Monday, October 10, 2011

Orcs Is Out Today

JOE:  Orcs, Forged for War is officially out in stores in the US today. I highly recommend going to you local comic book store and picking up a copy. But if you're not into the whole brick-and-mortar experience, it's also available at

STAN:  What a long, strange trip it's been.  But very creative and enjoyable.  From conception, when it was entitled Fit For Purpose, to the glowing, finished product freshly released.

We shouldn't let the day pass without a tip of the helmet to all the great people at First Second Books, not least Mark Siegel, Calista Brill and Gina Gagliano, who made this trip not only possible but smooth.

 The book doesn't belong to us anymore.  

It's emerged blinking from the spawn beds to confront one of the toughest bunches the Wolverines have ever faced.  

It's up to the readers now.  

JOE:  I would also like to thank the good people over at First Second, especially our book designer Colleen AF Venable.  I'd also like to thank Elizabeth and my good friend Matt, I could not have done this without their constant support.  Sadly this will mark the end of daily updates, but not to worry, there will be an occasional post, plus I'll continue to upload new drawings and projects to my Facebook or Google page or what ever people will be using disseminate information in the not-so-distant future.


JOE:  I saved the best for last, Jennesta, the evil tyrant and sorceress, who has enslaved the orc race and forced them into her war against the Unis (orcs would probably want to fight the Unis regardless, it's jus that Jennesta has the tendency to execute those who don't follow her orders to the letter.) It's almost impossible to talk about the Orcs books without mentioning this character. Not just because she's the main villain, but because of her recreational activities. Her monstrous and gruesome acts are done not only to replenish her magical ability, but to satisfy some horrible need to exert her power over what she considers to be lesser beings. She is not only powerful and cruel but she is uncannily beautiful. And not beautiful a traditional way, but in an unnatural way you just can't put you're finger on, that makes you uneasy. This was the main difficulty in designing her character. I did lots of drawings of Jennesta that just focused or her cruelty and she came out
looking too ugly. Her ugliness needed to be pushed just under the surface. She is also a sexual being and I wanted her sexual power comes from her confidence. I gave he a wide, almost masculine stance, also having her wear next to nothing
doesn't hurt either. 

STAN:  There's a sense in which I love Jennesta.  Though not in a I'd-quite-like-to-meet-her sort of way.  OK, I might have gone a bit over the top with her, a little pantomime, perhaps.  But she is, after all, a villain, and writing villains is often more fun than writing heroes.  It's easy to get carried away.  I'm pleased that Joe managed to make her both alluring and repulsive, and that he overcame the problem of presenting a character with a demanding physical appearance - she being a kind of hybrid.   

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goblin in Charge

JOE:  Eegett-Qinx is the goblin sorcerer, who is in charge of the operation, Stryke and his war-band have been ordered to carry out. He is an unpleasant guest among the Wolverines, but they are under orders to do whatever he says. Eegget-qinx also possesses what the orcs do not, magic. He can create a protective coat of flames around him and lob firry orbs of brimstone at his enemies.

STAN:  This character was envisaged as a bastard.  Joe's captured that perfectly. He also looks like a pretty convincing wizard.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Two-Faced Little Pricks

JOE:  This is how Haskeer refers to goblins, when he learns his war-band will be responsible for escorting a group of them in order to test a new weapon for use in Jennesta's war with the Unis. This is the focal plot point of the Orcs, Forged for War. Even though the orcs are supposed to protect them, the goblins are still hostile towards the war-band and this is the source of most of the conflict in the book. The long road they have to travel is full of danger, and these mean-spirited, petty and secretive lil' sons of bitches don't make it easy for Stryke and his Wolverines.

STAN:  Haskeer has a way with words.  When he isn't involved in slaughter he's busy working on a book of etiquette.  As should be apparent by now, just about everybody's hands are turned against the orcs.  But if they have a particular set of antagonists - apart from rapacious humans, of course - it's goblins.  The animosity between the two races goes back a long way.  Part of it stems from their widely divergent natures.  Where orcs are plain-speaking to and beyond the point of bluntness, goblins are duplicitous; they revel in meanness of spirit, whereas orcs recognise a code of honour, however crude; goblins derive pleasure from sadism, while orcs favour a clean kill.  The two are oil and water.  And oil burns on water.

Friday, October 7, 2011


JOE:  These are the drawings I overlooked or just had no where else too put. I've got the highest ranking orc in Jennesta's army, Gen Kysthan. And a nightmare Uni from a dream sequence, where he severs an elf's head a drinks the blood.

