Written by: Meredith McClaren
Illustrated by: Meredith McClaren
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, 112 pages, Full Color, $15.99
Clockwork City, the first graphic novel collection of Meredith McClaren's ongoing webcomic Hinges, is a deft introduction to a strange and enticing world which promises a great story to come.
A girl with hinged joints, white skin, and dark hair appears on what looks like a backstage area, with a pendant around her neck reading "Orio" (which we discover is her name). Without introduction she's quickly approached by another woman, this one suspended by strings from something unseen. The girl is rushed across this area and shoved through doors–not before picking up a strange animal companion named Bauble–and finds herself in the center of a small town, quickly meeting Alluet, her "adjustment liason." Alluet tries to find Orio work in her new home, not easy when her mischievous companion keeps causing trouble. Between these attempts, Orio has disturbing dreams involving Bauble and her clock pendant, while in the night something is stalking the citizens of the town.
Much like Orio, Hinges drops the reader into this world immediately, revealing details as the story progresses, and hinting at something larger and less benign behind the scenes. McClaren's keeps the story moving at a fast pace (sometimes a little too fast), introducing just enough to keep the reader's attention and interest.
Where the comic really shines is in the artwork. McClaren's line work is thin and expressive, giving the characters a very vibrant, fluid sense of motion. With a strong sense of flow between panels and dynamic panel structures, the art draws the reader in, making this mysterious world quickly feel fully realized and familiar, even as they're met with new elements.
There's clearly more to come with this series, and Clockwork City gives the reader just enough to bring them back to see what that is. Hinges Book 1 is suggested for readers 10 and up who enjoy fantasy stories.