Erik Agard is one of my favorite crossword creators. He posts puzzles on a regularish basis (more on that later) at Glutton for Pun. He is also fantastic on Crossword Twitter (which is regular twitter, but when you only talk with other solvers about the crossword) and in the comments section of this website. I’m pretty sure all of these things are what the ??? emojis were made for, because his comments, tweets, and crosswords are straight fire.
I set out to ask Erik the standard cruciverbalism questions in a quick GChat, but we got distracted talking about the Eurovision Song Contest AND I realized while we were chatting that he’s answered a lot of those standard questions (what made you start constructing, how do you get your ideas, what’s your favorite clue/fill/etc.) already in various other places, including the first episode of the On The Grid podcast (which you should totally listen to). So while you do that (don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to finish), I’ll talk about why Erik’s puzzles are worth adding to your regular puzzle rotation (you totally have one of those, right? It’s not just me?)
Okay, so now that you’ve done that:
- Erik’s fill always impresses me with its modernity and cleanness. I consider myself “tuned in” to pop culture and there’s always one or two references I don’t quite get in Erik’s puzzles, but I love that it pushes me to learn a little bit more and check more things out. His themelesses are especially good for these.
- That said, when he does a theme puzzle, there’s always plenty to amuse. His recent collaboration with Paolo Pasco, “Transfers” had a fun twist and an equally fun meta, and as I discussed with him, I’m still in awe of what he did with his puzzle “Clip Show”, to the point that I don’t want to give away the reveal but just tell you to work through it, spot what’s going on, and bask in the inventiveness at work here.
- The inventiveness which which Erik approached his grids in A-Garde also impresses me – every one is a little “off” from the standard 15×15 squares that show up every day in other mediums, and play with the form in a way that you don’t get to see in a standard NYT. It’s definitely worth your money (plus, it’s pay what you want!)
- I also love the tone of Erik’s clues, flavortext, and general tweeting and commenting about crosswords. It feels like he approaches every clue and puzzle seriously, finding a balance between wit and earnestness that makes even the most standard of crossword fill come alive. Off the grid (terrible pun fully intended), he’s also a great champion for better representation in crosswords, both in how things are clued and in who’s doing the cluing, and the field is stronger because of it.
Erik’s puzzles used to appear regularly on Wednesdays, but now have a more intermittent schedule that makes them seem to arrive just when you need them. I’d recommend either signing up for his email list or adding his page to your RSS reader (if you’re still doing that) to make sure you don’t miss a single one. All of his Glutton for Pun puzzles are free, and if those aren’t enough for you, his published collection Food for Thought Crosswords, is a great addition to your collection.
If that’s somehow not enough, he’s also one of the constructing forces behind The Indie 500 crossword tournament, which takes place IN DC on June 3 and which you should totally check out if you want to test your mettle. It’s the only crossword tournament where you get to choose your entrance music and wrestling ring name as part of signing up, and it’s a blast.
Okay, I think I’ve run on enough on why Erik and his puzzles are so awesome. Check them out – happy solving!
Erik really is one of the true up-and-coming artists on the crossword scene. I’ll put Erik’s cluing up against pretty much any other constructor out there right now, and the innovations in theme that he’s been able to produce in his young career is a strong indication that he’ll be a major force in puzzleworld for a long time.
Keep up the good work, Erik, and thanks for the wonderful write-up Ben!
ten thumbs up for both erik and this post. i’m loving the indie spotlight feature.
see you all at the indie 500!
This makes me sadder than ever about missing the Indie 500. Sigh.
Great writeup, and great puzzles, and go, e a!
Cosigning this x1000 (especially re Clip Show, my favorite puzzle possibly ever)
If I had to vote for only one “Best Cluewriter” champion (argh, thank goodness I don’t actually have to), it would be Erik. Not to mention that in addition to all his other talents, he’s one of the best speed-solvers in the US.
Fabulous writeup, Ben. There just can’t be enough said about Erik as a constructor and as a person. ❤️
Excellent writeup and I agree 100%. Always fresh clues on the cutting edge. The creativity is overflowing!
Late to the party again, but I have to cosign all of this praise. Erik is so talented and so creative it’s a bit mind-blowing – like many of his themes.
Does Erik ever post the answers to his metas anywhere? I ask because he regularly stumps me.