When you think of orcs you generally envision humungous, scarred, treacherous beings with horrendous teeth. Well, this band of misfit orcs definitely doesn’t have a dental plan, but they are likeable. ORCS! #1, written and illustrated by Christine Larsen, is a Middle Earth parody that weaves two tales into one. In this issue we are introduced to the legendary orc Drod the One Eye, who mapped the land and sea, and Bog (or “that idiot Bog” as he is known in finer circles), who leads his band of nitwits on a treasure hunt. Add to the mix an ayahuasca-slurping shaman and you know this is going to be a fun read. This trippy shaman opens the show and nearly steals it!
Orcs #1 (Snaga Comix)
The story is lighthearted and pokes fun at many of the common elements of Middle Earth, right down to the map. I am no topographer but “Eerieasallhellforest” is much easier to remember and probably more apt than let’s say “Mirkwood of Rhovänion.” Larsen does a great job of establishing the hierarchy and temperament of Bog’s crew in a few simple words and scenes. Each member of this band of five orcs has a distinct personality and sense of style—I will let you discover them for yourself but may I just say two words: ninja orc.
Did I like it?
Yes, the story is quick-moving with a mix of in your face jokes and subtle humor throughout. It is a bit silly at times, but that’s the point. The flow of one particular chase scene reminded me of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Larsen definitely has a grip on what is funny.
Larsen’s artwork captures the characters’ expressions perfectly. Her use of hatching adds depth to the black and white panels, especially the shadowed or dimly lit scenes. The colored bookends, however, left me wishing for a few more colored scenes mixed in. I especially would have loved a full color hallucinogenic shaman panel. There’s always next time.
This could turn too cute very quickly and restrict the audience to younger readers. Or the absurdity of Bog and his crew could lead into a solely slapstick direction. I hope Larsen stays true to her current style and keeps weaving in the understated comedy.
In any event, the tone is set and the map is marked, where will Bog and crew go next?
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