The Great Outdoor Fight, by Chris Onstad

A word of warning before we begin, dear readers: the packaging of Chris Onstad’s Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight is deceptively adorable. This book might look like it belongs on the set of Leave It To Beaver, but it is not a story for the young’uns.

Achewood is a 7-year-old webcomic featuring a group of anthropomorphic animals, robots, and toys living in the fictional town of Achewood, CA. The strip’s central characters are lifelong friends Ray Smuckles—a sunglasses-and-thong-clad cat with a gift for making money—and Roast Beef, a perpetually depressed feline computer programmer. The Great Outdoor Fight is the first Achewood collection to be released by a major publisher, although Onstad has self-published several books, including a cookbook.

The plot of The Great Outdoor Fight—such as it is—is simple: when Ray discovers that his long-lost father won the annual event known as The Great Outdoor Fight in 1973, he decides to enter as a legacy. The Great Outdoor Fight is a three-day event in which 3,000 guys wail on each other until all but the victor is left unable to “crawl, see, or cry”. Ray joins forces with Roast Beef, who knows more about tactics and the history of the G.O.F. than anyone, but when the two friends discover that they will be expected to fight each other (a tie in The Great Outdoor Fight is resolved by both winners being run over by jeeps), their fun grinds to an abrupt halt.

Setting aside an opening sequence involving genitalia-themed cell phone ornaments, this book is actually about as all-ages-friendly as Achewood gets. There’s plenty of profanity (some of it quite creative) and male posturing, but most of the hardcore violence occurs off-screen—and, thanks to Onstad’s flat, minimalist style, even watching Ray rip a guy’s face off barely rates a raised eyebrow.

None of the individual strips featured in this book reach Achewood’s most demented heights*, but the collection does give a solid sense of the series’ fundamental awesomeness. It might be violent and profane, frequently disgusting and constantly ridiculous, but The Great Outdoor Fight is also a hilariously twisted story about guy friendship at its best.

*That would be a strip like this one, in which Roast Beef saves Ray's life with feminine hygiene products after Ray punctures his bellybutton.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


No comments yet. Be the first!

No new comments are allowed on this post.