Orc Stain

Orc Stain 4 (July 2010)

skitched-20101015-172322.pngStokoe’s colors might be my favorite thing about Orc Stain. I can’t decide. This issue is so incredibly luscious with the colors–One-Eye runs into a swamp witch who gets ends up getting into this poison battle with his pursuers. The colors in this battle are just amazing–Stokoe utilizes color in a popular comic in a way I’m not used to seeing.

Clearly, calling Orc Stain a popular comic has more to do with intent (I’m assuming, with that statement, Stokoe isn’t using the colors to convey specific meaning) than sales. It’s way too good to be popular.

Even this issue, with Stokoe’s almost constant exposition–there’s some more orc technology at the beginning, but it’s introduced instead of just emerging in the narrative, and then the whole poison thing (in orc world, poisons are very important).

But the writing’s strong; though it could use another sympathetic character.


Bowie The Poison Thrower; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

Orc Stain 3 (May 2010)

skitched-20101015-172228.pngWow, seeing Stokoe do an all action issue is something else. I can’t really think of a more successful such issue (I usually use “all action” as a pejorative), but this one succeeds because of the art.

There’s a lot of story inventiveness too–I love how Stokoe makes the orcs and their world really disgusting, but never so much it might be too much. Maybe because he doesn’t show any of the implied slime. This issue features all the orcs’ organic weapons, which I know has been done before, but it shows Stokoe is thinking, not just drawing an amazing chase scene.

The issue is mostly that chase scene, as the protagonist–I think he’s named One Eye–tries to get away from his former partner in crime. In the process, they destroy most of the town they’re in.

Stokoe’s movement is important here, since it’s a chase, and it’s simply magnificent.


Escape from Skrubtown; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

Orc Stain 2 (March 2010)

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This issue, Stokoe does quite a bit. Primarily, He introduces a crisis and resolves it. If he ever starts working for the big two, he’ll have to learn he’s not allowed to have an issue with so much content.

But he also starts exploring orc culture–especially at the end of this issue, with the orcs of low character getting ready to go after One-Eye. Part of Stokoe playing the series for laughs at times–even at very dramatic times–the work he does establishing the setting comes in quietly. It’s impressive work, especially given how much of it he’s doing himself.

Maybe I’m just enthused because there’s something of a Good, the Bad and the Ugly reference in the issue.

Lots of the book–the second half–is talking heads and seeing Stokoe apply his style to that format is wondrous. They’re such busy, yet concise, pages.



The Chopping Block; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

Orc Stain 1 (January 2010)

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I’ve been hearing about Orc Stain for a while. But I had no idea what to expect. I knew Stokoe worked hard on the art for each issue, but knowing he inked and colored his pencils himself didn’t tell me anything about the content. I didn’t even know there were orcs in it, not really.

After this issue, I still don’t know what to expect. I know the setting now–Stokoe’s warring orcs are kind of like Smurfs gone violent and gross–but he hasn’t established a tone. The protagonist seems to be One-Eye (orcs don’t have given names) who robs safes and crypts with an annoying, bossy green sidekick.

Stokoe’s writing is fine. His dialogue is all solid and his characters, if nameless, are strong enough for a first issue. He does, however, have One-Eye narrating a part of the issue to a non-orc reader, which doesn’t make sense.


Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

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