141: Parody Week: Achewood
|Parody Week: Achewood
Title text: I always wanted to impress them with how well I could hear, didn't you? Also, this sets the record for number of awkward-pause panels in one strip (previously held by Achewood)
This comic is a part of the Parody Week, just joking about other webcomics. This series was released on five consecutive days (Monday-Friday), not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, and it comprises the following five parodies:
- 141: Parody Week: Achewood
- 142: Parody Week: Megatokyo
- 143: Parody Week: TFD and Natalie Dee
- 144: Parody Week: A Softer World
- 145: Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics
Achewood is a webcomic by Chris Onstad. It portrays the lives of a group of anthropomorphic stuffed toys, robots, and pets, and veers between cheerful, vulgar, and philosophical scenes from everyday American life and bizarre surreal interludes - Kevin Smith meets David Lynch. The comic's humor often lacks a traditional punchline and utilizes numerous awkward pause panels.
In the first panel, Phillippe is dreaming of having his ears checked. The doctor informs him that because of his superhearing power, he is needed at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from Harry Potter. This fits well with his canon depiction as a dreamer who believes typically childish things in a serious way - a long-running storyline shows Philippe's semi-imaginary run for president on a platform of hugs. On the wall behind him, there is an E chart - a special version of the eye chart for young children.
The comic then switches to Roast Beef and Ray discussing an invitation to a competition described only by its name ("The Dude Is Pretty Awesome In Most Measurable Ways I Mean Wow", reminiscent of the name of Roast Beef's zine "Man Why You Even Got To Do A Thing"). Achewood has had several storylines pertaining to masculinity contests, but the one that Randall is parodying here is the "Great Outdoor Fight," perhaps Achewood's most famous storyline. In this arc, Ray, finding himself in the shadow of his father, the ludicrously strong Ramses Luther Smuckles, decides to enter a 3,000-man brawl called the "Great Outdoor Fight." Although he is nowhere near as strong as the other contestants, after they all kill each other, he is the last man standing, thanks to the help of Roast Beef, and quits the contest when he realizes that he would have to knock his friend out to win.
Ray, who in Achewood typically just wears a thong, glasses, and jewellery as shown here, has a strategy of simply highlighting his genitals. Roast Beef, always a pessimist who speaks without punctuation, offers his take on the competition: Ray is going to lose to the other, significantly more impressive, contestants.
In canon, Roast Beef entered (or at least, hacked himself into) the Great Outdoor Fight specifically to ensure that Ray would win, and was shocked that Ray refused to knock him out. Randall offers an alternative characterization: Roast Beef was setting Ray up and planned to knock him out and claim the trophy, but couldn't complete his plan. Ray is dismayed, and Roast Beef proceeds to further shut him down, comparing Ray (a "McD's" hamburger) to the other competitors (a 12 oz. sirloin steak). This leads to a lengthy awkward pause, spanning the rest of the comic.
The comic is written in the style of Onstad and his humor. The last 10 panels are "awkward-pause panels," which are used frequently in Achewood, in what appears to be a joke about overuse of dialogue-free panels (there are 11 of these, but the first is a shock panel, then the pause begins). This joke is continued in the title-text, where Randall claims that this strip set the record for the most panels of this kind, a record previously held by Achewood.
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song is a 1971 Blaxploitation film that is generally regarded as an exemplar of its genre - its hero, Sweet Sweetback, is a strong, sexually-talented African American fighting his way out of the ghetto. Bursting fully-formed from Sweet Sweetback's head is a parody of the birth of Greek Goddess Athena.
References to Fleshlight, such as this comment by Beef in the first panel in the third row: You are gonna stand out as the sort of dude who stays at home all night playing fleshlight tag , became a recurring theme in xkcd, but this seems to be the first time.
- [Unlike regular xkcd comics, the text here seems to be typed on a machine, and the speech is in bubbles rather than just indicated with a thin line from the speaker. This is true for all spoken text. Also, Beef almost never uses any punctuation in his sentences.]
- [Philippe, an anthropomorphic stuffed otter, is participating in a hearing aid test with headphones over his ears and one arm raised. He is at a doctor's office, and behind him on the wall, there is an eye chart with six lines of E's, the large one on top a regular E, and then in the next two lines they are turned around in the four general directions. The last three lines are not readable. The doctor talks to Philippe from off-panel in a bubble going to the far right. Here it meets a thought bubble line going down and left from the upper right corner. On the right side, the background is gray, and Philippe can be seen lying in a bed, dreaming the scene to the left.]
- Doctor (off-panel): Philippe, your hearing is perfect! In fact, you heard ALL the beeps! You have super-hearing! You're needed at Hogwarts!
