Franchise: Bobbinsverse

John Allison's mind is a world where statements like this are common and often justified.

A shared page for the various webcomics written by John Allison and set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Tackleford.

These include three major runs of comics, and a number of one-offs. These differ mainly in tone and chronology, and characters from one series will often pop up in others, sometimes as major or at least recurring characters. The terminology for describing the various strips can get confusing because of all the shifts, name changes, and changes-of-mind on the author's part regarding the direction they are going. Bobbins is both the original strip and various later revivals, some of them retconned into the early strips and some taking place much later. Scary Go Round is both the successor strip to Bobbins and the title of the current website where various other comics in the Bobbinsverse are published. Bad Machinery is the successor strip to that and is no longer publishing new stories, but its characters continue to appear in other strips, and books collecting the earlier stories are still coming out, with some new material.

Apart from the main comics, most of these are now only available in print from the shop. However, Allison has a tendency to put online archives up, pull them down, shift around their urls, and otherwise manipulate them, so they may still be online somewhere even when old links to them have linkrotted. The book versions often have additional pages that never appeared online, however.

There is a wiki devoted to this fictional universe at Wikia.

Main comics include:

Shorter stories and one-offs include:
  • Giant Days, a spin-off of SGR about the university life of Esther de Groot. Three issues of the original series are available in print, and another series, written by John Allison and illustrated by Lissa Treiman, is being published by Boom! Press in its Boom! Box imprint. There has also been an online archive here, but it's come and gone a few times and is not available at present.
  • Murder She Writes, in which Shelley Winters takes Charlotte Grote on as a personal assistant when she attends a writers' retreat, and they find themselves caught up in a murder mystery. (John Allison had announced that a new Murder She Writes story will appear online in late 2014, in between Expecting To Fly and a new Bad Machinery story, but these plans changed and no such story was released.)
  • THAT, in which Shelley goes to America and weirdness follows.
  • Expecting to Fly, a prequel to Bobbins featuring Shelley, Ryan, and Tim as teenagers in 1996.
  • Heavy Metal Hearts and Flowers, a re-telling of a storyline from Bobbins (with lots of details changed) in which Tim builds a Robot Girl and ends up fighting a big red robot over her. Released as a paper book in 2005 (now out-of-print) and an e-book in 2011.
  • A number of one-shot mini-comics showing up everywhere from John Allison's various websites, blogs, and social media feeds to paper sheets tossed in with orders for his books; these may or may not be "canon", but sometimes reveal relevant details such as how Erin returned from Hell (which can be found here and here).
  • Newer stories in the Scary Go Round website, such as Space Is The Place, feature characters from the earlier main strips, but are not labeled as being part of any of them.

John Allison has said that the chronological order of the various strips and books is: Bobbins, Scary Go Round, Giant Days, Bad Machinery Case 1, 2, 3, 4, Murder She Writes, Bad Machinery Case 5, THAT, Bad Machinery Case 6, 7, New Bobbins. He then announced in November 2014 that Bad Machinery would end wit the just-completed Case 7, and that he would be reverting to the "Scary Go Round" title for a while, so the new Scary Go Round strips would logically belong on the end of that sequence. However, some strips continued to appear under the "Bobbins" title in that period...

Tropes used in Scary Go Round or Bad Machinery should go on their respective pages. Tropes for other works are listed below.

