Achewood, Language & Realism in the Face of Absurdity

Unarguably one of the best comics of the past 15 years, Achewood* continues to gain new fans and maintain undiminished luster, despite having not produced a regular story since about 2012. Chris Onstad started Achewood* at the cusp of the modern internet era, and produced what is one of the medium’s first masterpieces.
If you haven’t ever read it, do. so. right. now.

But, when you do, don’t rush and expect to be wowed at first. Achewood* is a strange and complex world. Not only does the comic go in wild and varied directions, but it has a language all its own. Onstad put lots of work in differentiating his cast, not just through design and antics, but by giving each a distinct and believable cadence to their speech–among many other elements. What might come across as lazy tics in a less well rounded world, elevate and illustrate deep backgrounds and inner lives for the cast.  The characters feel like they’ve been around for decades, and founded friendships as real and complicated as any persons; because of that, as the strip goes on, it feels like they’re still growing.

I recently found this article by Max Robinson, on Deadshirt, who also has some keen observations about Achewood* and Onstad’s use of speech. I recommend reading it.



*Each of these links will take you to a random Achewood link, use them as jumping off points for exploring.


About OneWordLong

I'm a storytelling artist and writer. I make collage, transmedia art projects, write essays and cultural analysis. In addition to I also co-curate
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