"A momentary diversion on the road to the grave"

Achewood is a comic strip created by Chris Onstad, and starring a collection of stuffed toys, animals, and robots.

The art is simple but effective, and the stories and dialogue are a peculiar mixture of antiquated and modern style, rather as though Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey and the cast of Diesel Sweeties had had a child together.

The cast includes:

  • Teodor, Lyle and Mr. Bear (teddy bears)
  • Philippe (a toy otter)
  • Ray Smuckles, Pat, and Roast Beef (cats)
  • Todd and Blister (squirrels, respectively live and dead)
  • Lie Bot, Chucklebot, and Vlad (robots)

Fan favourites are the naive and cute Philippe, and the depressed and suicidal Roast Beef.

Achewood is currently online at: http://www.achewood.com

Quotes:

  • HERE COMES A SPECIAL BOY
  • WHOO! I am DEFINITELY not afraid of the fucking POLICE right now!
  • Huuugs!
  • Why, oh why did someone have to screw a monkey?
  • I love speaking English very much! I love it a thousand times!
  • I was like BONE... BONE... BONE...
  • Did you not hear, Lie Bot? Chucklebot is gay! He totally makes out with dudes now!
  • i've been having real awful dreams about giant apocalyptic machinery just mowing us all down.

Man, why I even got to do a thing?

A bit of background

The fictional town of Achewood is home to these anthropomorphic teddy bears, cats, robots and other assorted beings:

At the comic's beginning in late 2001, the characters Téodor Orezscu, Philippe, Lyle Roscoe Gabriel and Mr. Cornelius Bear lived at Chris Onstad's house in Achewood, California. Philippe is five years old, and as a result, is very naïve and gullible, but reasonably chirpy and upbeat. The sophisticated Cornelius (yes, I will call him Cornelius and not Mr. Bear here, to avoid ambiguity) and the reasonably "normal" Téodor are guardian figures towards Philippe, although the latter has been influenced by Lie Bot, a robot also introduced early and, as the name implies, loves telling lies. Lyle is a boozer who is friend of Todd T. Squirrel, a foul-mouthed squirrel with a slight stutter.

As the strip progressed, notably with the first story arc entitled "The Party", several new characters emerged. Raymond Quentin Smuckles, a thong-and-designer-glasses-wearing cat, eventually became the comic's central character. Ray's best friend is Cassandra "Roast Beef" Kazenzakis, a cat with chronic depression and the secondary character. The antagonist is Pat Reynolds, a cat with a perpetually angry disposition. The trio of cats used to hang out in a group when they were introduced in 2002.

During "The Party", several other new characters found their way into the strip, including the robot with a Russian accent, Vlad. Beef's girlfriend, then wife, is Molly Sanders, who came down from Heaven (literally). Todd's best friend, apart from Lyle, is a dead squirrel called Blister. Ray's nephew is called, rather appropriately, Charley "Little Nephew" Smuckles. This is not to mention other on-and-off characters such as Ultra Peanut, Nice Pete, Emeril, Chucklebot, Showbiz, Andy, Tina, Philippe's mom, Cartilage Head, Arthur, Onstad's feet...

Things I like about Achewood

The comics are minimalistic in style, mainly featuring black-and-white drawings and lettering. However, what I find clever is the different styles of dialogue that some characters employ: aside from, for example, Vlad's Russian accent, some of the characters have their own way of speaking that can only be reflected in text: for example, Roast Beef's text is slightly smaller than usual, and contains no full stops or commas (but occasionally exclamation points and question marks) "Oh that's right well uh you got to promise to toss away any pics you got of me"; Nice Pete does much the same, but with normal-sized text. This sort of style is possibly to reflect Beef's depression, for example.

There is no death in Achewood. Characters don't suddenly get killed off, and if they do, it's rarely ever shown on screen (except notably the several times that Beef is shot). If characters "die", they are given brief stints in an imagined version of Heaven or Hell, from which they can easily escape; this is how Beef met Molly. This allows for more character development instead of just abruptly erasing them from existence.

The comic is on a range of subjects, but rarely touches on current affairs or politics. While I love political satire, this really isn't the kind of comic that political satire would find a home at. (I can see it now: Beef vs. Téodor for President of Achewood. Not good.) Onstad does a good job at avoiding that kind of thing, referencing politics very rarely, when Philippe and Ray decide to run for President of the United States (in separate story arcs). Sometimes you need a break from political satire.

It's technically for over-18s because of mature content, but there's not an overbearing amount. Not safe for kiddies, but safe for teenagers. To an extent, of course. Anyway, it doesn't constantly say "Fuck the fucking fuckers", although there has been the occasional "Fuck You Friday". There's a tad bit of nudity, but again, it's cartoonish and not overbearing (such as when Lie Bot shows everyone his ass). In addition, it's in context.

Where you can find it

http://www.achewood.com (duh)

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