All Day Comic of the Day: ORC STAIN!

26 May

by Orion Tippens

Orc Stain: Volume 1

Writer, Artist, Colorist – James Stokoe

Image Comics, 2010

Collects issues 1-5 with some extras

 Orc Stain TPB cover

Here is the very reason I enjoy reading comic books: to be enveloped in an unfamiliar universe, where certain elements occasionally rip and rebuild the foundations of the imagination!

Orc Stain: Volume 1 by James Stokoe delivers a fantasy world like no other, perfected in the sequential art form.

Within lies the creator’s interpretation of the orc, familiar in too much fantasy literature as mindless, savage beasts, often in the service of a greater evil. But in the world of Orc Stain, we see a contrasting, truthful lifestyle, a more independent environment of the orc: much of it filled with otherworldly dwellings, gargantuan creatures, and dangerous vegetation. Here the resources and surroundings in orc life are complex, organized into necessity for such creatures to survive and exist. Concepts of good and evil need not apply, as purpose and necessity are more apparent to the survival of the orc inhabitants. They have savage instincts, but with a bizarre sense of logical direction that collectively evolve, which develops into a world as imaginative as futuristic sci-fi lit.

We, as readers, share in the survival of the protagonist, a one-eyed thief Orc, with a knack for hitting pressure points with his hammer. On his journey, he is eventually thrust into a grander situation, becoming the target of dominating forces and a mysterious prophecy. Along the way, discovery and treachery happen, guiding our hero in doing great and terrible things by instinct and bravery, propelling the story forward.

Orc Stain excerpt

The story elements are a perfect complement to the art. For the visuals, there is consistent detail in the pencils and inks, leaving each panel rich and exciting. As a result, the well-defined characters and elements, with their detailed abundance of teeth, wood, sludge, and crooked periphery, are collectively inspiring, adding to this fascinating, bizarre world. The colors add even more, with a unique combination of strange flesh tones, dulled primaries, and a playful mix of combinations that can seemingly only exist in this fantasy setting. The results of this art process mean that Orc Stain is not a quick read: readers should take time throughout the story to admire the details.

Orc Stain becomes even more enjoyable as it reveals the nuances of its world: certain honorifics, love nymphs’ sexualization, locational clan differences, and (most importantly) the Gonch, which is best explained in the book as I don’t have the words to describe its hilarious and disturbing connotations!

The total package of Orc Stain is brilliant. Yes, the overall story may not appear original to literary fantasy thrillseekers, in which a conquering evil is faced by a simple potential hero who faces his destiny. The challenges and stakes are raised as expected, but nothing too terribly complex for readers to think about. But such familiar tropes are actually a good thing for the series, as the insane details of this twisted and unique world will probably dominate the readers’ absorption of the series, at least for this first volume.

With all that being said, give Orc Stain a read. The violence and somewhat disturbing yet  lightly comical style is worth a shot, though it might not be for everyone. But if I’ve carried your interest this far into the review, than dive in and enjoy!

Orc Stain #1 cover

BOOKS BY JAMES STOKOE (Click and buy! Your clicks help keep this site alive. Thanks!):

Orc Stain Volume 1 TP

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup Volume 2

Popgun Vol. 1

Strange Tales II

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