Bobbins Classic

Bobbins Now

  • Best Friends In Law: Ryan and Tim, via Ryan's sister Riley.
  • Blatant Lies:
    Tim: You know, everything they tell you about babies is scare stories. Scout just slept all the time, all night long.
    Ryan: Yeah?
    Tim: Never got hungry in the least. Rarely cried, if ever.
    Ryan: That's a relief.
    Tim: Almost from the start, she'd change her own nappy. She couldn't reach the bin, so she'd just double-bag 'em and leave them by the back door.
    Ryan: I see, I see. This is a cruel joke.
    Tim: Within a couple of months she could make rudimentary sandwiches. Not deli-quality, but serviceable.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Amy was this when Len gave her a job at City Limit. (Which retroactively means that she was this during at least the earlier parts of the classic Bobbins.)
  • Chubby Chaser: Erin apparently prefers her men on the portly side. When Eustace is worried she will be uninterested in him because he's put on some pounds since high school, she tells him, "I like a gentleman of heft. Beef and beer lend a man weight."
  • Creator Breakdown: invoked Shelley writes books for children and may be letting her recent, brief affair with Tim affect her work.
    Barry: It's called "Tibkins Makes an Awful Mistake". The change in tone is striking.
    Shelley: Basic Tibkins story. Under-fives gonna love it. Print it. Send it to the printer.
    Barry: "I love you," said Tibkins to the vacuum cleaner. "But we can never see each other EVER AGAIN."
    Shelley: Make sure the last page is just printed completely black.
  • Death Is Cheap: Lampshaded here by the (well, a) Grim Reaper, in a speech to Erin with regard to her and the notoriously return-prone Shelley:
    The Reaper: You! You and your SISTER ... with your LAISSEZ FAIRE attitude to the afterlife.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Alas, poor Eustace.
  • Hope Spot: Tim appears to convince Eustace to not mess around with a literally Satanic computer the latter has cobbled together, in an attempt to get in touch with the demon Erin. Then Eustace goes and turns on the thing anyway, and, well, see directly above.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Lampshaded and denied by the (well, a) Grim Reaper here. As he says, "Clichť party."
  • The Matchmaker: After Eustace (re)meeting Erin and leaving a seemingly disastrous first impression, Shelley and Tim use a ruse in order to set up a second meeting between the two. And this time it goes quite well for Eustace. (Too bad though that he neglects to maintain contact with her afterwards...)
  • Mighty Lumberjack: The trope is invoked, in somewhat ironic form, here, by Amy, to describe Tim after he's gone to live in the woods. It turns out that Shelley, always a woman with a healthy appetite for the macho, finds the image quite appealing.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Ryan.
  • The One That Got Away: Esther, for Eustace
  • Too Dumb to Live: Both Rich Tweedy and Eustace end up qualifying as examples of this. Literally.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Amy is pregnant at Christmas, Shelley describes the child as "Our own personal Jesus! Someone to hear our prayers. Someone who cares."
  • Wham Episode: John Allison fills the "Into the Woods" plot-arc with several of these: Shelley and Erin personally meet again for the first time after Erin has vanished into Hell, Rich Tweedy reappears, many years after he has been fired from his job at City Limit, allegedly "so hard that he ceased to exist". And then he REALLY ceases to exist. Followed up with Erin giving up her humanity to save Eustace, Shelly and Tim cohabiting and Eustace getting himself killed anyway.

Giant Days

A spin-off of SGR that follows Esther de Groot to university, and provides examples of:

Murder, She Writes

A Closed Circle murder mystery featuring Lottie from Bad Machinery and Shelley from Scary Go Round. Shelley, now a children's author, is invited to a party in her agent's remote Welsh mansion, and brings along Lottie as her intern. When one of the author is murdered and several of the guests have motives, our heroines investigate.


Another Shelley stand-alone adventure. This time she's in America (sans intern) doing a book-tour. She arrives in Heaven, Arizona just in time for the town Lemon Festival, and an attack by a flock of giant killer moths.

Expecting To Fly

Taking place in 1996, when Shelley, Ryan and Tim still were teenagers and attended school.

  • Call Forward: Fans of Scary Go Round know of course that Erin Winters will end up spending some time in hell. This story is alluding to this whenever Erin appears.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Surprisingly, Tim turns out to to have been one in his teenage years.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The first conversation Tim and Ryan have in this story is about some Kurosawa movies Tim has been taping for Ryan. At the end of the story, Ryan decides to act after the samurai ethics conveyed in this movies, and takes all the blame in order to protect Tim from any negative consequences the accident with his contraption might have caused for him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: This story reveals that the generally rather cheery Cloudcuckoolander Shelley Winters had to cope with the suicide of her best friend during her teen years.
  • Eyepatch of Power: We learn why Mr. Knott is wearing one in Bad Machinery.
  • Important Haircut: Starting out with rather long hair, at the end of the story (and the beginning of his life after leaving school) Ryan gets a hair cut and now looks much more like he does as an adult in Scary Go Round.
  • Prequel: To Bobbins, Scary Go Round, and via Mr. Knott also to Bad Machinery.
  • The Matchmaker: Mr. Knott encourages Ryan to befriend Shelley, and in the end it turns out that he had the same conversation with Shelley about Ryan. It is unclear though if his insistence about abstaining from behavior that "might inspire a nocturnal manipulation" was sincere or an attempt at Reverse Psychology.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Tim builds one in order to teach Ryan physics. An unplanned side-effect though is that it pokes out one of Mr. Knott's eyes.
  • The '90s: Playing Tetris on her Game Boy is one of Shelley's favorite leisure activities, and Ryan is considering Doom to be the peak of computer game realism.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Shelley's speech to Ryan's father is rather short, but turns out to be quite effective:
    Shelley: I don't know how one of the kindest people I have ever met came out of human garbage like you.
  • The Tetris Effect: In a conversation, Ryan and Shelley are using Tetris as a metaphor for their lives.


"Erin Winters and the Bone Throne (of Bones)" and "Erin Winters and the Great Fiery Elevator":

Alternative Title(s):

Expecting To Fly, Bobbins, Giant Days