The Great Outdoor Fight

By | Monday, September 15, 2008 Leave a Comment
I had planned on writing this up yesterday, but a good chunk of Southwest Ohio went powerless Sunday afternoon and we're still waiting for juice. I'm actually writing this from work, which is in an old Air Force bunker and has its own generators. Y

Anyway, I first heard about Achewood a few years ago. It's often thrown out there if you're looking for quick and easy examples of popular/successful web comics. So I swang by and read a strip. Not very good, I thought, but maybe creator Chris Onstad was having an off day. So I read another strip. And another. And another. And I decided that Onstad wasn't having an off day; I just didn't like the strip. But, hey -- different strokes for different folks, right?

Several weeks ago, I won a contest through ComiXology whose prize package included several books from Viper and Dark Horse, including Onstad's new book, The Great Outdoor Fight which collects the story arc that ran on his site in the early part of 2006. I figured that it'd been several years since I'd read Achewood so I'll see if I misjudged the strip earlier. Although the book's very handsomely put together -- I'll give them credit on that -- I honestly can't really find anything else positive to say about it. Nice binding, well-printed, plenty of extras to justify buying the book over reading it online for free, but I don't care for the content at all.

It's not that I don't get what Onstad's trying to do. I can see the bits that supposed to come across as funny/amusing, and how they're supposed to come across in a where-the-heck-did-that-come-from kind of way, but it just struck me as... predictable isn't really the right word, but nothing seemed really inspired or particularly clever to me. It seems to me kind of like an artificial originality that might be generated by a computer program... it's different, but in a decidedly linear way. Coupled with poorly drawn artwork, adequate (at best) storytelling, lousy font choices, and a nearly complete disregard for punctuation, I really can't find anything about the strip -- or the book -- to recommend.

And I don't mean that to disparage Onstad or anyone who likes Achewood. Clearly, what he's doing resonates with a certain audience, so more power to him for that. If you do like Achewood, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be thrilled with this book. As much as I don't care for it myself, I can totally see how an Achewood fan would love it. As I said, it's printed well and does have many pages of extras in the same vein as the strip itself. But this really isn't my cup of tea.
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