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Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight Hardcover – September 30, 2008

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This handsome hardcover compilation of the popular Web comic Achewood follows the strip's most epic story arc and should win many new fans. When Ray Smuckles, a thong-clad anthropomorphic cat, discovers his father was a champion of the Great Outdoor Fight, a yearly competition held in Bakersfield, Calif., he decides to enter the nearly ruleless three-day fight. Ray's best friend, nicknamed Roast Beef, reveals himself to be an expert on the fight as well as a first-time entrant. Ray quickly finds that his soft life as a pencil-neck may not have prepared him for the brutal, masculine violence the 3,000-man fight promises, but stubbornly aims to win anyway, with Roast Beef as his ally and steadfast supporter. The humor works on many levels—from the absurd, unexpected characters, including a Soviet robot, to their quirky speech patterns. Onstad's minimalist art leaves some of the larger action sequences taking place off-camera. Nevertheless, the narrative shines through as an epic battle rages and friendship between the protagonists deepens. Achewood devotees who know the story line will be pleased with the bonuses: long supplemental texts detailing the history of the fight and seven recipes from a fictional cookbook. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

At last, Onstad’s abidingly odd, paralyzingly funny Web-based Achewood achieves U.S. book publication! Earlier collections haven’t made it out of Britain, so here’s hoping this one breaches the barriers of homeland resistance. May be a close thing, though, for this long arc framed by patches of deadpan sportswriting parody is a tad reserved for Achewood. The setup: since 1923, manly men have met in a California field to duke it out to the last guy standing in the annual Great Outdoor Fight. Naturally, Achewood main man (dog, actually) Ray, the millionaire wheeler-dealer, must go for the gold—so to speak, for the GOF bestows no medal, plaque, or prize money for ultimate verticality. But other real men know. Of course, Ray’s right-hand pooch, Roast Beef, anticipatorily bones up on GOF history and designs a winning strategy. The outcome this year is foregone. Onstad’s bare-bones artwork is arguably less expressive than the clip-art David Rees uses for Get Your War On, but it’s a perfect fit for Achewood’s outrageously crass but hip humor. --Ray Olson


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593079974
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593079970
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Onstad officially wrote this biography of himself. He is a man who lives in Portland, Oregon, and is married to a local woman. They have a child, who is upstairs right now.

Chris has two books for sale through Amazon, and nearly twenty more in his shop at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There aren't many times -- at least not since childhood -- when I've unpacked a book and immediately run off to sit down and read it through end to end. But that's what I did with "The Great Outdoor Fight" and it was worth it. There's a bit of a retro thing in reading what began life as a webcomic in a print medium, but for an extended storyline like this one, a book strikes me as just the right format. It gives the reader the chance to really get into the action without having to hit "Next" every few frames, and to pick up, not only on the humor, but also what is in fact quite a good storyline.

Achewood's artwork is not as complex as that you'll find in many webcomics or graphic novels, and sure, it might be interesting to see how Frank Miller, say, would tell the story of the GOF. But Onstad is no slouch with a pen and his relatively minimalist style is a big part of setting the tone for the story. Where I think he really shines, though, is less in the art than in the characters he's created. I particularly enjoy Roast Beef's distinctive turn of phrase (describing information he's known since childhood, for example, as "Dogg it is brain tape since young times"), and the friendship between Beef and Ray that is the cornerstone of this story (and with apologies to an earlier reviewer, by the way, Beef and Ray are anthropomorphic cats, not dogs). Most other regular characters have cameo appearances, including a very entertaining few panels where Cornelius Bear, my favorite character and himself no slouch in the toughness department, having won the first annual Bad*ss Games in a walk, silently locks his trumpet in its case after Lyle makes a comment that cannot be reprinted in an Amazon review.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Achewood for many years and when the author announced that Dark Horse was publishing a hardcover edition of his greatest and most epic storyline, I preordered it immediately. Upon reading it, I find myself both completely satisfied and pleasantly suprised.

One of the biggest differences between reading this story on paper versus online is the lack of the "alt text". Alt text, on the webcomic, is a small blurb that is hidden blurb of text within the comic that is usually very funny and comments on each strip. Without the constant humorous commentary, the tone of the story changes. It becomes more serious, the danger feels more urgent. The tonal change helps highlight the fact that while the story that frames it is humorous, the Great Outdoor Fight itself is deadly serious. It is a true test of what a man is, and Roast Beef and Ray's journey through it becomes that much more powerful.

Now while the feeling of the story is more serious and dire, the dialogue and characters are still gut-bustingly hilarious. Ray and Roast Beef's banter, the interplay between their friends who follow the fight from afar, the entire pre-fight part of the story.

The other surprise was the relative seriousness of the prose sections that bookend the story (with the exception of the Recipe section, that was not serious by a longshot). They mostly served to further the legend of the Fight and really fleshed out some of its backstory.

All in all, The Great Outdoor fight is a fantastic story of two friends taking on the world and this is an excellent presentation. It is a very different experience from reading the story online, which makes it's purchase all the more worth it. It is a must have for all Achewood fans, and I hope a good introduction to new readers.

I highly recommend it to anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Century Jim Nate on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've read this story online but it plays excellently on the page and the action-packed finale to the fight seems completely different. The extras are a lot of fun, especially the recipes ("Dinosaur" Potato Chuds!). Terrific value for money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Great Outdoor Fight by Chris Onstad is deceptively sophisticated and very funny. A sort of "special edition" version of a storyline from his webcomic Achewood, the book is a treat for fans of the online strip and those who've never heard of it (I fell into the latter category). Ignorant of what I was in for, I began with the book's two introductory text pieces that discuss the history and cultural significance of the Great Outdoor Fight--a strange competition with its origins in two intoxicants: cheap wine and California.

Strange as it is in its depiction, the GOF is written about with such conviction that I actually believed it was real. As such, I was completely unprepared for the anthropomorphic animals talking about "trucknutz" knock-offs that greeted me on the first page of the book's actual story. Things get stranger from here.

What proceeds is one character's quest to follow in his father's footsteps as the top dog in this year's Great Outdoor Fight, which will include lots of scheming, plotting, and violent beatings. Don't be fooled by the simple drawings; if it were a movie, this book would be rated a hard PG-13 or a light R.

Even still, appropriateness aside, the book is extremely funny and often had me laughing out loud with glee. The strength of The Great Outdoor Fight is its ability to completely and utterly undercut all seriousness, be it the sudden and shocking violence with which the characters fight at the end of the book or the idea behind the fight itself. The characters elevate the concept of the Great Outdoor fight to mythic, almost religious proportions and proceed to celebrate its glory in the most absurd ways.
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