Ray and Roast Beef get physical
October 7, 2008 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Chris Onstad's online comic Achewood has recently gotten some semi-mainstream media attention: A Salon piece and an NPR interview with the author related to the publication of a print version of the ultra-violent epic The Great Outdoor Fight of 2006. The online version in its entirety begins innocently enough here. previously.
posted by longsleeves (74 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ooo, and don't forget the Sandwich Duel he's been having lately at the Cartoon Lounge!
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2008


Metafilter: a think tank for deadly sins eight through fourteen.
posted by The White Hat at 2:42 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


man why you even got to do a thing
posted by entropone at 2:47 PM on October 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


If you really want to get technical, the Great Outdoor Fight arc starts here, with the Ray and Todd brainstorming session that led to "ChatSacks".
posted by pziemba at 2:48 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


He also recently published a comic in Dark Horse Presents. I'd link but it seems to be down at the moment. I didn't like it much though. Great Outdoor Fight, on the other hand, is a masterpiece.
posted by Tehanu at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2008


Great Outdoor Fight is the center of the series, to be sure, but my advice to anyone who hasn't started reading Achewood yet is to begin with The Badass Games, which is hilarious and also gives you the best sense of who all the characters are.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:54 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: The Thomas Edison of handing a dude his ass!
posted by Mikey-San at 3:10 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This allows me to finally confess: I don't get the first Achewood comic. (The very first - where Phillipe is standing on the instruction manual.) Of course, Achewood can be incredibly opaque at times. Is this one of them, or is there no joke to be got?
posted by outlier at 3:10 PM on October 7, 2008


I love Achewood.

And now I'll just sit here patiently and wait for Stan Chin to show up.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Great Outdoor fight alone, never mind the entirety of Achewood, singlehandedly redeems the medium of web comics. I've been a fan since Teodor, Mr. Bear, Phillipe and Lyle were the main characters, and Roast Beef didn't even have a name yet, and it just keeps topping itself. Other especially great storylines are The Badass Games, Cartilage Head, Ray Goes To Hell, and the three times Roast Beef dies and goes to heaven. You can find them by using the "Jump To A Story Arc" dropdown on the site. Hell, if you've got some time, just start at the beginning and go from there, although the characters don't really develop until about a year in, and a lot of the humor is based on the interaction of the characters and their personalities.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2008


outlier: I've always considered the first few Achewood comics to just be inside jokes for Onstad. The real strip doesn't truly start until "The Party"

I'm gonna go re-read the GOF now.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2008


While I think the GOF is good, I prefer the arc where Philippe goes to say goodbye to the couch at the transfer station.
posted by crashlanding at 3:24 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Achewood sucks.
posted by Stan Chin at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


What a coincidence. I've spent the last day or so reading through the Achewood archives for the first time. I guess that makes me a poseur or something.
posted by Dr-Baa at 3:26 PM on October 7, 2008


Hacking Yahoo is also very good.
posted by Tehanu at 3:27 PM on October 7, 2008


Yay, Stan Chin.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:27 PM on October 7, 2008


Did they ever release Achewood in print?
posted by xmutex at 3:28 PM on October 7, 2008


crashlanding: good call. "I am flying Airwolf because I own Airwolf. Nothing else I could say would make more sense given what I am doing and what I own."
posted by Navelgazer at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2008


Did they ever release Achewood in print?

Onstad sells print collections through the main site. They usually have some bonus material, such as a cranky blurb from Tony Milionaire.

Also, I feel like we shouldn't forget Ray's Place or the many blogs (which I'm too lazy to link to individually, but they're below the strip on the main site).
posted by nímwunnan at 3:35 PM on October 7, 2008


Did they ever release Achewood in print?
posted by xmutex at 3:28 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


Yes.
posted by basicchannel at 3:36 PM on October 7, 2008


Oh, and the Mexican Magical Realism arc. It's probably the most surreal material in the whole comic, so it may not be the first thing you should read, but it's another great example of what makes Achewood so different from and so much better than the average "ha ha computers internet current events anime furry-related fetish" webcomic. Besides the fact that Onstad can draw and isn't a 17 year old dork.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:38 PM on October 7, 2008


"I'm not sure what you mean. I don't know if what you're saying means anything."
posted by hototogisu at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Reenacting Star Wars whilst stood on Roombas.
posted by aihal at 3:54 PM on October 7, 2008


The Case of the Mystery! A hard-boiled detective novel, by Phillipe!!
posted by ormondsacker at 3:58 PM on October 7, 2008


I thought the most recent story arc was the best it's been in a long time. Not that the wedding wasn't a special, magical time for everyone and all, but the past couple of weeks have been consistently great.

Also, thanks for not just linking to today's Achewood.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:00 PM on October 7, 2008


Reenacting Star Wars whilst stood on Roombas.

