I come not to bury John Allison’s Bad Machinery, but to praise it. For nigh on two decades now, Allison has been telling stories of the weirdest corner of Britain; stories of love and death, birth and re-birth, hellmouths and other hellorifices. Characters have been zombified, erased from existence to rule over nether-realms, and then later come back and ’round for tea like it was nothing. Ryan, Amy, and Shelley have been the major characters for the entire duration, but for the past seven and a half years a clique of mystery girls and boys have held center stage.
Shauna has ruined her eyes reading. Lottie has grown into a take-charge young woman, and the most dangerous conspiracy-buster in the UK (under-18). Mildred has had mad pashes and flirtations with maturity. Sonny floats through life in an optimistically abiding manner, accommodating the love of all from selkie girls to random young lads. Jack was very nearly King of the Mods and somehow still hasn’t been humiliated by his older sister for the last time. Linton is the rock upon which mysteries get solved (even though Lottie and Shauna are loads better at it), but is lately reduced to impotent frustration by rampaging hormones.
Oh, yeah, and they totally changed time once, saving their favorite couple’s marriage and also gender-swapping the Beetles (and possibly The Whom¹) but nobody remembers what it was like when Paula, Judy, Georgina, and Ringo (not to mention Pam Dylan) were dudes. That’s what you get when you mess with the time stream.
Today, after adventures that have seen them grow — from 10-or-so to driving age, from secret crush hand-holding to nearly adult — their stories end. At least, in the current form; Tackleford is still going to be there, the characters are still going to be around, but the story model of six-month-long mysteries built around the core six (plus Little Claire, Colm, Blossom Cooper, assorted family members, teachers, adults, et al) is going by the wayside.
Then again, Allison has retired the characters before, flirting with returns to Bobbins (old days), Bobbins (current times), side stories, comic books that never were, and comic books that totally are. He may yet get the Mystery Six (plus Little Claire, Colm, Blossom Cooper, assorted family members, teachers, adults, et al) back together; weird pairings have happened in the past (Lottie plus Shelley; Shauna plus Amy; Sonny’s dad plus The Boy; Little Claire plus Desmond Goddamned Fishman), after all.
Allison’s numerous side stories and digressions have spun back around to the main narrative, and six young mystery solvers have become a little less young, a lot smarter, and are nearly as old as Esther, The Boy, Sarah, Big Lindsey, and Carrot were when Scary Go Round wrapped up their turn in the spotlight. What with Amy and Shelley (and a while back, Tim) all having kids of their own, it’s just a matter of time before the next generation (and goodness, who is that tiny Peppermint Patty lookalike behind Little Claire in today’s strip?) of weirdness-endurers (or perhaps weirdness-enablers) takes their turn in the spotlight.
It’s goodbye for Lottie + Shauna (maybe my favorite Allisonian pairing, even more than Esther + the Boy), but Tackleford endures. See you back there Monday.
Spam of the day:
Last chance to register for The Who’s Who in Building & Construction SHOWCASE Powered by The Blue Book Building & Construction Network!
There is a guy out there, somewhere around Scranton most likely, that thinks my email is his email. I get bid proposals for electrical jobs that are clearly meant for him, and I’ve wondered how many jobs he’s lost out on because he doesn’t know my email isn’t his eamil. But now I’m getting his spam and my sympathy is gone. Sucks to be you, guy who thinks my email is his email!
¹ Which is totally not garbage music, Jack. Some King of the Mods you’d make.