Irish Songs and Secret, in Cartoon Form

This Sunday are the Oscars, and the nominees for animated feature film feature three pretty big American releases (How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, and Big Hero 6) and two more exotic releases, including the latest Studio Ghibli release.  Besides Japan, the other foreign country represented is, perhaps surprisingly, Ireland!

Song of the Sea was created by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, and it takes on the Irish myth of the selkie, seals who shed their seal skins to become women and take human husbands… or something like that…  The Oscars’ page on the film has some more footage, and it really is stunning!

The selkie is a pretty folk tale, but of course my favorite interpretation is John Allison’s!  Selkies figured into a 2012 Bad Machinery case, and I just love those meddling mystery-solving kids!  Click on the image below to read The Case of the Fire Inside from the beginning!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Tomm Moore is also the creator of the similarly-Irish-themed and similarly-gorgeously-animated 2009 feature film The Secret of Kells, this one about the classic monastic illustrated manuscript, The Book of Kells.

You Meddling Kids!

I’ve written about Manchester-based cartoonist John Allison before: he’s made several webcomic series set in the mystery-filled north English town of Tackleford since 1998, and the most recent series is Bad Machinery, launched in 2009.  I may like this series best of all as it fulfills my love of mystery-solving kids!

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case of the Fire Inside, copyright John Allison

Sadly, Allison recently said that he’s retiring Bad Machinery, if not the beloved characters themselves:

I don’t want to stop telling stories with these characters, but I’m not sure I can do much more with them without returning to the drawing board. There’s definitely more to come from Charlotte, Shauna and the rest of them, but you might not see much of them for a little while. (source)

In the meantime, he has plenty of characters and stories to build on in the shared universe that is Tackleford for regular updates until he figures out their next incarnation; currently, he’s returned to the Bobbins heading that started his webcomic career off back in 1998.  As for Bad Machinery, there are eight full cases available online, and Oni Press is also releasing them in print form, two down and six to go!

While I wait for the junior detectives of Tackleford to make their come back, I do have another pair of meddling kids to tide me over:

That’s right, Alex Hirsch‘s Gravity Falls from Disney Animation!  Starring twins Mabel and Dipper Pines and their paranormal adventures in the mystery-filled town of Gravity Falls, Oregon…  It has a really enchanting setting and great animation, but compared to Bad Machinery it maybe has a more cynical, detached sense of humor?  Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it!  But maybe Bad Machinery is more satisfying on more levels…

And of course, in deference to the grandaddy of all mystery solving kids shows, here’s Mabel Pine’s Scooby Doo impersonation:

Comic Making Potpourri

I’m a sucker for advice from webcartoonists, and promoting your product isn’t something you hear much about, but John Allison of Scary go Round / Bad Machinery fame recently weighed in on the matter briefly;

The best way to get your work popular is to do good work, do a lot of it, and win people over with the force of your lovely personality. If your comics are no good, it doesn’t matter what you do. (source)

That’s sort of the main takeaway from all creative types, including, if you’ll allow this very tenuous segue,  Sarah See Andersen, an illustration student posting hilarious autobio Doodle Time comics on Tumblr on the side…

Even more tenuously related, I also enjoyed this Comics Journal interview with cartoonist Simon Hanselmann where he had some interesting things to say about the local Melbourne comics & zine scene and breaking onto the international stage, especially with this bit about Tumblr, his primary platform.

With the internet everything is linked up now. Tumblr is just a big zine faire that never shuts down. (source)

From Life Zone, by Simon Hanselmann

From Life Zone, Copyright Simon Hanselmann

Enjoying his Tumblr, which is a sorta scarily life-like depiction of quarter-life crisis suburban anomie…  With a talking owl…

Also gotta shout out to Allison’s current Bad Machinery storyline, which is hurting my head with all the time travel and butterfly-stepping involved…  Waiting to see how all the time tampering turns out for our kid detectives…  Also Lottie’s reaction to microfilm machines is basically how I felt when I first used one over the summer:

John Allison's Bad Machinery webcomic, The Case of the Forked Road

Copyright John Allison

Terror Bunny

Can’t believe I haven’t featured John Allison here before!  I’m a big fan, and Scary Go Round was how I was first introduced to his work.

Originally the story of some wackily irresponsible overgrown children dealing with all manner of mystical mayhem in a mid-sized English town, Allison has since shifted focus to the next generation in Bad Machinery, with reasonably responsible schoolyard sleuths investigating mysteries in that same town.  In between chapters of Bad Machinery he posts short stories in the same shared universe, and right now he’s following SGR breakout star Esther DeGroot in Uni.

Lots of options on where to start!  If you want a taste of classic Allison, may I recommend the French Easter mystery from 2008 sampled above…  Appropriate for the season!