Dogg don't piss on me I just invented Photoshop! I had this on my office door a few jobs ago.

There are several "Roomba! The robotic floor vac" installments, and the "Hacking Yahoo" storyline shows how they got the Roombas.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:01 PM on October 7, 2008


I've stumbled across various Achewood strips over the years, but this was the first time I read a whole story arc. The names of the fighters are awesome, and I love how the lack of punctuation can lend humor or deadly seriousness to the situation.
posted by pepcorn at 4:03 PM on October 7, 2008


Maybe now he'll be able to afford a copy of Illustrator, Freehand or Photoshop? You know, something other than MS Paint?
posted by signal at 4:10 PM on October 7, 2008


Man! I feel like every blog and webcomic I read has mentioned this comic in the past week and I suddenly felt kind of out of touch for not having already known about it. And then just today I saw Kochalka saying that he'd given out the award for best webcomic at SPX so I clicked over to see who won and it was Achewood.
posted by lampoil at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2008


I always thought GOF was one of his weakest story arcs because it lacked a lot of the surrealism of his other strips. Plus I really like the unpredictability of the other arcs, which aren't quite as linear and predictable. (It was always obvious to me that both Ray and Roast Beef would win, so getting to that was kind of like pulling teeth, especially compared to the aforementioned excellent Phillipe and the Sofa storyline, which started as a trip to the dump and ended up with a zombie Keith Moon causing a rift between two friends over money and weight gain, an ending you probably wouldn't have predicted from the start.)

Plus next to some of his leaner strips, a lot of Barry's blogging comes off as far too wordy and the humor about the other fight contestants is just kind of forced. The other contestants didn't have any of the normal character subtlety that most of the other Achewood characters had. Since I read Achewood because I love the characters so much... that was really a problem.

Don't get me wrong - I think that Achewood is one of the best online strips out there, and I'm a guy who really believes in online strips. (If I didn't, I wouldn't draw one myself.) But I've never seen the point of the Great Outdoor Fight.
posted by Kiablokirk at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2008


I thought it was funny that when NPR was covering him, anyone that would be visiting the strip for the first time would be introduced to a new sex act. It was nice to imagine NPR listeners dropping their monocles in shock.
posted by drezdn at 4:23 PM on October 7, 2008


A personal favorite.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:30 PM on October 7, 2008


Maybe now he'll be able to afford a copy of Illustrator, Freehand or Photoshop? You know, something other than MS Paint?

I never think twice about the drawing, 'cause Achewood is really all about the writing:

Dude Todd is like the Steve Irwin of getting STDs if gonorrhea was a piano todd would be considered a bold and unpredictable new talent
posted by oneirodynia at 4:34 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: an army of ex-kids who were always picked last for kickball.
posted by Rangeboy at 4:37 PM on October 7, 2008


Good to see the Great Outdoor Fight Wiki is still up.
posted by Iridic at 4:37 PM on October 7, 2008


I've the comic sans one autographed, framed and hanging in my office.
posted by Mick at 5:01 PM on October 7, 2008


Maybe now he'll be able to afford a copy of Illustrator, Freehand or Photoshop? You know, something other than MS Paint?

Achewood has always been made in Illustrator, as if it matters.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:01 PM on October 7, 2008


Dogg it must feel sick as hell to receive a card from a dude
posted by First Post at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2008


Does anyone subscribe to the "premium subscribers text messages" or whatever? It sounds pointless, but I'm curious if anyone has taken the plunge and can review/describe it.
posted by cell divide at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2008


I subscribe to the premium service. It makes me laugh every day.
posted by basicchannel at 5:27 PM on October 7, 2008


I will never forget the first Achewood I read. It was the Volvo of Despair.
posted by Tehanu at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2008


Damn I linked that wrong. That was Oregon Trail. Volvo of Despair.
posted by Tehanu at 5:36 PM on October 7, 2008


oneirdynia:

"How do you keep from getting like AIDS or a kid and stuff?"
"I dunno. I guess by not giving a fuck."
"DAMN! That answer could use some work!"
posted by Navelgazer at 5:36 PM on October 7, 2008


I think that Achewood is brilliant and that Chris Onstad is a bizarre, insane, surreal, twisted and incredibly, consistently funny genius.
posted by kcds at 5:53 PM on October 7, 2008


I guess I just don't get it. I've heard several times that Achewood represents the apex of webcomics, checked it out, and kinda shrugged and said "meh". Am I being dense? Is there some deep meaning/humor that I'm missing? Or is it just that to appreciate it your taste has to run to pseudo-ghetto talking cats in thongs?
posted by sotonohito at 6:06 PM on October 7, 2008


Achewood is fantastic, and if you don't get it that's okay. It takes all kinds.
posted by nightchrome at 6:26 PM on October 7, 2008



Does anyone subscribe to the "premium subscribers text messages" or whatever? It sounds pointless, but I'm curious if anyone has taken the plunge and can review/describe it.


