Supernatural Mysteries Meet Teenage Awkwardness in “Bad Machinery”
Following a decades-long legacy of webcomic shenanigans is the witty and imaginative Bad Machinery, the latest ongoing project by comics veteran John Allison, set in his fictional West Yorkshire town of Tackleford. Those familiar with Allison’s previous work will know Tackleford as a sleepy hub of supernatural mischief. The town was the setting of his older titles, Bobbins and Scary Go Round, which each followed the escapades of several teens and twenty-somethings as they right wrongs, fell in and out of love, ran for city office, and on occasion summoned a demon or two.
Bad Machinery picks up three years after the end of Scary Go Round, but rest assured, you need not have read any of the prequels in order to keep up with the plot–I certainly hadn’t! The story follows two sets of mystery solving pre-teens (three boys and three girls) as they embark upon their first year at Griswald’s Grammar School, dealing with all the tension, awkwardness, and frustrations that puberty has to offer while also managing to save their little town from any number of calamities.
The cases in Bad Machinery are universally entertaining, combining magic, mythology, suspense, and humor while also focusing on real and relatable issues–first crushes, school rivalries, losing a parent, or feeling ignored by your friends. The kids of Bad Machinery come from many walks of life, each with their own unique problems and ways of tackling those problems, which makes them a compelling cast and a delight to read.
I feel it’s safe to say that Bad Machinery is the culmination of John Allison’s development as an artist and storyteller, and it definitely exemplifies him in the height of his craft. His style is fun and infectious, bursting with whimsy and expression. A good all-ages read and a treat for anyone who enjoys mysteries and dry British humor, the comic is currently ongoing with eight completed cases. You can also buy the first two volumes, “The Case of The Team Spirit” and “The Case of the Good Boy,” on Topatoco or Amazon. As for reading it online, I suggest you start at the beginning!