I.. Am… Ruuude!

[[image:vs080921_gof_cover.jpg:Great Outdoor Fight by Chis Onstad:center:0]] 

Man, why I even got to describe a thing?  Achewood is a webcomic that has been on the internet since 2001, and primarily focuses on the relationship between two cats, Ray and Roast Beef.  There are many other supporting characters, including a naive young otter, lying robots, and a serial murderer, but Ray and Roast Beef are the main characters.  The comic itself separates itself from the overabundance of crappy webcomics through its intense originality and the scope of its universe.  The characters in the webcomic maintain blogs, write zines, novels, and cookbooks, and run an in-universe forum.  The comic’s humor does turn some people off by ignoring standard concepts (like punchlines) and by crossing the line into complete surreality more than a few times.

The comic has seen its share of long-running storylines which have become legendary among fans.  There’s a menu bar on the comic’s main page where you can jump to the start of sequential comics such as "The Volvo of Dispair" or "Magical Realism", but one of the most popular and talked about storylines in the comic’s history is "The Great Outdoor Fight", which is now collected in a hardbound volume by Dark House books.  In the Achewood universe, The Great Outdoor Fight is an annual event where 3000 people get together to fight it out over three days until only one remains.  Ray learns his absent father won the GOF (as it’s frequently referred to in the strip) under a psuedonym and decides that as "BOC" (blood-of-champion) it’s his duty to enter the fight, despite being not at all fit for that kind of thing.  His friend Roast Beef, a longtime fan and expert in GOF lore, tags along with him to check out the fight and mastermind Ray’s strategy.

[[image:vs080921_gof_rude_copy1.jpg:Great Outdoor Fight by Chris Onstad:center:0]] 

Of course, all of the strips in the storyline are available to read for free on the internet, so why would you want to buy something that takes something from the internet era and repurposes in an obsolete format like this was the 1990s or something?  For a fan like me, it’s because I want to support the comic, because I want to have something physical to hold from one of the touchstones of my life, and because of the extra content.  The Great Outdoor Fight collection includes a "deleted scene" and tons of contextual backstory. Onstad wrote short biographies for all the notable previous winners of the Great Outdoor Fight, includes a glossary of GOF slang, and the requisite recipes.

Even if you don’t grab the book, I highly encourage everyone to check out the website and read the story line there.  I apologize in advance for the hours you’ll then lose catching up on the seven years of strips archived within.

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