I am very satisfied with my six bucks every three months spent on this service. VERY SATISFIED.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:27 PM on October 7, 2008


Last year this girl and I got together and I liked her a lot but as it turned out she played me real bad. Well recently she and I have been talking again and now she's telling me that she likes me and all. She's telling the truth this time too. She's a neat girl, but my question is should I try and hook up with her or should I play her back hard just to get even? Both options sound good to me. And I'm not lying, this really happened to me.
-R.D., Houston TX


Dear R.D.,

This actually happened?! No Way. Dude, I would not believe that this happened in a million years. I cannot believe a story like this. How could it be that these events could occur?! Man, this is EARTH, not some kind of "Crazy-Dimension X-12"!

Fuck you.
posted by Kwine at 7:07 PM on October 7, 2008


I guess I just don't get it. I've heard several times that Achewood represents the apex of webcomics, checked it out, and kinda shrugged and said "meh".

Well, link us to what you think is the apex of webcomics, and we'll be more than happy to point out how you're so wrong.
posted by Jimbob at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ordered the first collection and, as is common with achewood merchandise, it arrived about eighty years late.

But, in recompense, I got an apology letter with a drawing of Philippe on it! It was worth the wait!
posted by winna at 8:12 PM on October 7, 2008


Man I love Achewood. Some of my faves:

Those are some pans that I have.

I don't understand caves :(


PS No cab has been called


Bad Library Customer


Father, What's Mattew McConaughey?

posted by ludwig_van at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2008


I keep trying to read Achewood, thinking that this time I'll get it. I can't decide between me not getting it and there being nothing to get and that being the joke.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:53 PM on October 7, 2008


I'm also a bit lost on achewood. Friends whose opinions I respect very much send me Achewood comics on a regular basis and while I might smile a bit upon reading them, I've never found anything to make me say "Yes. This. YES YES YES. I must read this daily, or nearly daily, whichever works for the author." I feel as if I'm missing out on something, but I can't quite break through to what ...

For what it's worth, my regular webcomics include Nobody Scores!, Penny Arcade, Partially Clips, Wondermark, White Ninja, XKCD, Qwantz, and PBF (alas) if that helps someone help me.
posted by barnacles at 9:01 PM on October 7, 2008


Yeah, it's the former.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:02 PM on October 7, 2008


I've never been a huge fan, but I enjoyed the Great Outdoor Fight, and The Mountain and the Motorcycle makes me laugh every time.
posted by graventy at 9:08 PM on October 7, 2008


Pope Guilty, there's a joke there, but it takes knowing the characters pretty well before the jokes work, and even then they aren't necessarily LOL-type things.Also, mind that a LOT of the time the strip will just set up bizarre and awkward situations, leave them hanging, and have what punchline there is be in the alt text.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:15 PM on October 7, 2008


I tabled at SPX and was at the Ignatz awards where Achewood won for best online comic this year. I continue to "not get" the strip, I suppose if that's what you'll call it, but saying that Onstad has improved over the last six years is an understatement. Looking back at the 2002 thread, I'm kind of amazed at how much I thought Achewood sucked back then. However, looking back in Achewood's archives, I'm amazed at how much it sucked back then.

Like most other webcomics, it's improved a lot after the artist worked at it for six or seven years. But I continue to not understand how people place it as the highest echelon of webcomicry. There are a lot of other webcomics that have better writing (Dr. McNinja), show an vastly greater improvement in the artwork over the life of the strip (Penny Arcade), and have a stronger grasp at topical humor and comic esoterica (Overcompensating).
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:17 PM on October 7, 2008


...Achewood has alt text? Sonofabitch, now I have to go read the entire archive. I've been reading Achewood for years and never even noticed that.
posted by rifflesby at 9:24 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reading The Great Outdoor Fight story arc for the first time in 2006 during a period of intense depression probably helped save my life. Achewood simply rules all hell.

That said, I think the strip has fallen off a bit this year with Onstad's increasing attention to moneymaking ventures, but all is forgiven in perpetuity, for the G.O.F. arc and for the occasional gems that still appear.

"If I had plans, they were made by an incorrect life I no longer maintain."
posted by FrauMaschine at 9:26 PM on October 7, 2008


...Achewood has alt text?

Indeed, and in one of them (sadly I can't remember which right now) is the key to it's appeal. Onstad says, half-jokingly, in the roll-over, "Achewood is a celebration of the English language" after a strip of something particularly creative and astoundingly foul. This is the truth though. Dr. McNinja has great writing, to be sure, but it's not the manna for word-geeks the way Achewood can be. There's simply no better writing in all of Comics, IMO.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 PM on October 7, 2008


Navelgazer: it's not really that foul
posted by flaterik at 12:38 AM on October 8, 2008


... I guess I just don't get it.

