(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. My introduction is here.)
Chapter 9: Ballad of the Man
Click on the chapter title above to read this chapter; when you get to a full page of Amy's torso you have reached the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post.
This is a sad story. But it's only sad because it's happy in the middle!
Ryan is failing with the ladies because he can't talk to them, doesn't wash and his landlady discourages Lady callers. When Amy and Shelley get him ready for his date they burn his clothes, which have been his costume since the strip started. Unlike the ladies, Allison hasn't got too adventurous with Ryan's clothes... until now! Dressing him like Columbo is inspired. He's also clean shaven until his 5 o'clock shadow reappears... at the moment when he starts to have fun talking to Natalie.
His date is awkward, as Poppy is a fanatical whittler, but not so much as to use the "coward's door". I salute him.
Despite his pessimism, he's very down when his date isn't good. Hey, this is Tackleford! No one went mad or died or disappeared into the 4th dimension! That's a win! And as it turns out, it is. he meets Friend bat and Natalie.
Natalie talks rubbish. But it's exactly the sort of rubbish to get Ryan out of his depression. The funniest word is "erotic". Brilliant.
Meanwhile Ryan's landlady and her cronies are evil. E.V.I.L. She calls Amy and Shelley whores and believes Natalie to be a succubus, or some other sort of demond to be driven out with a spoon. Then failing to exorcise her, they send an Orangutan to burn her out of her caravan.
A lot of people note Chapter 3, Meddling, when Shelley returns from the dead as a zombie as where Scary Go Round really comes into it's own. If so, this story is where it grows up. Again someone Ryan cares about is dead. This time it's worse than before. He's devastated. Him falling under his landlady's spell is humorous, but it's a dark humour, tinged with pathos.
The fancy dress party, where Shelley goes as Fallon, Fallon goes as Amy and Amy goes as Shelley shows up a problem with the art. Their wigs are too good and their faces too identical. Fallon is taller than the other two and Shelley has green eyes; Amy has tattoos; other than that, they actually look identical.
Shelley is referred to as "tiny lady" and other references to her smallness occur elsewhere in the comic. I believe she is later described as 5 foot 4 and is fairly slim, but she's not all that small. I don't know where I'm going with this, just noting it as something to keep an eye on.
Bodycount for this episode is 1, for a run total of 26.
So Ryan is down, and out for the moment. Natalie is dead and burned so unlikely to return from the dead. Obviously it's time to focus on another member of the cast as she becomes a Shopgirl.
Best Lines/ Alternative Titles
Is bare-knuckle boxing a way men show that secretly they love one another?
Escort your chattering whores from the porch Mr Beckwith! They are spoiling my enjoyment of my hearing trumpet.
Those were good clothes. They been with me a long time. Life's going to be hard now. People don't like a guy who just wears underpants. Guy like that rolls into town folks start talkin' trash.
This seems like a pretty decent sort of menu. Meat, fish, everythin'!
No Pressure on a hermit. Just drinking rain and gettin' on with growing a beard.
Oh my, what an erotic mailbox. it gives ze postman ze chills!
Please pass me a can of peas. Wait, no, do you not have one zat is more erotic?
An artist must know suffering, so i decide to summer here in England.
You are going to have to speak up friend, I do not understand sonar so good.
Ryan - looking for love
Hugo - tired of Ryan looking for love
Shelley and Amy - willing to help Ryan look for love, but not provide it themselves
Fallon - subject of a control experiment
Mrs Birch - Ryan's evil landlady. The rent is very reasonable.
Friend Bat - a bat
Natalie - not looking for love, but finds it
Mrs Birch's aged cronies - also evil, but mostly confused
Tim, Tessa, Rachel and Ralph - cameo appearance at the costume party