouts in the UK you’re from, but upper middle class? Miss Marple? Seriously?

  4. Hah, yeah I had the same trouble when I went to France and there was one guy from Clermont in the North and Perpignan in the verrry deep South West of France. Both had what I would term in a non-PC way “frog accents” but the Perpignan man spoke much more deeply and slowly than the Clermont man which apparently is how they speak in such a wine making, agricultural, wild boar shooting, rugby playing land that is Southern France.

    Trying to convey an accent on paper is a very tricky thing and when it comes to British accents it can end up horribly. Freakangels by Warren Ellis is fantastic but Alice who is from Manchester sounds in my mind like Liam Gallagher from Oasis and I put that squarely down to Ellis finding it exceedingly hard to convey her Mancunian accent without her sounding like an extra out of Oliver.

    In the end its a matter of mixing up words. Example right, if it were like I were from Yorkshire unlike thou who have roots somewhere between America and the Far East abouts then you’d have a fair amount of grief understanding my lingo especially if thou were down pub wit’ me sharing a pint wit’ me whippet.

    That mouthful could either be a verbal garden of discovery or a minefield of woe. I guess this is like yeast extract paste: some love it, some hate it and nobody just ‘likes’ it :)

  5. “The words coming out of the mouths belong in the 1950s but the clothes they wear are fresh out of H&Ms. Thus, confusion abounds.”

    I love that about Bad Machinery. As a young person I read one or two of the Famous Five type books, not too many. I liked them, but was growing up to fast – also they were already ~40 years old by then. I love seeing those types of shenanigans playing themselves out with younger, hipper kids in the modern era.

    I think John shines when the supernatural is involved, but am willing to give him the luxury of two or three year storylines filled with “Britishisms” to make pay offs and character plausible and funny.

    Bring on the next storyline.

    • @HUKI365: I have to say, the more I read, the more the whole “Famous Five meets modernerity” thing is starting to grow on me. I’m still reading which is a result anyway :)

  6. I’ll admit to being a little confused by this review. First of all, you’re reviewing Bad Machinery, not Scary Go Round. If you’re going to come out and say that you can’t review the former without comparing it to the latter, then you’re obviously not willing to treat it as a work in it’s own right and probably shouldn’t be reviewing it.

    Secondly, some of your statements about BM don’t seem to bear any relation to the comic itself. You talk about the ‘underemphasis of the individual’ and indistinguishable characters, yet the in the very first strips, we are immediatly introduced to the main cast, and given clear indications of their differing character and backgrounds – Jack is quiet and thoughtful, Sonny is from a rather wealthy family and seems a little slow, Charlotte is precocious, if a little loud, etc. Even more confusing is this little gem:
    ‘The schoolgirls are incredibly fond of Amy, by the way, mainly because she’s living their dream life of being married to their teacher and also because she’s sexy and rockin’ some tattoos.’
    – which bears no relation to the story itself, unless being ‘incredibly fond’ of someone means meeting them once or twice. And I’m not quite sure how a comic can be completely ‘low key’ and yet involve russian spirits, curses and a sattelite crash.
    You can say I’m being pedantic if you like, but when you can’t even get the hair colour of one of the main characters right (especially when you have a picture of her embedded in the article) it gives the impression that you haven’t even read the comic.

    Thats not to say that none of your points are valid: I’d agree to a certain extent that Allison is sometimes guilty of rambling, or the non-sequiter punchline, but if your going to criticise an author for being tangental or overwriting, it would help if you didn’t spend the first four paragraphs your review by doing exactly the same thing.

    Like I said, strange review.

    • “I’ll admit to being a little confused by this review. First of all, you’re reviewing Bad Machinery, not Scary Go Round. If you’re going to come out and say that you can’t review the former without comparing it to the latter, then you’re obviously not willing to treat it as a work in it’s own right and probably shouldn’t be reviewing it.”

      On the other hand, I didn’t want to review Bad Machinery and not mention the comic that was instrumental in building quite a lot of the foundation. But, if you like, you can eliminate Scary Go Round references from this review and you’d probably get a pretty clear picture of what a Bad Machinery standalone review would look like. I image it would look less positive; a lot of what keeps me going with Bad Machinery is the goodwill built up by Scary Go Round. Without that, I don’t think I’d even give Bad Machinery a first look.

      “You can say I’m being pedantic if you like, but when you can’t even get the hair colour of one of the main characters right (especially when you have a picture of her embedded in the article) it gives the impression that you haven’t even read the comic.”

      Are you telling me she wasn’t strawberry blonde? I said that because her hair was darker from the one girl who was platinum blonde. I don’t think she’s a redhead, either… Allison seems to use a different shade of red for redheads. I mean… how would you describe the color of her hair?

      “…but if your going to criticise an author for being tangental or overwriting, it would help if you didn’t spend the first four paragraphs your review by doing exactly the same thing.”

