on 6 May 2014
John Allison has been writing comics about growing up for years now, and a lot of his readers have grown up reading them.
He has a knack for nostalgic character driven humour (if that's a thing) and a gift for writing story arcs that will keep readers enthralled to the very end - and then have them coming back for more.
Buy this, you wont be disappointed.
on 6 May 2014
Easily the most inventive genre-bending series around at the moment.
John Allison has outdone himself with this sumptuous volume, adding and revising artwork for the print edition.
I would recommed this book for everyone who has ever been to school, from reminiscing adults to younger people- this is guaranteed to drag you away from your smartphone while you enoy its depths.
Oh... and keep an eye out for aliens.
on 6 May 2014
I've read just about every comic John Allison has put online, from the Bobbins years, through the long and glorious run of Scary Go Round through to the present day. I think Bad Machinery is the finest work of the finest of webcomic artists. By retaining the long-established world of Tackleford, West Yorkshire, while shifting the emphasis away from the travails of twenty-something slackers and towards the more innocent and timeless world of secondary school, Allison has reinvigorated his work without sacrificing its essence.
This particular story, "The Case of the Good Boy" is a fine yarn. The characters and setting having been well established by the first volume, this second case allows Allison to develop the relationships between the teenage sleuths. Allison is the master of consistently providing lashings of humour in every strip without at all sacrificing the demands of the narrative. I would highly recommend The Case of the Good Boy to just about anyone.
on 6 May 2014
I followed these when they were online only, and I loved them enough to get the book. I will keep getting the books.
The books are very special. They have extra content and come in a glorious quality finish that made my day. "What is this large package I have received?", I wondered. Then I opened it, and thanked myself for buying myself such a wonderful gift.
It made me smile all day. Then I read it and it made my smile last for 1½ days more. Then my father picked them up and thought they were great too.
on 6 May 2014
Bad Machinery may be one of my favorite comics currently being made in the UK. John Allison writes this as a one-a-day webcomic, which in some cases can make the flow of the comic a little staccato. John however manages to make this hold together wonderfully, telling a story with characters that are relatable and funny.
In The Case of the Good Boy (as with all the Bad Machinery stories) there's mysteries, a magic pencil, mild peril and the crippling embarrassment of being young and at school. If you've never read any of John Allison's work before, now is a perfect time to start with this entertaining and heartfelt, oddly English collection.
on 8 May 2014
John Allison's cartoons are outstanding - original, well-observed, well-drawn, and with a the sort of humour that is both subtle and laugh-out-loud (hoe does he DO that?).
I would recommend them to anyone, and the joy of book form is that you can sit at home, reading, eating cake, and with tea coming down your nose as you snort uncontrollably at EVERY SINGLE PANEL, and no-one can see you dripping beverages onto your tea-short via your nostrils.
It doesn't get any better than this
This book is the second collection of strips from John Allison's web comic "Bad Machinery", which is itself a spinoff from his earlier online strip "Scary Go Round". The premise is that two groups of high schoolers, one group of three girls, and one group of three boys, get together to solve mysteries that have a vaguely supernatural flavor. The action is set in a medium sized town somewhere in England. This book covers one complete mystery, but there are loads of unrelated sub plots and threads, many of which are as much fun as the mystery.
There are a lot of good reasons for the strip's popularity. While the book follows just one mystery, the collection really reflects multiple story lines. First, of course, is the mystery that arcs through the whole book. (Here, toddlers are disappearing, although as DCI Carver notes, "There are thousands of children...but only nine have vanished....We urge people not to become hysterical if they can possibly avoid it."). Next, though, the series is seasoned by "one off" jokes and bits that only take a strip or two or three to set up a laugh. Finally, there are issues, characters and relationships that are developed in this series but that will continue to appear and develop in later books as well. Each kid has family issues and school issues and personal issues that pop up from time to time. This adds a lot of depth and interest to the whole undertaking, and reminds me very strongly of "Doonesbury", which followed a very similar pattern.
Also in the style of "Doonesbury", Allison has a real command of "minimalist" or succinct humor. You only get a few panels per strip, and only so many words. You have to set up a situation, work it, and then deliver a payoff with just a few drawings and a few well chosen words. Some of the best laughs are deadpan throwaway lines. That is just brutally difficult to do, (think of how many bad imitators of artist/humorist Gary Larson's "Far Side" are out there), and Allison pulls it off brilliantly.
Plus, each of the six teens, and almost all of the secondary characters, (parents, teachers), are individually realized and engaging. Within a few pages this is not a comic book, but as compelling as any YA novel. Added to that is the fact that the dialogue is fast, sharp, and witty, and yet generous. It is not snarky or mean spirited, and is ultimately good-natured, if a bit edgy. As a result you end up liking these people as much as they like each other and sympathizing with their various predicaments and foibles. (Again, echoes of "Doonesbury".)
So, a light authorial touch, insight, humor, and engaging characters. Just keep these collection volumes coming.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to the author or the publisher of this book.
on 17 June 2014
I've been reading John's "Bad Machinery" webcomic for a few years now. It's high-grade stuff. One strip was all it took to get me hooked. Now the latest technology allows me to enjoy reading it without the need for electricity. How cool is that?
Mr Allison has a fine ear for dialogue. His writing manages to be amusing and yet it's not afraid to become surprisingly dark when the need arises; his drawing style is fluid and light and so effortlessly self-assured that I'm continuously awestruck, and his characters - Charlotte, Shauna, Mildred, Jack, Linton and Sonny - have become firm favourites of mine. While this adventure includes a bunch of young people with a clever dog and the action involves a visit to a fairground, this isn't Scooby Doo and the solution *isn't* always that it was old Mr Simpkins, the caretaker, who did it. In the Bad Machinery universe, things that go bump in the night sometimes turn out to REALLY BE things that go bump in the night...
This is a self-contained adventure weaving together a number of paranormal phenomena (from magic pencils to strange things lurking in the undergrowth) which our plucky pals must unravel whilst dealing with more pressing issues such as bullying, friendship, video games and having to babysit annoying younger siblings. It's all delivered with bucketloads of aplomb. And it's presented in large format on fine, glossy paper rendered in glorious colour that really shows off the artwork to best effect.
Oh - and this adventure is set after "The Case of the Team Spirit" (which, if you haven't read, you should also buy). They both deserve a place in your graphics novel collection.
on 6 May 2014
I am constantly astonished at Allison's spot on uses of different voices and accents, that lend such a real tone to the work. For a story with some really quite supernatural elements, I find myself treating the stories as quite realistic mysteries due to the realism of his characters.
Finally, as much as I dislike the cliche, this comic can definitely been viewed as suitable for all ages. The stories are good fun, the characters make you smile, and I would recommend this book to anyone - experienced or new - interested in comics or stories.