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Eric: Why do we keep talking about the Great Outdoor Fight? Because it's *good.*

Achewood

(From Achewood! Click on the thumbnail for full sized... aw, man. By now you should just know.)

Chris Onstad is apparently quite amazed at the level of response the Great Outdoor Fight has received up until now. Certainly, the Fight has touched a nerve in readers. I don't know any other webcomic that has its audience so anxious to see what happens next right now. We are as anxious as Cornelius and Teodor, waiting by our computers for the next update. And critics and analysts are going nuts.

Well, here I am, nuts. Because I'm just so blown away. Onstad hasn't made a false move yet, in this plotline.

Now, let's consider. (And I'm building here, in part, on Wednesday's last post on the subject. You might want to review.) This is a cinematic world, with cinematic pacing. Things are thematic. And the basic theme -- the core theme -- of this story has been Ray Smuckles searching for his father. He didn't realize he was literally searching for his father, mind. He was shocked to discover that his father was still alive, and on hand for the Fight. No, he entered the Fight because he was destined to enter the fight. It was in his blood. He was Blood of Champion. And not just any Champion. He was the son of the Man With The Blood On His Hands.

That became his name, in the fight. He's not Ray Smuckles any more. He's Son of Rodney. Rodney was a pseudonym. Now Ray was a second generation Pseudonym.

We know... we know Ray is, in the immortal words of Cartilage Head, a coward who would desert a dying man. Or at least he was last September. But if you think about it, part of the Great Outdoor Fight -- a huge part, in fact -- is Ray seeking to better himself. He learned that his father was one of the greatest champions of the Fight, ever. To Ray, that meant he had to find that in himself. He had to reach for it. He had to find the kind of strength and courage that being a Man's Man, in a 70's movie kind of way, would imply.

And let's not kid ourselves. At the start of all this, Ray -- despite his blithe certainty that victory was assured -- was still that coward. Everyone knew it. Envelopé Martinez was willing to cut off his own face rather than admit losing a fight to Ray. (And of course, he didn't actually lose a fight to Ray. He was covering for Ray on behalf of his children.) It took Roast Beef to nudge Ray, to push him forward. To set his fights up for him. To give him hints. But we never got a sense that Ray was actually capable of winning this thing.

Not until Cody Travis. Pushed against the wall, Ray tore his face off. And we all felt a surge. He was the Son of Rodney.

It terrified Ray. It flat out terrified him. This isn't what he expected. This isn't what he wanted. He had blood on his hands, now. Right there, in that panel, we saw the coward. The coward who would desert a dying man. Ray was right back to where he was with Cartilage Head. It took Roast Beef to bring him back. To plant the thought in Ray's head that he might "fugue."

Roast Beef knew Ray, you see. He understood Ray, the same way he understood the Great Outdoor Fight. He knew what Ray needed to tap into. He knew what a champion needed to win.

And he believed in Ray. He knew Ray's weaknesses, but he also understood. He understood what Ray was looking for. He understood that Ray was looking for his father in himself.

Roast Beef can understand that. Roast Beef has floated in darkness, following the death of his own father. Roast Beef knows what it's like to be adrift. To be ready to die.

Ray has always had everything. Beef has always had nothing. But when push came to shove, Beef didn't resent Ray. He loved him. Loved him as a brother. Since small times. And he knew Ray loved him the same way. Loved him in a 70's man's man movie kind of way.

So he faked his own elimination from the Fight, because he knew that Ray would go ballistic. And Ray did. The coward vanished. Ray tore into his enemies. Dozens of them. He turned them into Cowboy Sauce. He didn't hesitate. He didn't fear. He didn't think about being Son of Rodney. He just laid into them.

Look at the very last man Ray took down. Beef gave him the info, like he did from the beginning. But Ray took it from there. Ray took out Rudy Cava.

And then, they met Ray's father. They met the Man With The Blood On His Hands. Rodney Leonard Stubbs. Ramses Luther Smuckles. And his father told Ray and Beef that it truly had to come down to one man. That Ray had to beat Beef savagely to win. Otherwise, the Fight itself would come at them. Would bring out the Jeeps.

And for the first time since they got there, Roast Beef became scared. He couldn't stand the thought of it. Better to be savagely beaten by Ray. Better by far.