      Blogging and webcomics are two different things, though. I think I made a point of that in the review. I’m not disputing that I’m rambling. However, a webcomic is a visual medium and typically has plot and story and characters and such. In the intro, you’ll notice that the rambling portions are not being spoken by two characters with word balloons coming out of their mouths, for example. It may sound trivial, but it is a fairly strong distinction.

      “Like I said, strange review.”

      So I’ve heard. Still, I love your handle, OnionBubs.

    • Like I said, strange review.

      No. It’s a normal run of the mill review. You’re just being religious about it.

      • Nah, I’m just offering some constructive critiscism – It’s not been keeping me up at nights if that’s what you mean William George!

        Anyways, to respond to a few of your points El Santo:
        ***
        ‘Are you telling me she wasn’t strawberry blonde? I said that because her hair was darker from the one girl who was platinum blonde. I don’t think she’s a redhead, either… Allison seems to use a different shade of red for redheads. I mean… how would you describe the color of her hair?’
        -It’s just blonde, isn’t it? Anyway, I’d probably just have mentioned Shauna’s name, would have been less confusing to the casual reader. I get that your comment in the review was more a throw-away sort of joke – you thought the characters were so flat that you’ve forgotten their names – but when a joke runs the risk of harming the reader’s comprehension then you should probably excise it. Plus, it makes it look like you haven’t even bothered to check your facts.
        ***
        ‘Blogging and webcomics are two different things, though. I think I made a point of that in the review. I’m not disputing that I’m rambling. However, a webcomic is a visual medium and typically has plot and story and characters and such. In the intro, you’ll notice that the rambling portions are not being spoken by two characters with word balloons coming out of their mouths, for example. It may sound trivial, but it is a fairly strong distinction.’
        -Yeah, I get that, but there are some universal rules that apply to all kinds of writing; comics, reviews, screenplays, whatever. One of these is ‘dont use 40 words when 4 will do’. Talking about Day’s of Our Lives for a few paragraphs made me scratch my head before the review proper had even started. Reviews need to be lean and well-paced in just the same way as comics do – if it takes too long to get to the meat of the piece, your not keeping the reader on-side.
        ***
        ‘I didn’t want to review Bad Machinery and not mention the comic that was instrumental in building quite a lot of the foundation. But, if you like, you can eliminate Scary Go Round references from this review and you’d probably get a pretty clear picture of what a Bad Machinery standalone review would look like. I image it would look less positive; a lot of what keeps me going with Bad Machinery is the goodwill built up by Scary Go Round.’
        -Sure, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t mention Scary Go Round at all – but it seems like you spent as much time talking about SGR as Bad Machinery. It’s cool if you don’t like BM, I don’t have any beef with that. But I would have preferred to see you review it on it’s own merits (or lack thereof, if you like). I guess I just get the impression that you don’t like BM because it’s not SGR – that you’re not giving it a fair and objective look. I know that might be presumptious, but that’s how the review reads to me.
        ***

        Sorry for the wall of text. I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything – I’ve been on your site a few times, and enjoyed plenty of your reviews. I’m sure you know a lot more about webcomics than I ever will. But criticism hinges on free debate, right? =)

        Cheers for the reply, and all the best.
        (as for my handle, what can I say? I’m a Homestar Runner fan)

        • Thanks for your input, OnionBubs. You do have several valid points about my review, and I appreciate them.

          Anyway, one more thing before I drop this:

          -It’s just blonde, isn’t it? Anyway, I’d probably just have mentioned Shauna’s name, would have been less confusing to the casual reader. I get that your comment in the review was more a throw-away sort of joke – you thought the characters were so flat that you’ve forgotten their names – but when a joke runs the risk of harming the reader’s comprehension then you should probably excise it. Plus, it makes it look like you haven’t even bothered to check your facts.

          I would have, but for a few things:
          * – The names are mentioned so infrequently that I really, truly did have a hard time remembering Shauna’s name. Perhaps my brain is as porous a colander, but for some reason it didn’t stick. And this was especially troubling, since, out of the six main character, she sort of struck me as the MAIN character. Like, if I were to remember anyone’s name, it should be hers. I thought I’d make mention of it. Snarky, sure … but I thought it was more of a lively way of saying, “I, for some reason, cannot remember the characters’ names.”

          * – For some reason, I didn’t notice the “Cast” link at the top of the page. I suppose that’s partially my fault. The way the links are currently arranged at the top of the page, T-Shirts, Books, & Art” immediately precedes it in big bold and red font. In a way, my eyes immediately glosses over it as if it were an ad.

          * – In my experience, very few people are going to remember a characters’ name from a review anyway. This why most movie reviews I’ve read hardly refer to a character from a movie by name. They refer to the character by their real name: Bruce Willis, Sam Worthington, Cameron Diaz, what have you. That’s partially because if you spend the entire time calling Cameron Diaz, say, “Norma Lewis” (from “The Box”), there’s no effect because you have absolutely no notion of why “Norma Lewis” is but you have a fairly well-formed preconceived notion of who “Cameron Diaz” is.

