Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the Orcs in Space collected trade! What will readers have in store with this new collected edition?
François Vigneault: Thanks so much! It’s really great to have the first book coming out finally. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed back this release by a whole year, so suffice it to say I’m tickled to have these stories of the orcs Kravis, Mongtar, and Gor (as well as their friends and foes) appearing in bookstores.
Orcs in Space is a classic fish-out-of-water tale: Three outcast orcs from a primitive planet called Muckball suddenly find themselves in possession of the most advanced spaceship in the Galactigon. Aided in no small part by D.O.N.A., the increasingly independent artificial intelligence who runs the ship, the orcs soon find themselves facing off against technology that’s indistinguishable from magic, spacefaring bureaucrats, thumb-sucking bounty hunters, and steampunk Space Rats. Mayhem ensues! Orcs in Space is a great series for fans of old-school comedy adventure stories like classic TMNT, Dungeons & Dragons, Red Dwarf, and, of course, Rick and Morty.
BD: In looking back at the development and creation of the series, what can you share with us about your creative process in working with writers Justin Roiland, Michael Tanner, Rashad Gheith, and Abed Gheith that really made this series unique?
FV: I think one of the elements that makes this collaboration so unique is simply the fact that there are so many voices introducing ideas and influences into the process. Justin, Mike, Rashad, and Abed have been working on Orcs in Space in one way or another for quite a few years now, and I think you can really sense the mash-up of styles, genres, and tropes going into the book from their “writers room” approach, each of them is bringing different things to the table. Then for my part, as the artist of the book, I am sort of the filter that all this creative energy is passing through. Working with colorists DJ Chavis and Dave Pender, my job is to shape all these wild and crazy ideas into a fully-fleshed comics narrative. I have been really lucky in that the writers and our intrepid editor at Oni Press, Amanda Meadows, have trusted me to bring the universe of Orcs in Space to life in my own unique way. One great thing is that the writers are riffing on themes and tropes that have been near and dear to me for decades, ever since I was a RPG-playing kid drawing my own mash-up versions of fantasy monsters fighting futuristic robots waaaayyyy back in the 1990s!
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums - even out-of-this-world sci-fi comedies! How do you feel that Orcs in Space’s story has connected with and impacted readers throughout its run?
FV: I love this concept, and I couldn’t agree more that all sorts of stories can have a surprising and unforeseen impact going out into the world, even something as seemingly light as Orcs in Space! Often when I am working on this series, I am brought back to the stories that influenced me as a young, shy, and awkward kid; adventure comics like Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Mark Rogers’ Samurai Cat, and Jeff Smith’s BONE. Those series had a profound and permanent effect on me; not only did they provide me with rich and fantastic worlds that I could escape into when my everyday life was tough (and it could often be tough), but those stories and creators also gave me positive artistic role models and inspired me to tell my own stories using words and pictures. I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be the creator I am today without the influence those stories had on me early on. It feels strange and frankly humbling to say it, but I think it is possible that my work on Orcs in Space might inspire and influence budding new creators, as well. You never know what unexpected impacts a story might have once you release it out into the world. And if the stories I tell inspire even one young person to tell their own tale and share it with the world, then I’ll feel I have succeeded!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
FV: Currently, I am deep into working on the next two arcs of Orcs in Space, which will be serialized in the monthly comic series over the next year and will have two additional collections in bookshops in 2022, with volume 2 hitting stores in February. For any readers who enjoyed the first arc of Orcs in Space, I think I can say without any false modesty that the series really just keeps getting better. The writing team just keeps leveling up the action, the humor, and the insanity, and I think I’m really hitting my stride with the artwork, as well—I think people are gonna dig it.
I would also be remiss not to mention my next graphic novel, which I have been carving out time to work on whenever I can: Blue Moon is a sci-fi thriller, very much in line with my first book, TITAN, in that it mixes some pretty harsh critiques of society with plenty of nail-biting action. I sometimes describe it as “Bladerunner by way of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.” I’m hard at work on it and hopefully Blue Moon will be completed in 2023.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Orcs in Space and your other work?
FV: Readers who want to see more of my work can always find me posting on Instagram as @francoisvigneault, and I also have a monthly email newsletter they can sign up for on my website, francois-vigneault.com.