Ray spent a long moment as the Coward once more -- a long moment reaching out to find the father who was standing in front of them. Seeking acknowledgment. ("Dad! It's me, Ray! From... from Sondra, you know!") Seeking approval. ("How'd we do, dad? How'd we look?") He had found his father, but not what he felt he needed from his father. He was scared.

And his father told him what he needed to do. What he needed to do to earn his father's respect. He had to beat down Beef. His father would have.

And more to the point? His father would not have challenged the organizers of the Fight. That's not how Rodney rolled.

Ray Smuckles, in September of last year, was a coward who would desert a dying man. He had sought his father and found him. But more to the point, he had sought something in himself. And now, he was confronted with destruction if he didn't do what was expected. Beef, who had guided and encouraged and enabled him, was helpless. Terrified. His father, who was his inspiration, had nothing to help him.

But Ray refused. Fuck those guys! The hell they're gonna say how this Fight is won! Become the ruling body, dude! And he called out the Fight itself. He called out the Jeeps. Beef wouldn't have. His father wouldn't have. But Ray did.

Ray Smuckles found what he was looking for. Not the Son of Rodney. Son of Rodney would have beat down Beef. Ray Smuckles is taking on the Fight itself, rather than be dictated to. For his oldest friend. For his honor. For his sense of self.

It's March. It's the end of the Great Outdoor Fight. And Ray Smuckles will not desert a dying man any more. Win or lose, live or die, he has done what he needed to do.

Well, almost.

See, I believe, now. I believe that he will take down the Jeeps.

But I've seen these movies. And I know it's going to come down to two men. You watch. You watch.

Rodney Leonard Stubbs... the pseudonym... the ideal... and Ray Smuckles. A man who can fight under his own name, now.

We ain't done yet.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at March 21, 2006 1:12 PM

Comments

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 1:55 PM

All right, let me say here that yes, Ray's taking on the Fight itself is a beautiful "ohhh, yeah" moment. You're right there with him. Become the ruling body, dude.

But...

I dunno.

He doesn't know about the Jeeps. Beef knows about the Jeeps. Beef is terrified of the Jeeps. All Ray knows is that when the Jeeps come, PEOPLE DIE. Not just him. Everybody left in the fight. The Jeeps are an Acres-clearing force of destruction.

Beef would have wanted a smackdown. Never in a million years would he have chosen the Jeeps over a smackdown, even a harsh one, from his best friend. But Ray didn't care about that. His peculiar and newfound notions of honor and rightness are, in my opinion, nothing more than a fallback to the old days of cowardice, the old days of Ray. He's putting Beef in danger, deadly danger, just to once again mold the world into the shape he wants it.

It takes a coward to desert a dying man. But sometimes it takes a hero to kick the crap out of your best friend if it means the saving his life.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:10 PM

... but not within the construct of a 70s coming-of-age smackdown movie. In that construct, it's better for the two friends to face danger together, even if they go down, than it is for one to turn on the other... ESPECIALLY if everyone is telling you to that turning on your friend is better than the alternative.

Comment from: HydrogenGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:19 PM

To steal terminology from another enjoyable blog, this strip is one of Achewood's "F@#& Yeah!" moments.

Ray is a James T. Kirk kinda guy. When he doesn't like how things are going, he changes the rules. That's always how Ray's been. This is just bringing it up to the Great Outdoor Fight level.

Ray takin' out the centre jeep - the one poppin' a wheelie - with a flaming bottle of Christian Brothers. F@#& Yeah!

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:34 PM

Just since I accidentally brought it up under Wednesday's Achewood post: Happy first anniversary, Gossamer Commons.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:36 PM

Oh, and I noticed a typo in the post above. "...Ray tore his face off" is improperly capitalized.

Obviously, what you meant to say was, "...Ray TORE HIS FACE OFF."

Comment from: Cornan [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:46 PM

The moment I read the line "Become the ruling body dude!" I wanted you to write about this. It seems to me that that phrase right there IS Ray. The music career and everything else we've seen up to this point is Ray becoming the ruling body in whatever situation he's in. How Ray deals with the world is to become the one who decides what happens and then make it happen the way he wants it to. Ray determines the form of things not because he's a coward who has to have his own way, but because he just assumes that becoming the ruling body is the easiest/best way to get things done.