- Philippe: Oh boy!
- Eye chart:
- [Roast Beef, an anthropomorphic thin cat with pointy ears and small eyes, is looking at Ray, an anthropomorphic fat cat with black glasses. He is reading from a piece of paper that has been folded out, holding it up in front of him with both hands. They are seen from the waist up. Most of the time below, their eyebrows are visible to show feelings, but Beef's are not shown here. When they speak, their mouths are open, else they are closed. Beef's is closed in this panel. Above the drawing, there is a line, and in the thin frame formed by that and the top panel, there is a caption:]
- Meanwhile . . .
- Ray: Beef, check this out. I got an invite to that The Dude Is Pretty Awesome In Most Measurable Ways I Mean Wow competition.
- [This panel pans up so less of their bodies can be seen and more text can be seen above them. It is clear that Ray has a medal hanging around his neck, which was partly covered by his hands in the previous panel, which are now down. Apart from this, they look the same.]
- Beef: Alright that is pretty sweet dogg what is your strategy gonna consist of
- Ray: I'm thinkin' I need to point out my best features -- maybe go holdin' a sign with an arrow toward my junk.
- [Ray is seen almost in full figure, which reveals that he is only wearing big black underpants and the medal, his nipples also clearly visible on each side of the medal (as they were already in the previous panel, but not the one before). He has one arm at his side, the other holding a large sign with big bold text, and beneath this a large black arrow pointing first down and then across towards his pants waistband.]
- Sign: Yes
- [Back to same view as in the first panel, except a pan so Ray is in the center and Beef is partly cut off at the left frame so there is space for a speech bubble to the right of Ray. Ray holds up a drink glass in front of him with a cherry in the bottom. Beef's eyebrows are missing.]
- Beef: Yeah well I always said subtlety was your middle name dogg
- Beef: And also your first and last in case they didn't get the point
- Ray: How do you think I should play it?
- [Only Beef is shown in this panel to make room for his speech bubbles.]
- Beef: Well basically you got no chance as I see it these dudes are all lovers and fighters to the last
- Beef: All sprung fully formed from the head of Sweet Sweetback
- Beef: You are gonna stand out as the sort of dude who stays at home all night playing fleshlight tag
- [Both are again in this panel, but it has been panned up so only their heads are visible to place speech bubbles above them.]
- Ray: These words you got are crazy. Didn't I win the outdoor fight?
- Beef: Uh huh about the fight I wasn't gonna tell you but how could you miss that I was setting you up
- Ray: What?
- Beef: You got played dogg
- [Same but panned down to below the medal on Ray. Beef's eyebrows are missing.]
- Beef: I basically just didn't have the heart to go through with it in the end.
- [Only Beef is shown to the right, making space for five speech bubbles to his left.]
- Beef: Anyway the point is that you are gonna lose this thing so hard
- Beef: All cheap McD's hamburger to their slabs of steak
- Beef: A couple 12-oz sirloins garnished with nothing but pure manhood
- Beef: Maybe some sprigs of parsley
- Beef: You are pretty much going down
- [Closeup of a shocked Ray mouth hanging open.]
- [Silence 1. Both are shown from the waistline and up standing looking slightly down, arms down. Ray has closed his mouth. Generally, their ears shift a bit from panel to panel the rest of the way, as has their head position, but else they stay the same distance from each other.]
- [Silence 2. Same view. Beef looks perturbed, and his ear is twitching. Ray's mouth is open again.]
- [Silence 3. Same view. Beef looks sorry. Ray has closed his mouth.]
- [Silence 4. Same view. Beef looks sorry and Ray looks angry. Ray's mouth is open again.]
- [Silence 5. Same view. Ray has closed his mouth again. Beef's eyebrows are missing, but also Ray's are gone, maybe hidden by the rim of the glasses. They do not reappear in the rest of the comic, indicating that he keeps his eyes downcast. ]
- [Silence 6. Same view. Beef's eyebrows are back.]
- [Silence 7. The view has panned so low that it is possible to see the waistband of Ray's underpants. Beef is looking even more down and has moved closer to Ray whose mouth is open again.]
- [Silence 8. Same view, but a little less waistband visible. Beef has moved back agai. His eyebrows are missing and his mouth is open, and Ray looks even more down than before, still mouth open.]
- [Silence 9. View panned so low that a large part of Ray's underpants can be seen. Beef is looking down, mouth closes with eyebrows, Ray standing more straight, still mouth open.]
- [Silence 10. Beef looks surprised with eyebrows raised and has moved close to Ray, who has finally closed his mouth again.]
- This was the Achewood strip released the same day as this comic.
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