John Campbell Free

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  1. about 5 hours ago on Bad Machinery

    This page wasn’t in the original posted version; it’s new for the published version. It makes the strip where Lorraine walks into the sea a lot less grim.

    I’m not sure that this means that Lorraine was a selkie all along. There wasn’t any indication that she had a sealskin, and if she did have one, I think she would have returned to the sea when whoever held it (actual-Ellen’s father, presumably) died.

    There are various legends about where selkies come from, and John doesn’t always necessarily strictly follow the folklore anyway, but in at least some of the versions, selkies are formed from the spirits of the drowned. Sasha and “Ellen” were presumably born as selkies, but Lorraine might be a “made” selkie rather than a “born” one.

    But in any case, Lorraine is with her selkie family now.

    This is the last page of “The Case of the Fire Inside”. Next up, “The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor” (starting with a brief detour through “The Case of the Rock Bottom”).

  2. about 8 hours ago on Bad Machinery

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some kind of fairy responsible for warts.

  3. 1 day ago on Bad Machinery

    As I said yesterday, this was originally posted as the bottom two-thirds of a three-row strip that began with the bottom row of yesterday’s strip. That’s why Shauna’s line and Mildred’s laughter in the first panel seem a bit apropos of nothing… they originally followed immediately after Lottie’s line (“Plenny more fish in the sea, Mildew.”) in the last panel of yesterday’s, without the strip break between.

    This was originally the end of “The Case of the Fire Inside”, but this version has one more page still to go.

    And, unfairly, Lottie has been banned from every pool in Britane even though she didn’t have a chance to do smoking.

  4. 1 day ago on Bad Machinery

    Bad Machinery is over; the kids have grown up and moved on. Lottie’s 19 now; Mildred and Shauna are 20 (or will be soon). They left the Tackleford Mystery Kids mantle in the capable(?) hands of the Wen-Tack Action Group.

    One of the things I like best about John’s comics is that the characters do grow and change. It’s not like Family Circus, where little Jeffy is now in his 60s and inherited the comic after Bil died, but is still drawing himself as a toddler and milking that same joke where Billy leaves a dotted line behind him while he runs around the neighborhood. The Lottie of today has grown up from the Lottie we first met as the little girl pestering Sarah and Esther back in Scary-Go-Round. The Ryan of today isn’t the grammar-school dropout living in a filthy squat and scraping by working at the pea cannery we first met back in Bobbins; he’s a loved and respected teacher, husband, and father. Amy got a load of tattoos and dyed her fringe. The kids growing up was literally what this case was about. (And selkies, of course.)

    One of the other things I like best, though, is that characters grow and change, but hardly anyone ever actually goes away. (And the few that do usually deserved it. You will not be missed, Rich.) Bad Machinery is over, but there are new Solver comics, featuring Lottie and Claire, posting on right now. A Giant Days character we haven’t seen since (in comic chronology) before Bad Machinery just turned up over there. Mildew and, of all people, Jack’s dad, in his second-ever appearance, came out to play in “Circus Windows”. Shelley and Lottie turned up in Cornwall in Steeple. And when it comes to it, all the mystery kids except Mildred are actually minor Scary-Go-Round characters who graduated to their own strip…

  5. 2 days ago on Bad Machinery

    As it was originally posted, this bottom row of this strip and the next strip were a single three-row strip, the last strip in the case. The big top panel here is new for the published version (the text was in the first panel of the next row). Also, the girls have been recolored in the last two panels, desaturated to make it more apparent that they’re behind the window.

  6. 2 days ago on Bad Machinery

    Or, more to the point, a seal.

  7. 3 days ago on Bad Machinery

    It’s still February. Not the best time for involuntary swimming.

  8. 5 days ago on Bad Machinery

    Yeah, Jack’s just there to give the camera work indie cred.

  9. 6 days ago on Bad Machinery

    At the other end, they’ve got Shauna to provide the muscle.

  10. 6 days ago on Bad Machinery

    Oddly, this is now the second case that’s ended up with Mildred, Lottie, and Sonny in a boat on the Tack. That’s fully 40% of the Bad Machinery cases so far.

    It might seem like a trend, but (spoiler), it’s also the last one. There’s a later case that ends in a boat, but it’s Lottie and Shauna.

    At least this time Lottie didn’t throw the oars overboard.