Whatcha think?

Comment from: Justin Hemmings [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:51 PM

What's interesting to me about the GOF is that Ray is transitioning from being co-dependent on Beef to becoming completely independent. Before, they were two parts of a whole; the brain and the brawn. Beef thought stuff out, pointed Ray in the right direction, and he took care of business. Beef hasn't had to fight at all yet. He's one of the last two standing and, aside from running over a dude's leg pre-fight, hasn't gotten his hands dirty. That's not his job; that's Ray's job.

But now, Ray doesn't NEED Beef like Beef needs Ray. The Jeeps come, and Ray asks for the Christian Brothers. Beef assumes his alcoholic buddy just wants to get sloshed before the pain-convoy arrives, but Ray is in fact now scheming. On Day 1, you'd have expected Beef to figure out the strategy and Ray execute it, but on Day 3 it's all Ray Smuckles. Beef can't even keep up now, because he's terrified, but Ray's cool under pressure, for the first time in a long time (This is the same dude who was afraid of DNA evidence getting him in trouble after making pickles in a motel bed and taking the sheet out and shooting it).

So yes, Ray's coming of age and appears to for the first time proving a real degree of independence. But what's going to happen to his friendship with Beef? When both dudes are co-dependant, all's well. But now Ray's more like Beef's guardian than his best bud. I'm interested to see how their friendship changes/survives the Fight.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 2:56 PM

"It takes a coward to desert a dying man. But sometimes it takes a hero to kick the crap out of your best friend if it means the saving his life."

From what I gather, though, Ray thinks he can win. If he's wrong, then he's stupid and/or insane. If he's right, then it's the right thing to do. Either way, it's the heroic thing to do. It's heroic so long as he thinks he can do it. Stupid and heroic, I'll grant, but no less heroic for being stupid.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 3:21 PM

"If it works, then it ain't so dumb."

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 3:37 PM

He's been having awful dreams of giant apocalyptic machinery just mowing us all down

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 3:56 PM

Oh, that is a beautiful piece of foreshadowing...

Achewood just gets better and better.

Comment from: Ford Dent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:05 PM

In true 70s beat down movie style, Ray and Beef are going to win.

Then, perhaps excited by the prospect of sandwiches, they will make it back home in record time.

A question here: Am I the only one who was not expecting things to go as they've gone? I thought for sure that Ray would take down Beef, but Onstad once again totally faked me out.

Comment from: Remus Shepherd [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:12 PM

I...I *don't like* Achewood.

Everyone's trying to get me to read it, these days. But I don't like the art, the dialogue seems stilted to the point that it's unreadable, and I think the humor is usually pretty lame.

But, see, what you've done here, Eric...I like *this*. This deconstruction of the story into mythic terms. You've distilled out the meat of the story, and explained it, and in the terms you've described it it looks really, really good. So good, in fact, that I committed myself to digging further into the archives today...and I realized, once again, that I just can't dig the comic itself.

But kudos to Onstad for creating such a kick-ass story, even in a form that isn't palatable to everyone. That's an achievement.

Comment from: Thomas Blight [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:31 PM

I figured that Beef would do something that would make Ray beat him down, and just keep getting up until it was enough. He may not be strong in body but the kid's got spirit.

That said, Ray can't lose, even against the jeeps. He's got the hero's spirit now.

Comment from: Meagen Image [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:33 PM

You're not alone, Remus. :)

Let's organise a support group or something...

Comment from: Mr Myth [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:39 PM

I've never been into Achewood. Partly it is the art - the appearance of some of the characters really just doesn't do it for me. Partly it is the pacing I've seen in the bits that I have read, that has thrown me off.

That said, right now it appears the Great Outdoor Fight is unavoidable in the webcomics world. And I've done something I never do - I read that story arc, and just that story arc. I'm the sort of person who has trouble reading only part of a story - if I pick up a book and find it actally painful to read, I keep going. And I never, NEVER start a story in the middle.

But... it's the Great Outdoor Fight. What choice have I?

