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:
- Bobbins (view archive here)
- Bobbins NOW, following the grown-up exploits of these characters synchronously with Bad Machinery (begins here, continues from here)
- Scary Go Round (view archive here)
- Bad Machinery (view archive here)
- 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.
- Deus ex Machina: Used in a tongue-in-cheek way (more than once!) when a plotline full of dangling loose ends was abruptly terminated by '80s action star Mr. T. making a sudden inexplicable appearance and simply declaring everything to be resolved. This might also qualify as a Celebrity Star or Special Guest.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Internally, as well as compared to the later works of John Allison. The constant Art Evolution takes a big part in this, of course. Other examples are the instances of blatant Fourth Wall Breaking, or the characterization of Shelley, who's legendary quirkiness only emerged as time went by.
- Robot Girl: Unit Daisy (not to be confused with Daisy Wooton from Giant Days), built by Tim as girlfriend for a lovelorn Rich. (But things don't go as planned, and Hilarity Ensues.) Unit Daisy's Story Arc was later retold in Heavy Metal Hearts and Flowers.
- 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.
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: 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 DaysA spin-off of SGR that follows Esther de Groot to university, and provides examples of:
- Accidental Pervert: Ed Gemmell "And you're cupping something that doesn't belong to you."
- Alpha Bitch: The Girl Posse who drag Esther off to the uni bar. She doesn't exactly take to them.
- Answer Cut: Susan is not happy that someone woke her up "playing Enya at 6:45. ENYA." Daisy says nothing...standing in front of her Enya poster.
- Awesome McCoolname: Susan Ptolemy?
- Brutal Honesty:Susan: Permission to be frank?
Ed: S- sure...
Susan: If you ever want to dip your wick at university, don't chase pretty girls with boyfriends. You PLUM.
Ed: That was franker than I expected.
- Cowboy Cop/Private Detective: Susan Ptolemy, apparently. It seems she's a cross between Nancy Drew and Philip Marlowe:Alpha Bitch #1: Susan Ptolemy, 19, "a dangerous loose cannon who plays outside the rules."
Alpha Bitch #2: Bleugh, is that from her Facebook?
Alpha Bitch #3: No, it's a quote from the Chief Inspector of Northamptonshire Constabulary.
Alpha Bitch #2: "'...but, she gets the job done', he added reluctantly."
- Cut the Juice: Esther pulls the plug on Steve's band so she can have a private (and angry) word with him.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud??: Daisy realises she did, but she didn't mean to.
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm: Daisy.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: Esther in this strip, presumably in order not to be as sloshed as the other girls.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Entrusted to retrieve a bag from "the secret world of women" - Esther's room - Ed struggles to keep body and mind together amid Esther's carelessly discarded clothes:Ed: Oh Christ. Everything is so SCANTY. Can't concentrate... Bag, Ed. UNDER BED. FIGHT THIS.
- Establishing Character Moment: "Hi, hi, Susan Ptolemy. And I've not slept IN A WEEK."
- Fanservice: (Of the non-sexy kind.) Invoked, at least, when this cover describes Giant Days as "The return of Esther that you very politely requested."
- Evil Gloating/Genre Savvy: "We've got about twenty seconds before they come out of exposition mode!"
- Flat "What.":Daisy: FACE THE AWESOME POWER OF YOGIC FLYING
- Gilligan Cut: Daisy thinks having a big night out is "a lovely idea". Cut to them sitting in a dark dive bar with Esther angrily demanding another round, and Daisy saying "this was a TERRIBLE idea".
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Effing jeff(er)" is used a couple of times, plus:Susan: Turn this effing ess the FLIP down!
- Hešvy MŽtal ‹mlaut: Everything associated with Black Metal Society.
- The Ingenue: Daisy, home-schooled in a small village and ignorant of the ways of the world.
- Lipstick and Load Montage: FIF! BLUST! ZIIIIIP! "One hour, thirty one minutes! A new record!"
- Private Eye Monologue: Susan's internal narration.
- Punched Across the Room: BIFF! KICK! BOPP!
- Raging Stiffie: Discussed; one of the reasons given by Susan for suspecting that Ed has a crush on Esther is "low slung bag to conceal ardour?"
- Rule of Cool: Esther's gloves fall right onto her hands. This makes sense in the comic's world.
- Serious Business: "Join the head girls' guild or DIE, Esther!"
- Shout-Out: "Esther de Groot: ... Wouldn't join a club that would have her as a member."
- The Social Darwinist:Anna: Head girls are a special breed! Naturally selected over seven years along strict Darwinian lines!
