I'm sure you're aware Erny has launched Orctober once more and there has already been a plethora of Orcy articles on numerous blogs.
Last year I pondered on the subject - What a thing an Orc is?
This time around I thought I'd examine why I have such a fondness for all things Goblinoid and green (and for that matter orange, brown, black, etc). Much of the reason for this is all the amazing artwork that seared itself into my young and impressionable brain. So to kick off this month's celebration of all things Orcish I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite Orc illustrations.
As it was Fighting Fantasy (along with Heroquest) that first whetted my appetite for all things Fantasy, I'll start with some of those amazing Orcy front covers - which looking back seem to mostly come from the talented hands of Chris Achilleos.
Armies of Death is a case in point. With a burning town to his right and a gibbering horde to his left, the central character in this portrait is a fine figure of an Orc. Heavily armed and armoured and standing on a pile of his vanquished foes, this is one Orc not to be tangled with! Might have to see about making a similar standard pole for my army standard bearer when I get round to it...
|Orc War Banner 1987 Chris Achilleos|
You'll have seen this image here a few times because of my Trolltooth Wars project - and you'll see it again because I never get tired of it!
|Orc Hero 1988 Chris Achilleos|
This painting was inspired by the empathy we can sometimes feel for the monster, when it is attacked and brought down by over-whelming odds.
I think no matter what your feelings are towards Orcish kind, you're definitely rooting for the big guy in this one!
As a small aside I think I have to say that Chris Achilleos has got to be pretty much my favourite fantasy artist of all time. While I was browsing the gallery on his website I spotted this painting, which I'd not come across before -
|Berserker 1989 Chris Achilleos|
Although I came across this next image much later - probably on the front cover of an old White Dwarf or of course Ravening Hordes - I can't talk about Chris Achilleos and not mention The Orcs Charge. There is not another more iconic image of a Ravening Horde that I can think of.
|The Orcs Charge 1985 Chris Achilleos|
Of course there's no mistaking John Blanche's green meanies and although I've never played Chaos Marauders, I have the 3rd ed. Warhammer Fantasy Battle rule book to thank for introducing me to the artwork.
|Chaos Marauders 1987 John Blanche|
|You gotta love them Venomous Creeps!|
|The Mighty Ugezod's Death Commandos 1985 John Blanche|
|Drastic Plastic Orcs 1986 John Blanche|
I couldn't embark on a round up of favourite fantasy artists without mentioning Gary Chalk. I must admit he was a grower on me - as a kid I wasn't convinced by his unique style. Now I love it and having immersed myself in Bloodbath at Orc's Drift for several years, these images are like old friends now.
|Bloodbath at Orc's Drift 1985 Gary Chalk|
|One of the Wood Elves of Kachas Pass meets a sticky end!|
|Magyar Ironfist - Chieftain of the Kwae Karr Tribe|
|Orcs of the Kwae Karr tribe - I wonder who does their shields and banners?|
Best not forget Gary Chalk's superb illustrations of the Orc-like Giaks from the world of Magnamund in the Lone Wolf game book series.
Another giant of the fantasy art world is Ian Miller and I've been hooked on his weird, organic and intricate style since reading the Fighting Fantasy adventure, House of Hell. The glorious front cover of the Siege rulebook showcases his take on Orcish kind in full colour. I think his chaotic imagery suits the subject matter well.
|Warhammer Siege 1988 Ian Miller|
|Uruk Hai 1979 Ian Miller|
A year or so back I did a half term's work on The Hobbit with my class, culminating in a performance of the whole story which, might I say, was done in one instalment and was a lot more faithful to the text than a certain Mr Jackson managed!
Anyway one of the more enjoyable (in a very enjoyable half term's work) jobs I had to do was find as much imagery as I could to inspire the kids with their writing, drama and artwork. One of the images that stuck with me was John Howe's painting, The Uruk Hai, which was done for the 1987 Tolkien calendar. A superb and realistic portrait of an Uruk patrol, perhaps awaiting orders on the slopes of Mordor or perhaps abroad somewhere in Middle Earth, preparing for a raid. Apparently this painting was one of three that was stolen and never recovered from a gallery in France in 1997!
|The Uruk Hai 1987 John Howe|
I can't really mention Tolkien illustrators without mentioning Alan Lee. Having never seen the edition of The Lord of the Rings that he illustrated (I obviously led a very deprived childhood!), again a lot of these images were new to me when I discovered them when researching and preparing for the Hobbit topic I mentioned earlier.
This study of a Mordor Orc and one of the Uruk Hai offers another view of these most numerous servants of Sauron.
|The Land of Shadow 1995 Alan Lee|
I'm sure there are many more iconic images and illustrations of Orcs out there - these are a few that stick in my mind.
So how about your good selves? What shocking omissions have I left out? What do you rate as being definitive depiction of an Orc?