The hype was enough to get me to read it, and it's own merits (and, admittedly, the nigh constant linkage) were enough to keep me checking up on it.

It's a good story. It's exciting, it's surprising, it's epic.

I don't know if I'll keep up with Achewood after this is over. I don't know if I'll go back through and try and again work through the rest of it.

But for here... for now... it has me.

Until the end, the fight must be watched, after all.

Comment from: Neofly [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:43 PM

So, judging from the last panel of this comic, Rodney is driving one of those jeeps.

I think he will take on Ray and Beef personally, and in that fight, Beef will overcome his fear.

Comment from: toshi.m [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:44 PM

I felt exactly the same, Remus, right up until December. Over Christmas break, I was too sick to move for about a week, all high on cough syrup, staring at the computer screen. And I thought, "I'll give Achewood another try, all my friends have been bugging me about it again." And then I read the entire archive in two days. I guess that's the proper mood to grok Achewood, because in the scant months since it's become one of my favorites. The rhythm of their speech and the purely functional art and the subdued humor make perfect sense to me now.

Not that I recommend getting high on cough syrup as an aid to understanding webcomics, of course...

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:48 PM

To be honest, I'm not fond of Achewood either. I've tried three different times to get into it, but I just couldn't each time. Yeah, the GOF is compelling, but I still get the sense that once it's over, I should just keep moving on.

Comment from: Kail Panille [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 4:49 PM

Remus, I was right there with you until about a week ago. Some time after the FACE OFF incident I decided to read the GOF storyline, and something sorta clicked. So I went back and started from the beginning, and after a false start or two (The Party isn't a very strong start, in relation to what comes later) I was behook'd.

I don't think there's a moral to that story. But I can pretty easily sympathize with both sides of the READ ACHEWOOD!/Uh... why? "debate."

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 5:00 PM

I can almost picture the scene projected in 70's fashion, with faded colors, excessive brightness and lots of dirt.

It just occured to me that Roast Beef must have had a TREMENDOUS amount of confidence in Ray and his own knowledge of the Fight. This is the first time we see his belief in these things shaken.

And 32: If going against the Jeeps is stupid, then the whole Fight thing is stupid too. Except if the prize is like a billion dollars, there is no sane reason for it to exist other than the only 'sane' reason for what Ray's doing: proving yourself to be the Greatest Man (TM). Beef knew (or should have known) that he was risking his life when he entered the thing.

Besides, as soon as the Jeeps were mentioned, the entire situation changed dramatically. Before, Ray and Beef simply owned the Fight; it couldn't be any more right. But when they learn that they are about to be forced (forced!) to brutally fight each other, it ain't right anymore. They make a mockery of the Son of Rodney and the Fight itself.

In the words of his father: "I just beat the asses of three thousand men. The hell you leave me alone."

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 7:12 PM

1. Achewood should get some sort of special achievement award for this epic plot. (Where's the tasty, tasty shortbread?)

2. And it is an epic plot. It has a lot of Illiad and Odessey in it. I'll agree the artwork is rather bad. But the plot and dialogue make up for the artwork.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 7:52 PM

I hope that, when this is over, Onstad will release the Fight storyline in its own book, instead of in a collection. A small hardcover Great Outdoor Fight? Heaven.

And I think that the artwork is a perfect fit for the writing.

Comment from: SpotWeld [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 8:21 PM

It occurs to me to suggest that this webcomic's latest story arc actually has better writing than the last installment of Star Wars.

Comment from: Prodigal [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 8:33 PM

Better than the entire prequel trilogy.

IF that was Ramses grabbing a key, I expect we'll see one of two things: Either Ray has to face his father in the end . . . or we find out that Ramses was driving the middle jeep. Either way, my mind's face is getting torn off.

Comment from: The Matt Who Is [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 8:35 PM

When I read today's Achewood, I knew there'd be a snark on it. It was inevitable because today's strip is just that cool. Beef is great at coloring inside the lines, but fighting Jeeps with your bare hands-- not that Ray hasn't ripped apart cars with his hands before-- is too much for him. They are now outside the lines, and it is Ray's time to shine.

Which means I completely misunderstood Ray and Beef's relationship inside the Fight. Just so that's said.

