Orc Stain 7 (February 2012)

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This issue is sort of strange. It feels extra-sized, with Stokoe resolving his cliffhanger and also One-Eye’s capture. The witch–specifically, her sidekick–rescues One-Eye and then Stokoe develops the team dynamic for the trio. There’s a lot of funny dialogue, maybe more than since the first couple issues. The witch’s sidekick, a living, mean-spirited fluff of red hair, dislikes orcs and offers commentary on the trio’s misadventures.

The art is good, but somehow muted for the big action in the first half. It’s like Stokoe is doing what Stokoe does in Orc Stain, nothing new.

The finale has a lot of new stuff for Stokoe though, including these killer bunnies. At least I think they’re killer bunnies. And farting little anteaters. They’re a strange mix of cute and gross.

Stokoe is able to reinvent Stain a bit, especially with all the new material he introduces.

CREDITS

Through Mondo Pass; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

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Orc Stain 6 (March 2011)

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Funny how Stokoe can have the present action of an issue be fifteen minutes and I can’t imagine anyone would ever think of calling him decompressed or lazy. Maybe because he does the art (and colors and letters) too and the art in this speedy issue is probably more complex than the longer paced ones.

One-Eye is busy escaping from the giant monster mountain, along with a couple impromptu sidekicks, on the run from some cannibal orcs and the living walls. So it’s an extended chase through an organic system. Very gross. Stokoe excels at it.

But the witch is still hanging out and the big villain is around too. Stokoe brings them all together for the cliffhanger, which also reveals some of One-Eye’s origin, but only if you pay close attention. Not because the story’s complicated, but because Stokoe’s art is so detailed.

It’s another awesome Stain.

CREDITS

The Arena of Meat; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

Orc Stain 5 (October 2010)

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James Stokoe has such an interesting approach to foreshadowing I wonder if he even feels he utilizes the device. Around the midway point–maybe just a little earlier, but when Orc Stain‘s protagonist wakes up for the first time this issue–Stokoe makes sure the reader pays attention to something the protagonist notices.

The protagonist even tells this little something he’s going to put it away for later use.

Guess what? Later use isn’t this issue. I kept waiting for it to come back, sort of like I kept waiting for the witch girl to reunite with the protagonist and save his butt. But she’s not around to save his butt, she’s around to exact revenge on their common enemy.

The orcs’ lack of morals is one of Stain‘s most constantly amusing facets and this issue is no difference. Stokoe revels in their debauchery.

It’s a tight issue; quite good.

CREDITS

Belly of the Beast; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, James Stokoe; publisher, Image Comics.

Orc Stain 4 (July 2010)

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Stokoe’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.

CREDITS

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

Orc Stain 3 (May 2010)

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Wow, 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.

CREDITS

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.

Lovely.

CREDITS

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.

CREDITS

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

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