Nita: DESTINED TO RULE!
- Spin-Off: What Dark Esther from SGR did when she went to university.
- A Touch of Class, Ethnicity and Religion: The Girl Posse that Esther meets assume that since she's not so privileged, and northern to boot, her boyfriend must have a load of tattoos, piercings and a drug habit.
- Wham Line: The best kind.Alpha Bitch #1: You see, to be head girl of a prestigious English school...you have to have mastered a fighting style.
Anna Trevellian: Team GB Captain, Taekwando
Murder, She WritesA 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.
- All Just a Dream: Shelley believes so when she wakes up, but is quickly disabused of the idea.
- Angst? What Angst?: Despite Shelley's fears, 12-year-old Lottie takes the bloody murder scene in her stride and immediately starts looking for the killer. She explains with a diagram that her "extreme love of mysteries" protects her "delicate lady-brain" from horror.Shelley: This isn't normal for a girl your age. I'm going to freak out for both of us.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In fact, she claims her extreme love of mysteries protects her delicate lady-brain from "deth", "horror", "blood" and "accidental willy sighting".
- The Big Board
- Cell Phones Are Useless: Bad mobile phone reception because of the storm and the mansion's remoteness prevents anyone calling the police. Lottie and Shelley manage to call them after solving the mystery, surprising everyone by finding a landline - hidden in a cupboard because no-one uses it any more.
- I Have to Iron My Dog: Derek attempting to get out of a long rant.
- J'accuse!: Emitted by Lottie, like Spidey-sense. She says it out loud once the truth is out.
- One-Liner: Judy facing down the competition.Shelley: Make a note, Charlotte. That was a zinger of the old school.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Played straight as a Scenery Censor; however, evidently fails in-universe as Lottie later mentions her "accidental willy sighting"
- Pop Culture Pun Episode Title: The title refers to Murder, She Wrote, of course.
- Right Through the Wall:Lottie: What do you think they were doing? Moving furniture?
Shelley: Um, yes. Feng shui is very important.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The "cover" splash panel originally described Murder, She Writes as "A Shelley Winters story", but Shelley appears to have passed out of the Competence Zone, and mostly takes a back seat to Lottie's investigating.
- Start to Corpse: the "corpse clock" is lampshaded in The Rant.
- Summation Gathering: Like in any self-respecting Closed Circle murder mystery.
THAT *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.
- The Alleged Car: Shelly bought it off Craigslist for her tour.
- Attack of the Town Festival
- Big Black Out
- Big Creepy-Crawlies
- Bilingual Bonus / Foreshadowing / Meaningful Name: "Mariposa" is Spanish for "Butterfly".
- Bratty Half-Pint: Mariposa.
- British Accents: Shelley is admiringly told hers sounds sophisticated, right after she goes into one of her trademarked streams of babble.
- Cassandra Truth / Ignored Expert: Though see Twist Ending below.
- Eagle Land: Shelley attempts a Rousing Speech based very literally on this. See the next entry for how well it works.
- Guns Are Worthless: A single juvenile moth is dispatched with shotguns, but other than that.. yeah.
- Kill It with Fire: Or rather, A Large Pile of Fireworks.
- Macabre Moth Motif: Giant vampire moths.
- Parent with New Paramour: Mariposa is violently opposed to this idea.
- Shout-Out: The title and general theme are clearly homages to the classic '50's monster-movie Them!. Plus, as noted, every Attack of the Town Festival movie ever made.
- Terror At Make Out Point
- Title Drop: See Shout Out above.
- Twist Ending: It turns out that Everybody Lives, although rather the worse for wear in some cases and Saul is a Mad Scientist who was responsible for the attack in the first place. Also a case of The Bad Guy Wins, as Saul is elected the new mayor.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Shelley finds a large supply of mothballs, which allow the humans time to set up the Kill It With Fire trap.
Expecting To FlyTaking 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.
- Some of John Allison's end-of-the-year music reviews have been penned in-universe by Shelley. It turns out that she already was compiling personal music hit lists when she was still in school.
- 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 Nineties: 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":
- Attack Backfire: Erin tricks the demon Xaffej into "scorning" her, which he does, forgetting that "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" — said fury manifesting as fire breath.
- Briar Patching: "I bet you couldn't even... scorn me."
- Hellevator: You can ride it straight back to Earth, if you can get past Xaffej the Indefatigable.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: How did Erin get out? She took the place over and ruled for three years before getting bored with power.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Robot Hitler is King of Hell.