Saturday, September 19, 2009

Achewood Volume 2: Worst Song Played on Ugliest Guitar (2009)

It is no secret that I love Achewood. I even stood in line at a comic store for a few hours one night just to get Chris Onstad to sign a couple books and have a bit of interaction time. Part of the fun of the Achewood universe is how much it has grown and evolved over the past eight (!) years -- and although the characters are much more detailed, the plot lines much more complicated, and the themes much more nuanced, I still love the early strips where Onstad and his gaggle of characters were doing one-off gags and finding their voices.

Achewood Volume 2: Worst Song Played on Ugliest Guitar (2009) is the second Achewood collection to be published by Dark Horse books (after The Great Outdoor Fight). Like The Great Outdoor Fight, Worst Song Played on Ugliest Guitar is beautifully designed and produced -- nice paper, nice colors, fun to hold and read. It is, in fact, pretty great to read a comic that you usually see on screen in a professionally produced hardcover form...

Onstad includes the alt text that usually pops up when you hover your mouse over the comics online as italic notes after each comic, which is a nice cross-over from the electronic to print world. He also annotates most of the strips in the book with his observations -- these are sometimes pretty interesting or funny, but too often they devolve into self-depreciating knocks at himself and the early days of the comics. In those cases, it might have been best to just let the comics speak for themselves.

The best part of the book for fans of Achewood are the lengthy "origin" stories for Phillipe, Mr. Bear, Teodor, and Lyle. Onstad shines in a short story format, and these narratives don't disappoint.

This is a book that every fan of Achewood should own, but probably isn't the best introduction to the strip for newcomers. Luckily everything is still available in the Achewood archives, so just start yourself at strip number one, and work your way through eight years of awesomeness...

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