'Orcs in Space' Explores Inner Space in Outer Space
We chat with co-creators Michael Tanner and François Vigneault about their bloody good star trek.
There are two types of comic readers: those who've read Orcs in Space and those who've yet to read Orcs in Space. Whichever camp you fall into, you're awesome. Your life is either great, or it's about to get great.
The Young Adult (?) series is from Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, writers Abed Gheith, Rashad Gheith, Michael Tanner, and artist François Vigneault. It's a hilarious science fiction romp featuring a decent amount of blood. However, the comic is a real sneaker, a story that grabs your giggles and transforms them into warm, buttery emotional solace.
In Orcs in Space Volume 1, our titular heroes, Gor, Kravis, and Mongtar experienced life as only one thing - the pursuit of mayhem! And then, suddenly, they're granted access to a Starship and its curious artificial intelligence system, D.O.N.A. Offworld, the orcs discover independence. They're no longer chained to a singular opportunity. They can be more than what they imagined.
In our latest Creator Cranny conversation (which you can listen to in full RIGHT HERE), we chat with Michael Tanner and François Vigneault about the delicious absurdity their heroes plunge through in every Orcs in Space issue, and how those raucous adventures uncover optimistic truths regarding empathy and its power.
"The orcs," says Vigneault, "represent different reactions to new things in your life. Gor basically reacts with anger and fear. Kravis is reacting with wonder. In some ways, Mongtar reacts with equanimity to everything, and I think he's the zen ideal in the middle of everybody."
Orcs in Space did not begin as an introspective, philosophical exploration. These creators revel in the silly and the chaotic. Achieving a goofy, bloody, hilarious playground was always their primary mission. The heart we, Brad and Lisa, latched upon came almost as an accident.
"That wasn't initially there at all," says Tanner. "It was a lot more about gross-out slapstick wacky attacky space fantasy adventure. But as we were meeting with Abed and Rashad, who originally developed the idea, and then Justin came in to refine it, and I was brought in to help turn it into a comic, it really started to feel like we wanted to spend more time exploring D.O.N.A."
The A.I.'s inclusion altered everything. D.O.N.A.'s interaction with the Orcs transformed the story as the characters transformed each other. Through their relationship, Orcs in Space freed itself to survey deeper themes that resonate with self-improvement junkies like ourselves.
"From within that," continues Tanner, "we could tell the wacky attacky space fantasy stories about empathy and finding yourself. Autonomy and self-actualization became more and more apparent as we went through plotting the first arc and then the second arc."
In slightly diverting the narrative focus for Volume 2, the creators radically expanded Orcs in Space's potential. In the process, they invited their readers to broaden their perspectives. Whether we're aware of it or not, we're always on a quest, and these green terrors have had their eyes opened by another. Through their example, we can follow.
"By the writers shifting the focus to D.O.N.A.," says Vigneault, "and her self-actualization, it changes the second volume. It creates a unique, self-contained story. Really, it's like The Search for Spock or something. It's The Search for D.O.N.A.'s Soul."
Orcs in Space Volume 2 is a game-changer. There's no coming back from it. The comic expands into bolder, wilder, and possibly infinite directions. With such a journey comes another tier of supporting characters. And with them comes more opportunity for reader obsession.
"The fun thing about that too," continues Vigneault, "is it introduces other elements of the universe that weren't present in the first volume. The scope changes and expands because the characters are moving all around the universe. In searching for D.O.N.A.'s origins, they meet people that we wouldn't have met in the first book. I think that combination of a focus on D.O.N.A. plus more new side characters helps build the story to be a little bit bigger than just the titular Orcs in Space."
For now, Orcs in Space is planned as a three-volume series, twelve issues in total. We don't want that. We want Orcs in Space to spread for decades. We want Tanner and Vigneault cranking out Orcs in Space stories until they're old and gray. Thankfully, they are not totally opposed to our wishes.
"I feel like we wrap up the final volume in a very good way for the characters," says Tanner. "It's the start of a new chapter for them. We can see what else they could do. But also, I feel like readers would be satisfied if they never see these characters again after issue twelve. I think they'll feel like the characters are in a good, fun place. But I know I definitely want to tell more. If we got a season two, I think we set up some great stuff for it."
Again, Vigneault looks to those cowboys in space that once ruled late-sixties television. Kirk, Spock, and Bones only ran out of stories when the studio said no more. It's on us to convince Oni Press to keep this space party going. Trekkies persuaded Paramount to reignite the Enterprise warp core, and fifty years later, a new Spock rides the streaming airwaves.
"I would agree," says Vigneault. "I think Orcs in Space could definitely be one of these machines for tellings stories. There are almost no limits on what the story is. You can always introduce new characters. It's just like in the old Star Trek, you know. Every episode can be a new planet and a new question. A new problem and a new solution. Then, you build up from there so it really could go on forever."
For us, Orcs in Space jumped immediately into our hearts, and we've folded it into our core philosophy. You can consume it exclusively for its mayhem and gags, but you'll scrape into a passionate plea for human (or sentient) connectivity if you pierce just below its surface. Twelve issues will certainly satisfy as the previous eight issues have already done so, but we don't want this trek to end with one season.
Please read Lisa's Comics Bookcase review for Orcs in Space Volume 1 to further understand where we're coming from. We frickin' love these comics.
We were absolutely delighted to chat with Michael Tanner and François Vigneault about the series and where it's headed. Orcs in Space Volume 2, published by Oni Press, hits comic shelves on 4/26. Grab yours from your local shop, or click HERE to order directly from the publisher.
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