(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. Introduction here.)
Chapter 2: Science Fair.
Click on the above to read this chapter; when Ryan invites Tim to the pub you have started the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post. If for some reason, rather than reading the comic you want to stay here, at the bottom of this post is the plot synopsis and character list I made to keep everything straight in my head.
In this second chapter Allison introduces Tim Jones and his friends from his previous comic, Bobbins. Again we have two threats; firstly a murderous murderer murdering people, and secondly Tim Jones being wrongly imprisoned for the crime.
The first chapter, The Gas, had a six panel page format. This chapter has a four panel page format. These smaller pages lead to a greater frequency of punchlines (and cliffhangers). This might have made the story seem lighter and sillier than the first chapter, but due to the visceral nature of the crimes - there's blood and a big knife in Fogerty's chest - and the fact one of the victims, Shelley, is someone nice, it all seems a lot more serious. People can get hurt, and there will be consequences. Not so much Scooby Doo as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Shelley's death makes me think a little of Gandalf's and Boromir's in The Fellowship of the Ring*. Gandalf and Boromir aren't walk-on parts, they're some of our heroes and they get killed. This isn't The Hobbit, this is serious business!
Nevertheless, much amusement in this chapter, from the nature of the inventions, to Tim's jailbreak, to Archie's death. Rachel and Tessa disagree on the the style of their crimesolving, with Tessa wanting to tangle with the killer. Nevertheless in the confrontation with Archie it's Rachel who wants to stab him with the pen. We see the flipside of the police being unfazed by a gaseous murderer - if you'll swallow that, why not blame someone who who is locked in jail? It's almost as though the police can't be bothered to investigate so someone else has to do it for them.
I'd say this is a step forward from the last one - just as funny but with a notion that this isn't just comedy, but there are also some consequences to all this weirdness.
Next time some of those consequences are explored and take a wacky left turn in Meddling (which I'll cover next Tuesday).
* This trope is used all over fantasy - one of our heroes is killed to show that THIS IS SERIOUS. This was brought to my attention by George R R Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire is coming to our screens soon. Hey, Sean Bean is playing Eddard Stark!
Alternate Titles to This Post/Best lines
What would President Jimmy Carter do?
I will tell you exactly who killed Seamus Fogerty and framed Tim - after I have been for a wee-wee because this is very exciting.
"Do you think Angela Lansbury ever cusses?" "Jesus yeah. She gets drunk and talks about how cute her ass is."
This is the world's most pathetic police force.
"Do you have enemies?" "I made a list. It's divided into "Sassed 'em", "Diddled their daughters" and "Misc"" "That's a lot of diddle." "And sass."
Hey is that the classic tweed cap, beige topcoat and sportsman's pipe?
Well... if we can't hurt his body... maybe we can injure... his feelings. Or jam this ballpoint pen into his brain.
Destructive power of rock and flimsy scientific principles don't fail me now.
Damn that's all the reminder I'll ever need not to run with scissors.
I have to break back into jail now in order to receive my official pardon. You never saw me - right.
Rachel, fashionably flappy trousers are a liability in a combat situation. Now, better than ever, I understand the all-action catsuit. Me-ow.
When taking an average of personality and ass, nationally she must have been in the top 1%.
Tim Jones, inventor
Shelley, ginger friend of Tim
Ryan, layabout friend of Tim
Rachel, student journalist and amateur investigator
Tessa, student journalist and amateur investigator
Angus Fogerty, inventor and rival to Tim
Archie Stanwyck, Angus' assistant
Fallon Young, superspy and friend of Tim
Professor Len, friend of Tim
Amy, Len's daughter and friend of Tim
Ryan and Shelley go to the Science Fair to help Tim with his exhibit. It's the glow in the dark duck, which will improve society, although not by much. Rachel and Tessa turn up to cover the science fair. Seamus Fogerty, Tim's archrival turns up, mocks the glow in the dark ducks and reveals his invention - Mr Baker, a combination breadmaker, coffeemaker and alarmclock. Tim is furious as this is his invention from the previous year, except using moulded plastic and with the minor scalding problem fixed.
As the science fair closes, Tim receives a note from Angus challenging him to have the issue out at midnight with fists and hurting. Arriving there, Tim discovers Angus dead. Covered in blood, the police turn up. Tim realises it's a frame up but is unable to convince the cops.
Tim's friends meet to try and get him off. Shelley claims to know who the culprit is, but before she can tell, she is killed on her way to the toilet. Although Rachel is nervous Tessa is keen to investigate. The police are happy to pin both murders on Tim, despite him being in jail when Shelley died. They interview Tim in jail and get a list of his enemies. They decide to start at Fogerty's offices, which are all posh and everything, while Tim works out of a shed. there they meet Fogerty's assistant and business partner Archie who is busy with million pound offers for Mr Baker.
Archie reveals that Tim and Fogerty were enemies of long standing, partly because Tim struck up a "friendship" with Drella, Fogerty's assistant. He then heads next door to get his list of Fogerty's enemies. Rachel and Tessa put together that Archie has been wronged by Tim in love, makes a lot of money from Fogerty's death and has just sealed the lab to realise that they have found out too much. In a panic, they call Tim at the prison.
Tim escapes by disguising himself. meanwhile Archie tries to kill Rachel and Tessa with some murdering inventions. They escape to the roof, with Tessa's trouser leg torn to shreds. Tim arrives to discover them trapped on the roof and reduced to hurting Archie's feelings and stabbing him with a ballpoint pen. Tim throws a rock, which hits Archie and causes him to fall on his own murdering tools and a bloody death, from which he will definitely not return. The police finally believe Tim didn't do it. Another crime solved by our intrepid girl reporters.
The chapter ends in the graveyard with Tim and Ryan missing Shelley.