We are three weeks from the second anniversary of Chris Onstad’s announcement that his iconic/iconoclastic webcomic “Achewood” was going on hiatus, which was one month after he demolished the fourth wall with his characters complaining about an unannounced hiatus. Since then, he has posted 15 comics depicting his infinitely proud and confident Ray Smuckles character completely falling apart in an appropriately surreal manner… when we last left Ray, I suspected the amnesiac would adopt the name “Grover Cleveland” in order to compete with 19th-Century-President-Named-Comics-Character Garfield.

But on Sunday, February 24th, Chris Onstad told the world (on his self-described Awesome blog) “I’ve been working with a team of artists, engineers, and producers to bring Achewood to life. To give it the voices, richness, and opportunities it never had as a comic strip.” And he unveiled the following 19-second mini-trailer.

Achewood Television Trailer One “Hello, world” from therussians on Vimeo.

He then announced “I’m flying to Los Angeles today to begin a week of network pitch meetings. If things go well, we’ll find a home for our show.” As we reach the end of this fateful week, there is no news yet, whether he will have the ‘networking’ success of “Axe Cop” or have to find another distribution model – which for cartoons today, would probably mean a Kickstarter, and frankly, Onstad strikes me as one comic creator who would not feel comfortable doing a Kickstarter. But then again, he also strikes me as someone who would feel VERY uncomfortable in a network pitch meeting.

But there has been a new development as a 5-minute video of ‘test footage’, with voices, was leaked onto YouTube by a mysterious “benhet”:

Instant analysis:
Animated by “The Russians”… well, at least they’re not Koreans.
Something is “off model” here… does Onstad really intend for Ray’s belly to look like that?
There are obvious challenges with animating the characters… the skinny legs and tiny feet make ‘walk cycles’ tortuous, and the lack of fingers on the hands just add to the awkwardness. Waiaminute… in the credits… “Motion Capture Studios”?!? I can think of a few webcomics that can be animated using Motion Capture, and this ain’t one of them.
Ray, Roast Beef and Philippe are the only speaking parts… Onstad himself doing the voice of Roast Beef, of course. Toby Huss as Ray? As a “Pete and Pete” fan, I thoroughly approve, but he should have a little less “pimp-style” in the voice and a little more Artie, the Strongest Man in the World. And as Philippe, Abbey DiGregorio, formerly McBride, best known as the Pikachu parody in “Drawn Together” where she got to make up a gibberish language for her character – no such opportunity here.
“Achewood” has always been one webcomic I respected more than actively enjoyed (much like “Axe Cop”, so I give it a good chance to get picked up by FOX), and the animated version doesn’t change that.