Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Allison Wonderland

Many of you know I am a fan of John Allison's webcomic Scary Go Round, though I have been unable to convince many others of its charms. Something else I enjoy about John Allison is his gift for droll self-deprecation. He can be mercilessly negative about himself without making you feel like it's tiresome whining (or, since he's British, "whinging"). This comes across in his blog, but it's also on display in a pair of recent interviews, both of which have very amusing moments.

I like how his answers are implicitly mocking the interviewer here:

Will: First off, tell us about Scary Go Round. What’s it all about?

John Allison: Aren’t you meant to write two paragraphs of purple prose that answer this question before I come into the room? Scary Go Round is a series of stories about a group of characters. It’s a bit like the news in that way, except that the news is factual but Scary Go Round is made up. People have adventures, which sometimes end in an ambiguous way, leading to further stories at a later point. The characters talk to each other, there’s some dialogue, I put the words in balloons so they don’t get all jumbled up with the pictures. I try to keep things light and fun, but occasionally there’s a swear word or what the British Board of Film Certification might term “mild peril”. I’ve not answered your question very well, have I?

Will: You go through characters fairly frequently, bumping them off, sending them to Wales or some such other terrible fate. Do you find it easy to decide who gets the chop and when, or is there some sort of system in place that dictates the lifespan of a character?

John Allison: Every character has a set number of appearances before I get rid of them, it’s the same for every character. And I add 1 to that number every time there is a message board post about that character, and 5 every time I get an email about them, and 10 every time I get a fan art picture of them. My mum keeps count, she’s retired now so she has lots of time... So I have a big chart on the wall with a picture of the character and their current score, and I eke out their appearances until the number runs down to one. I often have to get rid of characters I really like because they ran out of appearances. It’s awkward working to a system like this but you have to have structure, even in art.

Will: Tom Siddel of Gunnerkrigg Court decree that you must choose one person you know by name to be put to death. What did they ever do to you?

John Allison: This is a hard one. I guess I’d kill Tom Siddel of Gunnerkrigg Court, who brought it on himself. How do you like that, Tom? You didn’t expect that, did you? You thought you were so clever, and now someone is coming round to your house to kill you.

This one is equally insulting to the questioner, but also makes an important point.

Who do you think would win in a fight and why - Zombie, Pirate, or Ninja?

ALLISON: Given the desperate exhaustion of those three pop-cultural tropes, I can only imagine that a three-way fight between them would end with all three flat on their backs, struggling to lift a flaccid limb in anger.

The fact that Allison is willing to go there despite having just wrapped up a pirate-related story arc (and being no stranger to zombie stories either), I think his answer can be considered evidence of his self-deprecation as well.

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