          That’s why, in a previous review, I refer to a characters as a guy who looks like Christopher Lee. Now, if I referred to him by his real name (Dr. Ambrosia), you’re not going to get any impression beyond perhaps that the guy eats the food of the gods, right? (Which he doesn’t.) But if I refer to him as the Christopher Lee-looking guy, an immediate mental image strike you.

          Now if I call Shauna by the name “strawberry blonde girl” (or simply “blonde girl” if you will), there’s a better chance some character trait will stick to you while skimming though the review. Better than Shauna, anyway, which will eventually reveal itself if, for some reason, you decide to take an interest in the comic and you manage to find the “Cast” page like I failed to do. In other words, the “strawberry blonde girl” appellation may be a more valuable identifier.

          I’d argue the same with “The Boy 2.0.” By just calling him “Jack,” there’s no impression. But folks who are highly familiar with SGR will know exactly what character to expect.

        • Incidentally, my next review is going to start off with a rather lengthy intro about “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” You might want to skip that. I’d say most of the time, the intros are, in fact, skippable: just some ridiculousness I like to throw in there to sorta prep you before the main event. (Sorta like a warm-up act.) The “Days of Our Lives” bit didn’t come off so well, I agree, but it was inspired by a thought about new beginnings — which did more directly relate to the topic at hand. The next one will have an even more tenuous link to the webcomic I’m reviewing. Just a warning.

  7. I never got round to reading Scary Go Round – it was one of those comics I always meant to read, but was put off by the size of its archive (and the more I hesitated, the longer it got). I still haven’t read it, but when Bad Machinery started, I took the opportunity to get in on the ground floor this time. I actually like this comic a lot; maybe it’s because there aren’t many other comics with children as the main characters, or maybe it’s because they’re just written so well. I think the dialogue sounds like how (British) kids really sound, and credit to the writer for getting it so right.

    True, the stories don’t move at a very fast pace, and the characters aren’t hugely memorable – but this comic just has a likeability to it that got me from the start and kept me reading. If Scary Go Round is as good as this, maybe I should go back and catch up on it after all…

  8. Cute but empty, was my impression. Vaguely humorous without being funny. Certainly innoffensive in every possible way, there’s a lot worse things you could sit down to with a cup of tea, but nothing that grabbed me at all except a general atmosphere of likability.

  9. Haha, when I saw you rated 2 stars lower than Scary-Go-Round I had to check it out since my rating woul be the opposite. I think your points though, are well made and a lot of it comes down to taste. I have never minded things moving along slowly and going off on tangents, personally. I think I perfer it. The dialog sometimes comes off Oscar Wilde-ish, perfectly interchangable bits of generic wittiness, buuut the kids sound like Jr. High kids to me for the most part, and it makes me laugh so there you go.

    I guess what I found ironic is your issue with the characters being indistinct. To me the characters in Scary-Go-Round were hard to tell apart and that aspect has been grately improved in Bad Machinery. In SGR there were, like, 2 or 3 guys who I could never tell apart. I know one was mayor and one invented things and one hooked up with Amy. Or maybe that was all the same guy? There were the two girls at the beginning and some chick who was a spy, but I could never remember who and I constantly got them confused. The only major characters I could tell apart were Amy, the red-head (was her name Shelly?), The Boy, and, um, The Boy’s gilfriend (I think her name was Ellen? Elina?). In Bad Machinery I never get the characters mixed up. They could use some building up to make them more complex, but they have distinct base personalities, as well as distinct looks.

    Anyway it is much later now and Bad Machinery has two more complete story arcs. What do you think of it now?

    • Hmmm… I haven’t had a chance to look at Bad Machinery again. I may have to now. You’re right, though: it is a matter of tastes and expectations. Scary-Go-Round and Bad Machinery are different enough animals that if you were a huge fan of one, you might not be a fan of the other.

      Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on the matter! It’s always highly appreciated to hear opinions from another point of view.

      • Oh jeez, re-reading what I wrote I sound like an idiot. Thank you for not pointing out how badly I screwed up basic grammer there.

        Anyways, I would recommend catching up on it. The 2nd case involves a lot more weirdness, and I loved the conclusion to the 3rd case. It may still not be quite to your tastes, but I think it has hit its stride now that the setting and characters have been established. It updates 5 days a week now as well, which I think helps with the slower pacing and smaller strips.

        If you do look at it again tell me what you think!

      • Tells me how different tastes can be… I loved SGR and Bad Machinery hooked me from the beginning. I’m just a sucker for comics like those. My mind kind of glossed over all differences between both comics.

  10. Hmm. ‘Impenetrable Britishisms.’ Perhaps the American English many comics are written in (and which may seem like a neutral default dialect to those who actually use it) comes across as ‘impenetrable’ to readers elsewhere in the world. PERHAPS this comic is not being aimed at a solely American audience and its dialogue is not being tailored to fit your comfort zone.

  1. Pingback: John Allison, UK Indie Comics, the lowdown « The Webcomic Overlook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: