Comics simply don’t get much better than”Orc Stain”. One of the best comics I’ve read lately and probably one of the best comics ever made. Just world class in conception, art, and execution.
It’s a world of Orcs, the dark bad guy villains in the Lord of the Rings Saga, so of course its a world of perpetual war. Here’s a description of that world from the book. “No Orc empire has ever stood the test of time, it’s warlords ultimately turned upon by the fractious nature of the mob…But now in the southernmost jungles, a powerful new chieftan has risen. Dubbed “The Orctzar”, he has done what was forever thought impossible and united the masses in the homeland, unleashing them upon lands unconquerable…The older races, long sheltered behind thick walls weathering the tide of fractured orc tribes, have begun to fall one by one to the banner of the tzar…The Orc Stain spreads ever onwards.”
It’s actually quite a vicious world where the man’s sexual organ, known as a “gonch”, is routinely cut off as a trophy. Not a world that I would want to visit. Or take a look a close look at what our lead violent Orc Tzar wears around his neck.
The art just drips and reeks with the memory and perspective of the 70’s Heavy Metal. Has James Stokoe studied at the feet of Philippe Druillet? Does James Stokoe know Lone Sloane personally? Wouldn’t surprise me. Here’s another panel.
Just look at that architecture. Just look at those colors. Sure, there’s a war going on but its pretty. I think Stokoe also studied at the architectural school of Giger. You can’t tell if this is a city that’s been constructed or grown. This book also features yet another outstanding coloring job. Is it me or have computers made coloring better? The bearded character looks to be some kind of mage/lawyer/hand who advises and carrys out the orders of the Orc Tzar. He seems to be just one walking beard. This also reminds me a lot of Ralph Bakshi’s “Wizards” in just the overall feel of the book. I really like who James steals from.
I also think that the writing here is very very good. I’m actually not a fan of fantasy because there are some weird politics to fantasy (some problems explained here by China Mieville) that I’ve never been into. But it feels science fictional. I don’t know if people remember the book by Paul Di Filippo called “Ribofunk” or a rarer story by Rob Chilson called “Far Away Things” (high tech written as fantasy) but this is what the writing feels like to me. There’s a lot of technology in those Orc Hills but its mostly organic. There are organic bombs, sentient furs, weird crackling communication systems, balloon flights, safes made out of bears and other futuristic items that you can see in the backgrounds. The animals seem to have higher IQs and do some talking. No television or computers per se but there is some advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic, of course.
Highly recommended. Just sustained marvelous violently inspired weirdness. 4.9 stars out of 5. (There are a total of six issues of Orc Stain. There’s a 7th issue due in December.)