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    depression in comics (part two)

    Way back when, I promised a second post on "Depression in Comics," and then I got busy with traveling and the Blog-A-Thon, and it fell by the wayside.

    So my second entrant in the series is not from the world of superhero comics but rather from the webcomics underground: specifically the comic Achewood. Achewood takes place in a fairly absurd universe, but creator Chris Onstad has used the recurring character of "Roast Beef" to do one of the most long-running investigations of depression that comics has to offer. [Beaten out only by Grand Prize Winner Charlie Brown?]

    Here's Roast Beef in the early days, back in this strip from 2002:

    And here's Roast Beef from this week, as he looks through an issue of Martha Stewart Weddings:

    Roast Beef is really the character who got me hooked on Achewood, so it is only proper that he gets a shout out here, as we continue with our Raccoon Salute To: Depression In Comics!

    This is a three-part series, but the third part will be a while in coming, for two reasons: one, I have to track down a copy of the graphic novel in question, and two, I am currently over 1,000 miles from my scanner.

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    Saturday, May 31, 2008
    12:37 PM


    Nice. Achewood is so much better than it has any right to be based on its premise. Despite the surrealism and the talking animals (both real and stuffed), Onstad creates very fully developed characters and some surprisingly affecting storylines. And every once in a while there's a sequence of startling originality and weird beauty, like the utterly puzzling, silent-movie horror of the "Cartilage Head" storyline. And you're right, Roast Beef is one of the best characters -- the strip was pretty funny even in its earliest stories, but it really came into its own when it introduced Ray, Pat, and Beef, and especially when Beef began to become a more developed and complex character. What a great comic.
    I totally agree with you about the power of the strip's odd forays into unsettling territory (horror?). And one other thing worth mentioning here is that even though Onstad clearly feels affection for these characters, he also seems quite almost perversely willing to elicit laughs from their various miseries (it is worth nothing that "Did you know that I want to commit suicide," above, is the *punchline* to that strip).

    Or, say, this one as an alternate example.
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