I’ve talked about it previously: John Allison remains one of the most consistently great comic creators in the industry. And with his frequent collaborator in Max Sarin providing the art and Sammy Borras and Jim Campbell giving us colors and letters respectively, we have the set-up for, The Great British Bump-Off. As another series spinning off the mystery children from Allison’s Bad Machinery webcomic, we’re diving further into characters we’ve been reading for over a decade now but finally seeing them outside their home of Tackleford.
UK Bakery Tent is one of the most popular show in the country with its relatively chill atmosphere and group of home bakers coming together to create fun treats based on weekly themes (it’s basically The Great British Bake-Off but licensing is expensive). But, as this is a story involving Shauna Wickle, murder is afoot. Before the first episode can even be shot, one of the contestants is found dead in the practice tent, and there’s talk of canceling the series—even the entire show—due to its loss of innocence. How could someone be murdered for baked goods? But as that thought comes about, Shauna volunteers to find the killer while also competing as a contestant. As far as anyone else knows, the murder victim simply had an accident and is in the hospital, but Shauna—along with two other contestants in Sunil and Jill—is keeping her eyes open for who could be harboring malicious intent in the tent.
As with their previous series, Wicked Things, the creative team here knows how to balance murder and humor without it becoming too crass. We have an entire cast to work with—twelve contestants, two hosts (one of which is a cat), two judges, and the three producers. With just a few panels of time between them all, we already have a strong sense of character—bolstered by Sarin’s emotive expressions. From the first issue, we only have the set-up, but any person could have been the culprit in this poisoning. As the victim was seen arguing with most of the other contestants in the practice tent before being killed, there’s a potential motive pointing at nearly everyone competing. Even with a killer running free in the tent, you also can’t help but feel charmed by the eccentricities of every member of the cast. But then that just makes the killer at large somehow more terrifying.
Despite running the gambit from supernatural to slice-of-life to mysteries to murders, John Allison’s work has always been immediately recognizable based on dialog alone. But his collaborations with artists like Max Sarin, Sammy Borras, Lissa Treiman, and Julaa Madrigal shows the breadth of talent that goes into these comics. It’s hard not to be excited when you see Allison’s name appear on a new solicitation list, but it’s even more exciting to see who’s coming to work with him again.
Get excited. Get baking.
Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida.
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