I agree with MagnoliaPearl. Achewood's art is crude, and taken by itself it wouldn't impress me. However, the characters are wonderfully expressive, and in combination with their dialogue... there's something perfect about how it comes together. Words and pictures are greater than the sum of their parts... which I guess is the basic idea behind comics.

Comment from: Shaenon [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 9:03 PM


Once the Great Outdoor Fight is complete, they should just shut down the Internet. It has served its purpose.

Comment from: HydrogenGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 9:11 PM

Internet Message Board Rule 167:

When discussing topics in X, one or more people will inevitably post about how they don't even like X.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 9:23 PM

Out of Channel a moment.

I knew not shaving was a bad idea. Get the first hint of a beard, and suddenly the entire spacetime continuum goes all wonky. Now I have to decide if I'm the evil doppelgaenger from a parallel universe or that other Doug is. It's only partly reassuring in that I think I was here first.

Just a heads up that there's two Doug's in town. To keep things clear, I'm the better looking one.

No, I don't think we'll be battling to the death in an effort to stave off the other's evil plans of taking over. Unless there's attractive females involved. I think I could work up some serious best out of five armwrestling then.

Comment from: John Bankert [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 9:45 PM

It occurs to me to suggest that this webcomic's latest story arc actually has better writing than the last installment of Star Wars.

The label on a can of campbell's soup has better writing that the last Star Wars movie.

Comment from: tfinniga [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 10:48 PM

Well, there were 5 keys, which means that there are likely 5 Jeeps. We saw two of the keys taken, one of them by what looked Rodney/Ramses's arm. My wild prediction is that Beef's Dad is the other one who took a key in that frame, and the people who took the three keys are the ones in the Jeeps (that will be destroyed). The search for a father yields results for Beef and Ray.

I feel so pathetic though.. I want more of this story so much I periodically go back and read the latest comic, or come here and see if there are any new postings.. I guess I'm just couldn't say no to Onstad. Now I'm hooked so bad.

Comment from: Mike Russell [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 11:05 PM

I'm going to take what seems to be a devil's-advocate position around here and argue that -- his considerable writing chops aside -- Chris Onstad is actually a much better visualist than people give him credit for.

Yes, the linework breaks down under analysis. Yes, he has an amusing aversion to drawing hands and feet. Faces aren't terribly expressive. Movement can be wooden (though, to be fair, we're often dealing with talking dolls, and I think the strip's Colorforms quality is a deliberate choice). But in larger strokes, Onstad has mastered some key visual aspects of cartooning:

His framing is impeccable. Look at that widescreen panel with the three Jeeps on one side, counterbalanced by a crane. It's logo-design gorgeous. I want it wrapping in a thin band across my sky-blue Ocean Pacific t-shirt circa 1983. Looking across all his comics, I've seen him consistently hit the bullseye in the way he places things in a frame, and he's surprisingly discreet about it.

He's incredibly confident about showing just enough movement and information to suggest character and action. The restraint of his line is often mistaken for crudity, but I'd argue it's deliberate minimalism. One of my favorite examples is in the strip where Ray prank-calls Cathy and discreetly disrobes. A little shrug suggests a lot in Achewood. (He's into it. He's going all Method on his prank call. He's especially sadistic.) The minimalism of the GOF compound -- with its emphasis on sky -- is epic, hilarious, and deeply beautiful.

Like altogether too many people, I just read the entire "Achewood" archives in about three days. I just went through the same journey with Onstad that I went through with "Scary Go Round": I read it a few times and didn't quite feel the rhythms (because rhythm is where all the humor is in "Achewood," like in a Wes Anderson film) -- but then I tried on a story arc for size, and I wanted to hang out with these characters like they were the cast of "Rio Bravo." This really is the first webcomic I've read since Allison to really hit that hard-to-find Private Geek Button repeatedly. And I'd actually argue the Great Outdoor Fight storyline represents a high-water mark for webcomics as a whole. It's one of the few times I've seen the whole package in one strip: themes, character, surprises, a sense of the epic, and actual well-earned laughs. And -- and this is the hard part -- bona fide suspense.

Sorry for the gush. Seemed like a nice way to debut as a Websnark commenter. Love the site.

