The Great Outdoor Fight

The Great Outdoor Fight isn’t even my favourite Achewood storyline – I prefer the spooky ones like Magical Realism or Cartilage Head, or the A-grade dope humour of Nightlife Mingus or Ray’s Toilet Party, or the ones that are just cack-yourself funny, like Beef’s Magic Underpants. And Phillipe at the Transfer Station combines all three.

But the GOF is still very good, and it really shows off Chris Onstad’s talent for comic fantasy, so I ordered the book when it went pre-release on Amazon because it looked like it was really handsomely bound, and it is. It’s odd reading something in print that I’ve come to love on the web: paradoxically, the print version seems more like it was done with a computer, I suppose because on the higher level of detail provided by paper, all the curves look much more like splines. The print-only features are good value – essays and recipes and profiles of past champions.

Earlier this week I was wondering if David Foster Wallace was any kind of an influence on Onstad, or if the similarities of style tone are just down to coincidences – of sociocultural background, education levels, mood disorders and preferred recreational substances. So it was nice to find a panel in the GOF where Ray refers to ‘Cody Travis, that country dude who sells CDs to Kmart people,’ which looks like a direct reference to Wallace’s fantastic 1994 article about the Illinois State Fair, “Getting away from already being pretty much away from it all”, although maybe the term has wider currency.

I’m going to have to start buying all the other books now. I think I’ve mentioned that all my girls, and especially Grace, are keen comic artists. She’d love Achewood but I’m afraid that for now it’s going to have to stay on that shelf where, as Alison Bechdel says, the parents keep the good stuff.


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