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Bad Machinery Volume 1: The Case of the Team Spirit Paperback – April 2, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–Originally published as a serialized webcomic, The Case of the Team Spirit introduces a group of British tweens involved in a mystery. A series of strange events leads some people to believe that the local Tackleford City Football Club is cursed. Meanwhile, plans for a new stadium are being blocked by tough old Mrs. Biscuits. Six students become unlikely detectives, unraveling the case while navigating life as first-year grammar school students. Each comic is built to stand alone while connecting to the larger story, sometimes stalling momentum. The quirky dialogue includes significant doses of snark. The vivid, full-color illustrations are lovely. The line work is smooth, well defined, and efficient, successfully conveying the emotions of the characters. The large trim size and simple panel layouts add to the visual appeal. Back matter includes a glossary of lesser-known UK terms and phrases used in the book, brief bios of each character, and a mock newspaper history of the Tackleford Football Club. Unique in both story and tone, this title is perfect for graphic-novel fans looking for something a bit different.–Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Six classmates find themselves at odds over the football stadium in their town of Tackleford, England. The girls are worried about an old lady who is about to lose her home to the stadium upgrade, whereas the boys are more worried about the curse plaguing the owner. But those issues are hard to handle when the kids are also trying to navigate their way through their first year at grammar school. This volume kicks off Allison’s popular webcomic, which is itself a spin-off from his older webcomic Scary Go Round. Likely owing to its serial origins and its prequel nature, the story can be choppy, switches abruptly between slice-of-life and story arc, and sometimes seems to leave things out. But fans of the online strip and its predecessor, as well as teens and adults who like a bit of smart snark and sass, will appreciate Allison’s unique humor and offbeat story as well as the Kate Beaton–like (though full-color) art. Grades 7-10. --Snow Wildsmith
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a lot of good reasons for "Bad Machinery's" popularity. While the book encompasses just one mystery, the collection really reflects three different lines. First, of course, is the mystery that arcs through the whole book. Next, though, the series is seasoned by "one off" jokes and bits that only take a strip or two or three to set up a laugh. Finally, there are issues, characters and relationships that are developed in this series but that will continue to appear and develop in later books as well. This adds a lot of depth and interest to the whole undertaking, and reminds me very strongly of "Doonesbury", which followed a very similar pattern.
Also in the style of "Doonesbury", Allison has a real command of "minimalist" or succinct humor. You only get a few panels per strip, and only so many words. You have to set up a situation, work it, and then deliver a payoff with just a few drawings and a few well chosen words. That is just brutally difficult to do, (think of how many bad imitators of artist/humorist Gary Larson's "Far Side" are out there), and Allison pulls it off brilliantly.
Plus, each of the six teens, and almost all of the secondary characters, are individually realized and engaging. The book starts with a panel or two dedicated to each teen's preparation for a new school year. Briefly and effectively Allison sets up each character, shows us what's important about that character, and gets us involved in that character. Within a few pages this is not a comicbook, but as compelling as any YA novel. Added to that is the fact that the dialogue is fast, sharp, witty, and yet generous. It is not snarky or mean spirited, and is ultimately good-natured, if a bit edgy. As a result you end up liking these people and sympathizing with their various predicaments and foibles. (Again, echoes of "Doonesbury".)
So, a light authorial touch, insight, humor, and engaging characters. Well worth a try.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to the author or the publisher of this book.
If you aren't familiar with the comic, it's a story about 6 mystery-sleuthing British youngsters and the strange town they live in. It's phenomenal. No one can write a character like John Allison. He makes dialogue funny without jokes, and the emotional depth of the characters is unrivaled. Buy it!