... I'm also a bit lost on achewood.

... I continue to "not get" the strip,

To the lost souls above, who don't understand Achewood: this is perfectly normal. Several times, people recommended I read it, and several times I did so and failed to find it funny. Then, suddenly it clicked. This apparently is a common phenomena - just suddenly "getting it".

I'm not going to berate you, and insist that you read until revelation dawns upon you, but it's like this: Achewood is humour made from whole cloth. It's hard to point at any one line or thing and say "that's funny", or explain a setup and payoff. It's more that the whole situation is funny, and understanding it necessitates "knowing" the comic strip. So there can be an awkward period of reading the strip for a while, before finding it funny. And often there's multiple gags strewn through a strip, but no payoff. The webcomic Scarygoround works in a similar mode, it's creator once noting that he was less interested in making gags, as opposed to making the whole strip funny.

And my favourite line: Squirrel Police: Official Notice That Your Vehicle is Fricking Awesome (Where'd you get it?)
posted by outlier at 12:52 AM on October 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


My wife and I have an autographed copy of Mickey Mouse Pancake up on our wall.

You know, for perspective during these hard, hard times.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:22 AM on October 8, 2008


Jimbob My comment was more along the lines of "can someone point out what I'm missing" than "hur hur your favorite webcomic is teh suxorz!!!!"
posted by sotonohito at 6:06 AM on October 8, 2008


I didn't get Achewood the first time I tried it. Came back a year later and did. I would second the advice of starting with "The Party." Soon thereafter, the focus of the comic shifts to Beef and Ray, and that's when it really starts to take off. I love the other characters, but they shine brighter in limited doses.

FWIW, this is also the first time I've seen a multi-link post where all of the links were displaying their vlink colors before I even read it. I looooooves me some Achewood.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:21 AM on October 8, 2008


Fans of the Great Outdoor Fight will be interested in the series of four historical GOF posters you can buy from the Achewood store:

1924

1943
1957
1969


I'm pretty much the last guy who would consider "posters ordered from a webcomic" to be a valid home decoration option for adults--to quote Mr. Smuckles: Have some dignity in your life--but I have all four framed in my office, and they look amazing.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:10 AM on October 8, 2008


It is okay to not get Achewood.

It speaks to one of my boyfriends; it does not speak to the other, or to me. When Rik starts speaking in a certain way, we just pat him on the head and call him Roast Beef, and we're usually right. Despite this, we love each other.

Achewood reminds me a lot of the work of Chris Ware, which also leaves me cold. There are certain emotional notes, and kinds of humor, that I'm just not interested in digging deeply into.
posted by egypturnash at 9:41 AM on October 8, 2008


I'm writing to support those of you who don't "get" Achewood. A friend of mine tried on a couple of occasions to turn me on to the strip, and I'd read a few, but it sort of just didn't make sense. A few months later, I checked back in, because there was something so... odd about the whole thing.

Still nothing.

Then, years later and on a total whim, I loaded up achewood.com and found this strip. I laughed so hard I cried, and it's now a daily stop.

To my mind, the strip is a lot like green olives. You see people eating them, and you think, "How disgusting!" and then you do it anyway, and after about the eighth olive you're licking your lips because DAMN.
posted by rocketman at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've always enjoyed the Hangover Ham strip if only for the quote "Being Ray's best friend is like watching an ever-ending film loop of a kid riding his bike into a telephone pole."

Somehow I think we can all relate to that, for some degree of relation.
posted by Spatch at 11:34 AM on October 8, 2008


(oh, crumbs. "a never-ending film loop". that's what we get for not previewing.)
posted by Spatch at 11:35 AM on October 8, 2008


For me, Achewood is about the rhythm of the language despite it being text. Achewood is about well-developed and subtle characters. However, I also think there is an element that appeals to fans that is kind of hard to express in words. What egypturnash said about "emotional notes" seems to be getting at that element. As said above, Achewood is not for everyone, but if you have given it a genuine chance and still don't get/like it, I will just put you in a certain mental category w/r/t your worldview and sense of humor and leave it at that.
posted by mayfly wake at 12:57 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've never been a big Achewood fan and I haven't looked at it for many years, but The Great Outdoor Fight was excellent. So, thanks for that.

There is one previously-encountered Achewood comic that I have liked: I've been a fan of this decision-making flowchart ever since I saw it linked somewhere. It helps me through my life choices.
posted by painquale at 6:57 PM on October 8, 2008


SaniTaco!
The Safe, Fun Taco.
posted by ryanrs at 8:05 PM on October 8, 2008


(the story arc, not that one strip)
posted by ryanrs at 8:06 PM on October 8, 2008


« Older A restaurant in Japan employs Monkey Waiters. They...  |  Last month (Sept. 16, 2008) th... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments