Friday, January 24, 2014

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Team Spirit

British artist and writer John Allison started his web comic career earlier than most — back in 1998. Though his stories and characters have changed, he sets his serialized comics in the fictional English town of Tackleford. He currently has been working on a comic series called Bad Machinery, which follows six mystery-solving Tackleford teens, all students at Griswalds Grammar School.

If patiently reading a comic strip panel by panel on an electronic screen isn't for you, fear not; last year Allison released the first print installment of Bad Machinery, called The Case of the Team Spirit (YP FIC ALLISON). (Volume 2, The Case of the Good Boy, is due out later this spring.) My colleague Luke, our young adult librarian, reviewed Team Spirit back in July of last year and I have to say I really agree with his take on the overseas import.

It's hard enough that classmates Shauna, Charlotte, Mildred, Jack, Linton and Sunny are having to navigate both a new school year and a new school. Before they know it, they're all embroiled in the same extracurricular mess. The girls resolve to help an old woman whose house is threatened because it sits on the site of a planned football (as in English football, i.e., soccer) stadium. The boys, on the other hand, are investigating why the local football team seems to be truly cursed with bad luck.

This is a fun, fast read that rocks along with humor that's both silly and snarky. The wonderfully drawn illustrations (and accompanying sound effects) tell half the story; they crackle with energy. Though the style is Allison's own, the comic has a manga-like feel to it because of its mix of heartfelt drama and sly wit. But the teens' sarcastic (and entirely believable) repartee is definitely the star of the show.

Allison does a great job of conveying the relationships between his main characters, the way they both support and snipe at each other. In addition, he populates Tackleford with a colorful cast beyond the story's six young protagonists, and gives each character a distinct personality, even the minor ones like the local bully and the resident middleman ("Johnny Swaps").

Teens and adults alike will enjoy the adventures of these young sleuths. They'll have you chuckling aloud and rooting for them as they attempt to right wrongs and and, oh yeah, suss out the supernatural while mollifying their teachers and family. We can all relate, can't we?

1 comment:

John A said...

Thanks for a very kind review, Vivi!