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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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