Creator owned comics, especially those written, coloured, and illustrated by the creator, are the best out there. Orc Stain is no exception, except that it is the cream of the crop. The art is a labor of love, incredibly detailed and the color that sings between the ink is a welcome change from Stokoe's usual black and white fare.
The Orc Tzar, a Genghis Khanesque Qin wannabe, is marshaling his not inconsiderable forces to unify the orc nation. Fickle and moronic, the orcs cannot remain cohesive for long, and often splinter into smaller tribes and colonies. The Tzar consults an oracle and discovers that an one-eyed orc is destined to be his downfall. In a classic act of self-fulfilling prophecy, he orders all one-eyed orcs be taken captive.
In the land of the blind, the One-Eyed orc is king. Possessing an intelligence and morality in an entire culture of cultures that revels in inane, moronic violence, One-Eye is spectacularly and utterly alone in his unique nature. He also has a knack for discovering the weak spot in objects which saves his ass on more that a million occasions.
What Stokoe has written is a perverse, epic masterpiece to rival fantasy tropes the likes of Tolkien and Jordan. In the first few books, he has established an interesting culture based on an even more interesting currency. The gronch is a lopped-off orc penis. The gronch is peeled and chopped into chits to be dehydrated over a fire. So on that basis, orcs are continually betraying and engaging each other in combat for the payoff of a warm, severed gronch.
And there's the poison throwers, solitary female shamans that occupy the swamplands. So far, the limited roles females play in the Orc Stain is that of a low-caste prostitute or the much feared swamp ramba. (I am really looking forward to discovering Stokoe's treatment of the orc reproduction process) Using the poison thrower, Stokoe exhibits creative alchemial uses for strange creatures.
This is just the beginning of an epic tale to rival the mush towards Mordor. If the reader isn't easily made queasy by almost ceaseless obscene renditions of the gronch, here awaits an exciting and subversive read.