[Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a staggered out series of some of my favorite webcomics creator interviews that previously ran on WizardUniverse.com and were a part of the site’s archives that are no longer hosted there. John Allison’s Scary Go Round just posted its final installment and in going back through the archives I decided to drag this out for the blog. This interview was originally posted on December 22, 2006.]
John Allison’s webcomic Scary Go Round stitches a world of frightfully bizarre and at times even Lovecraftian happenings together with a brilliantly quirky cast indicative of his understatedly British sense of humor. A former web designer, Allison has made the lifestyle switch to working on his comic full time and designing snazzy T-shirts, which he sells on the side. I reached around the globe to gently pick Allison’s brain about the webcomics scene from where he stands, how he brought up Scary Go Round and when he’s coming back to the U.S.
Before you had started your first webcomic, Bobbins, what was your comics background like, what had you done, and why did you decide to give the Internet a go for publishing it?
I had no comics background at all! I had drawn comics like every comic-reading youth does—sporadically, and badly! When I was 17 or 18 I had an idea about drawing comics for common people, because I was embarrassed to go into comic shops with my friends. This was the era of “bad girl” comics and racks of covers with giant, anatomically bizarre cleavage. Comic books, [before] the manga explosion and mainstreaming of titles like Ghost World and the crossover of people like James Kochalka, seemed to be aimed at a tiny demographic that didn’t include me anymore. So I decided to make a comic strip (which I figured was “legit”) and submit it to syndicates. I colored my black-and-white samples in and put them on the Internet just to show I knew how to color things in, and that’s how I started publishing comics on the web in 1998.
What was your experience like looking for print syndication?
I submitted to King Features and Universal Features, once. The first 25 strip cartoons I had ever drawn! The hubris of this now staggers me but I was young and indestructible. I received nice, encouraging letters back from both—King Features were particularly generous with their comments considering what I had sent them. By the time they replied, I had got a job as a magazine designer but decided to carry on making five comics a week, reasoning that if I hadn’t “made it” in five years, I would give up. I actually drew my first proper month’s wages from my comic four years and 11 months later.