STAN:  The General's exactly how an orcs commander should look.  This guy's solid as a rock.  The dream sequence excerpted here is one of the graphic novel's more vivid, almost hallucinatory sections.  It has a pleasingly nightmarish quality.  


JOE:  Once I read all the way to the end of Stan's first Orcs trilogy, I decided to do a chart showing the anatomy and proportions relative to each other of every race in Maras-Dantia. At the time I drew this I still wanted orcs to be slightly shorter than a human. I didn't necessarily stick to this chart religiously, it was more of a guideline. It's an interesting artifact in my journey through this project.

STAN:  This is inspired.  I want it as a poster.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


JOE:  Both Nyadds and Sirens seem to conjure the same nautical feeling so I've grouped them together. There's no mention or appearance of Nyadds in the Orcs graphic novel, so I have very little sketch-wise. The sirens show up, but there appearance is brief.

STAN:  Joe's nyadds are great, but his sirens excel.  Very sexy.  You could imagine being irresistibly drawn to their rock even if they didn't make an enticing sound.  Readers of the orcs graphic novel, which is original and separate from the series of orcs prose novels, will realize that Joe's illustrations of the nyadds, the bounty hunters, the brownies and some other characters here in the sketchbook are based on events in the novels, not the graphic novel.  That he chose to sketch characters that wouldn't appear in the graphic novel - to get his eye in, so to speak - shows his dedication to the project.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hostile Territory

JOE:  Then they are the inhabitants of Maras-Dantia that have crossed paths with the orcs and for whatever reason, they rub each other the wrong way. I don't want to get into the specifics, pick up the first Orcs trilogy if you want to find out the details of how the Wolverines run afoul of trolls, goblins, kabolds and of course, three of my favorite human characters, the three orc bounty hunters. I'm not sure if troglodytes have any issues with orcs. All I know is that they're subterranean dwellers enslaved by the sorceress Jennesta. I just thought they were a good fit for this entry.

STAN:  Having so many different races, creatures and characters in play gives a writer plenty of possibilities to toy with. Of course it gives an artist an equally wide scope, too.  Having to depict all this diversity must have been a challenge for Joe.  But I think he had fun with it.  The orc bounty hunters - which is to say the trio of disreputable humans who hunt orcs for a living - are favorites of mine.  And here we have another rare example, for me, of a character taken from a real person.  One of the three - I'm not going to say which - was based on somebody who did me wrong.  I described this  character almost exactly like the person in question, and I even gave him a very similar name.  I got a lot of pleasure from killing him.  The character, that is, not the real person!  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unlikely Allies

JOE:  In the orcs home of Maras-Dantia, there is an unsteady balance between all of the races that inhabit his world. Most of them have an prejudice towards the orcs, but some have more of an uneasy alliance because they have a mutual enemy, the Unis. Some of these more friendly races include; centaurs, gremlins, pixies, humans of the Mani faith, and elves( elves aren't know to be warriors but I came up with a hypothetical elf warrior anyway). And also a golbin/elf hybrid called a brownie, know for their skill as dragon riders. There's a lot of intermingling of races within Maras Dantia, some of it is done with magic, I assume the rest is done the old-fashioned way.

STAN:  The story's setting, Maras-Dantia, teems with diverse life.  A task I set myself was to give some kind of role to virtually every mythical, legendary and imaginary race or creature I could think of - though admittedly some of the more obscure ones have only walk on parts.  (In some cases slither, flap or creep on parts.)  In such a varied society there's bound to be a lot of conflict, giving ample opportunities for drama.  There would also be the making and breaking of alliances, and a great deal of political maneuvering.  So it's a continuously shifting situation.  But there is one constant.  Just about everybody  hates the orcs.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dragons Ect.

JOE:  I was tempted to do an entry just about dragons, but they're not really a focus in any of the Orcs novels I've read. From the orcs perspective, they are just another weapon in Jennesta's arsenal. They're used, similar to the way airplanes are used in modern warfare, as tactical support to ground troops when they need a to incinerate a target from above. I've also thrown in a griffin, a hippogriff and an enchanted mechanical giant, know as a Watcher.

STAN:  The dragons in the orcs series are formidable but unreliable, in a bull-in-a-china-shop sense.  They're just as likely to clumsily incinerate friends as burn foes to a crisp.  The only ones that really have an empathy with them, and can control them (more or less) are the race of brownies.  Potentially, this gives the brownie dragon-riders a great deal of power, though being generally placid folk they rarely exercise it unwisely.  The Wolverines have a certain sympathy for hippogryphs and their ilk because, like orcs, they tend to be feared and despised.  Not that the orcs are above hunting them when food's short.