Comment from: Mike Russell [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 21, 2006 11:14 PM

Oh, and one other thing I love about "Achewood": the sort of Bob-and-Bing dynamic of Ray and Beef. And God help me, too many comic strips star self-loathing avatars of the artist: It's nice to see a damn winner leading the ensemble for a change.

Comment from: WestRider [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 1:28 AM

Another thing on Beef getting freaked out by the Jeeps. He's based his entire strategy, as far as I can tell, on things that other Champions have done before.

The most blatant example of this was the move at the start for the NE corner, just like on the map of Rodney's victory, but there have been other suggestions towards this, and nothing to contradict this.

In fact (thinking as I go, here) in general, I think he's a refiner, not a creator. When someone else comes up with a basic concept, Beef can hone it into its finest form, but when faced with something completely unprecedented, he kinda falls apart.

Comes from being a tech guy, the kind of guy who actually reads the manual before messing around with something.

It gets worse here. There is a precedent in this situation, and it says "At this point, you die." Everything in the manual says this is a no-win, you're screwed situation, and Beef doesn't know anything except the manual.

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 2:25 AM

I think you've got it exactly right, WestRider. Beef's entire history is, well, the past. Not just in the Great Outdoor Fight, but in the entire run of Achewood. His humble, tragic past informs his character in its entirety. Even planning for the future, Beef can't do much better than replicate the past.

Whereas Ray lives entirely in the present. The past has never really been a big deal for him - while he puts a lot of stock in his friendship with Beef, in most endeavors he attempts, he just finishes it or abandons it and moves on. Forethought is not a strong suit of his - in fact, if forethought were a suit in a game of bridge, Ray would probably be void from trick one. He's relied on Beef for the planning, because he can't think ahead for more than five or ten minutes, and maybe not even that. (Note that he didn't seem to work out the idea with the brandy molotov until he was directly faced with the Jeeps - anyone with a modicum of planning would have tried to work out how to face down the Jeeps before calling them out.)

And so we get Ray rushing headlong into a confrontation with the Jeeps, flying by the seat of his pants, and always surviving with the aforementioned perfect movie timing.

Comment from: Moony [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 3:27 AM

I think Ray realized that even if he DID attempt to beat on Beef that it would never have been convincing...and they both would have been killed anyway. And he'd die knowing he turned on Beef...and so would Beef.

But by this point, Ray KNOWS he can do this, fugue or not - there's no more reason for cowardice. Even if it comes down to facing his own father.

And put me down as another one of those who's now hooked, at least for the rest of this story! :D

Comment from: Doc [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 4:29 AM

I noticed someone up above referred to 'The Party' as the first achewood storyline, I just wanted to clarify: While this is the first storyline that is listed on the first page the comics actually go much further back and are well worth a look, particularly since they tend to be once off gags as the characters developed. Just wanted to make sure everyone was getting every opportunity to feel the Ache.

Oh and regarding the 'Stad's art I believe he mentioned in a couple of interviews that he used to be a technical artist (or something similar) and I think this informs his work a bit, things tend towards their purest, almost iconic, representation.

Comment from: MelSkunk [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 9:06 AM

First off, I don't think Achewood is or should be for everyone. Even this story, while it's leaving me with this amazing "Hells yah!" feeling at every turn, it's just not really everyone's story.

I find this story, while built strongly on the classic Onstad characterizations, is just so totally beyond what he normally delivers for pacing and emotional content at this point as to be a really POOR introduction. It may be his masterwork to date, but I really don't know if a lot of people who are reading this for the GOF are going to want to stick around. Then again, in a lot of ways, it's the best example of everything for Achewood, his low key humour, his pacing, the big chunks of non-dialogue and the pity dialogue together.

Out of curiosity, I'm seeing a lot of people who just kinda got into Achewood at one point. What storyline did it for folks? I know the "Philippe is Kidnapped" one just took the top of my head off when I read it.

Comment from: Abby L. [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 1:00 PM

The one shots got me interested, personally. I just loved seeing Philippe scarred in the "saddest thing ever" bits, and they got posted on SA so much that I just felt I should read it. Suddenly I'm following it. S'weird.

Comment from: SeekingTruth [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 1:04 PM

I'm very much with the crowd that's loving this story, but can't quite get into Achewood in general.

