Infocom follies

Achewood panel

“I have to write about what interests me the most. If I don’t write about what interests me, it’s not going to interest anyone else. And you know, it’s the same thing—oftentimes I’ll sit here, and I’ll be writing a strip, and I’ll make a reference to a uniquely American thing and I’ll go, Oh, well, I’ve got a lot of readers in the United Kingdom and Australia, and they’re not going to get it. But then I think: But you know what? I watch and adore British comedies and oftentimes I don’t get the references, but I can appreciate the completeness and the honesty of it. So I try not to dumb it down, and I try not to think for other people.”

—Chris Onstad, in a 2007 interview

Sometimes, I think I love Chris Onstad’s Achewood so much because he caters so specifically to my tiny demographic of men raised in the 1980s who came of age with: 1) computers with 8-bit graphics and floppy drives; 2) Infocom text-based PC games; 3) an unhealthy appreciation of humor with convoluted language structure and sci-fi allusions; 4) potty mouths; 5) a decided lack of girlfriends before age 18; 6) zany flowcharts in our classrooms; 7) a love of food; and 8) obscure New Wave pop.

That’s a list so specific that I think there’s gotta be less than 50 people worldwide who fit this bill. Apparently, though, that demographic is large enough to sustain Onstad’s online comics empire, merchandise, two hardcover books, and adjunct blogs and zines from the strip’s characters. Apparently, that demographic can so support Achewood that Onstad can confidently draw this strip, which made me laugh so hard, at multiple points in my reading, that I almost peed myself. I imagine that this installment must be completely incomprehensible to anyone else.

But then, as a kid, I felt the same way about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it turned out that millions of people are into that, too.

So, God bless Chris Onstad, for sticking to his batshit crazy guns.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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2 Responses to Infocom follies

  1. Prof Fury says:

    Ha! Oh man, I am completely in the tank for all things Infocom-related or -referencing. My love for those games, for the whole material culture of Infocom ephemera, is well beyond the rational. Your favorite Infocom game? I have a real soft spot for Sorcerer. I replayed Lurking Horror recently and found it a little disappointing — it was so much shorter than I remembered.
    OK, you’re about to wreck my productivity for the day. I will go think about something else now.

  2. Wally says:

    Haha!! I got tendonitis playing Infocom games as a kid.
    Achewood makes me cry it’s so good.

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