I’ve seen a lot of folks recommend the online comic Achewood by Chris Onstad so I thought I’d give it a try.

Some twenty strips later and…why do I want to read this again? I don’t find the drawing at all interesting or compelling. I’m not in principle opposed to the amorphous mammal-blob school of cutesy drawing (I like Jay Ryan) but Onstad seems determined to do it in as boring a way as possible. His linework is blankly unvaried; he does nothing composition wise; the expressions are so repetitive that it makes his work look like clip-art. It reminds me of Dilbert…though I may actually like Dilbert better. Those strips are really viscerally ugly; Achewood doesn’t even manage that. It’s just boring. And holy crap is the bland computer font for the lettering annoying.

And, yeah, the gags don’t do anything for me either. This one, for example, got a lot of positive comments:


So getting drunk is funny. That’s brilliant, I guess. And being mistaken for gay is really funny too. And poignant. Don’t forget poignant.

Or there’s:this


Sorry, but “Sex Funeral” is a pretty piss-poor band name (the real band the Crucifucks is, for example, in the same vein except it’s actually clever.)

I think part of the appeal is supposed to be the not-funniness of it; the lameness of the jokes is itself a joke, in that ironic we’re-hipper-than-humor way. For non-humor humor to work, though, it needs to be weirder, and, yes, more earnest. Charles Schulz for example; Spike standing in front of a giant waterfall, for example, or Sally declaring she will triumph over her lazy eye; those are funny because there’s really nothing nothing nothing going on; they’re completely flat and ridiculous and at a 90 degree angle to what would usually be considered amusing. This stuff — drunkenness and dumb band names — it’s basic class clown boilerplate. It’s not unusual or unexpected to hear someone try to pass that off as a joke; it’s the sort of thing you’d hear at an amateur stand-up night. And, indeed, Onstad’s stuff in general reminds me of mediocre stand-up; mild smut, mild shock value, lame cultural references (let’s make fun of Flavor Flav!) — it’s really tedious.

Dirk says I’ve got to read six months of archived Achewood strips if I’m going to love it. Alas, I’ve got to get *a lot* more enjoyment out of individual strips if I’m going to read a book’s worth of this crap. In fact, so far, the magic seems to be working in reverse; the more strips I look at the more it pisses me off.

Update:..and that’s Onstad, not Onstaad. Corrected now. Duh.

Update 2: I’d urge folks to scroll down through comments. Tucker Stone and Bill Randall offer much more educated takes on the strip, and several others point out some of their favorite moments. All of which allows my loathing to take on a more complex, more meaningful shape….