I seriously thought about starting and ending this review by simply stating that Achewood is like Winnie the Pooh on anti-depressant laced crack. Fin.
Then I changed my mind.
The comparison, oddly enough, is rather apt. The characters of Achewood do have a very "based on stuffed animals" kind of charm, and if the About section is in any way indicative of reality, they are. Of course, in this version Pooh only wears bling and a thong and piglet is some sort of... I don't know... otter perhaps? Okay, the art isn't stellar. No one cares. We read Achewood because it's seriously crazy funny. Also, it's amazingly educational - did you know that you're presented with a 1982 Subaru Brat when you enter hell? That shit has got to be important.
Unfortunately for stressed out reviewers, Achewood doesn't exactly present itself in such a way that you can outline the content in four or five neat paragraphs. Though there are clear plot lines, there's also this callous and unrelenting disregard for sanity. In the midst of a storyline regarding Philippe's bid for the presidency, for example, Ray finds a talking shoe with a dysfunctional family and a penchant for stocks. I mean, damn... the whole storyline was wacky hilarity, but how do you summarize that? Clearly, there's just no point in trying.
Achewood has been running for nearly 6 years now, having launched October 1st of 2001. Though there doesn't seem to be a firm update schedule, a new comic does appear 3-5 times a week and an RSS feed is available for instant update notification. Actually, there are a number of things available: Dork Resources, Desktops, Pictures of girls in underwear winning contests having nothing to do with Achewood, character blogs, Radio Achewood, a huge and varied store, the ability to purchase a signed print of any comic... you name it, Achewood's got it. One of my favorite extra features is the Current Toddler Status in which creator Chris Onstad posts various parental observations. Achewood also sports a subscription only version which promises a "huge archive of rare, multi-format Achewood content", but I'm poor so I have absolutely no idea what that might look like. Actually, the subscription is only $12 so I'm apparently more lazy than poor. It's important to note, however, that it's not a lack of love for the comic that has keep me from subscribing and I'm sure I will at some point. If for no other reason, I'll do it to get my hands on the entire Nate Small novella. There's no reason for Beef to keep those goods to himself.
I have one last thing to say for Achewood. It's fucking addictive. This review took me 4 hours to write. 4 fucking hours. It's not even a good review. It's aimless and rambling. It is, however, well researched. Yes - you got a crappy review because I spent 4 hours reading through the archives. Archives I've already read. Twice.
If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.