It's so EPIC. When the vast majority of the comics I've trudged through in the archives are mostly whimsical. There are moments of tension, sure, but dude. Great Outdoor Fight. This is Ray and RB against the world; not just the world, but its myths, legends and fables. When Ray pulls this off, and there's little doubt he will, his world changes FOREVER. He may still be the same person, deep down, and this display of sheer animal fury be fueled by his very flaws and faults, he may owe anything and everything to RB's strategies... but he's become a legend in his own right. Wins the Fight, and does the one thing no one else even dreams is possible.

Characters grow and get closer. Flaws and failures are highlighted and addressed, but not necessarily solved. Deific powers are challenged, their very status questioned. Traditions are turned upsidedown. Men (well... yea) fight, and men die. Underdogs rise to the top. Heros of yesterday are ripped from their pedastal. A son, seeking recognition from the untouchable ideal of his father, ultimately rejects it in favor of his own beliefs, finding justification from within.

Two men survive. The Fight says one must fall. They disagree. Can only one man survive the Great Outdoor Fight?

Comment from: Christian [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 1:56 PM

Neofly noticed the same thing I did, though drew a different conclusion). This gives a new meaning (and foreshadowing irony) to Ray shouting, "Become the ruling body, dude!", as Rodney driving one of the Jeeps indicates that he himself is part of the Ruling Body. This is not simply about Ray finding himself, it's a path laid out by his father for an ascension to the family throne (otherwise, one is forced to conclude that Rodney would have no compunction about killing his own son). Of course, whether or not Ray is willing to take his father's place is another question entirely...

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 2:05 PM

Also, note that the balance of power between Ray and Roast Beef has shifted during the Fight. At the beginning, Beef had all the plans and made all the decisions. But now, Ray's in the driver's seat, literally.

Comment from: Bequita [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 2:36 PM

Actually, Monty, Wednesday said it best in her first snark on The Great Outdoor Fight:
"Beef is driving. It's the way of things."

I just read today's Achewood, and it just occurred to me that they've gone full circle. Beef is driving again. Ray may be in charge now, but Beef is still driving.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 2:43 PM

Beef is still driving.

Cuz Ray told him to.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 22, 2006 3:27 PM

Phooey. A perfectly good line ruined.

Comment from: Benor [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 12:16 AM

I think the weirdest thing I've ever done relating to webcomics yet was to analyze why the Great Outdoor Fight story, as it's been done, couldn't take place in any kind of movie but a late 70s buddy movie. Because when other people mentioned that as the setting, I started to think about why it wouludn't have worked in the early 70s, any part of the 80s, or any part of the 90s.

Is this what shame feels like?

Comment from: Padre [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 4:47 AM

New comic is up...

Comment from: Kail Panille [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 7:57 AM

Indeed it is.

GO BEEF!

Comment from: Johnny Catbird [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 8:17 AM

It's funny -- the thought of Beef being proficient in using a handgun didn't surprise me one bit. That's like a thing I just expected him to know, but never talk about.

Oh, and this is so setting up Beef randomly getting shot.

(keep in mind my percentage of predicting what happens next is close to 0%)

Comment from: Kirath [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 8:19 AM

Turns out Beef is a pretty impressive shot with a pistol...

but then, of course, that fits right in with the whole movie idea, doesn't it?

I belong in the 'long-time Achewood readers' category myself, and I am absolutely loving this.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 9:46 AM

I wonder if this will destroy the Great Outdoor Fight for good...

If it does I will be kind of sad.

Also, imagine if a human came across the Fight? Wouldn't it be wierd to see three thousand cats just totally going at it in some fenced-in yard? PETA would collapse on itself.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 5:39 PM

"The middle vechile in a convoy shot must ALWAYS be doing a wheelie."

How true.

I would imagine this would be even more interesting while sipping on a glass of scotch.

Comment from: Dan Severn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 23, 2006 11:40 PM

I think this is a great time to re-read the achewood archives.

Comment from: Taybin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 27, 2006 8:47 PM

Now, I love achewood, but I prefer the quiet ones that are character driven. Now, I'm certainly enjoying the GOF, and I'm eager to see what happens next each day, but I think it's a little too plot driven.

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