Title: Clockwork Watch: The Arrival
Writer: Corey Brotherson, Yomi Ayeni
Artwork: Jennie Gyllblad
Available From: http://www.clockworkwatch.com/the-arrival
Released: Out now
RRP: £13 inc P&P UK £18 overseas
London 1802. Indian scientist Chan Ranbir arrives in the English capital with his wife and son, Janav. Janav's fascination with this strange new world is interrupted when his father unveils his greatest achievement. A sentient clockwork man that will be Janav's new friend.
Now I love me a bit of steampunk. Victoriana, fantastic heavy machinery, airships…I’m there. Steampunk is at the Lagrange point at the moment. It’s still underground enough to be cool but big enough to make its way into more mainstream media. It encourages people to become more creative and learn skills like leather making, sewing and crafting to make their costumes but if you’re not into that, there’re enough online retailers selling great stuff to cobble together an outfit of your choice. I’m sure Nerf are quite pleased with their additional gun sales too.
Steampunk is an idea that’s being adapted to many different formats such as music with the likes of Abney Park, gatherings like The Asylum, books such as Jonathan Green’s Pax Britannia series and even films like the recent retooling of The Three Musketeers. Hey, it had massive airships in it, I liked it. So with a format as versatile as this, it makes sense to see the genre represented in comic book form.
Clockwork Watch ticks the right trope boxes for things you’d like to see: Victorian setting, steam technology, automatons and the mixture of innovation and futurism that came with the birth of the industrial revolution. It also brings a nice little twist in that the main characters are not your usual expected gentlemen inventor types but rather a family from Calcutta who have been invited to England thanks to the father’s magnificent creation – a clockwork man. The story is told primarily from the child Janav’s point of view and we see his wide-eyed revelations at London society as he’s removed from his native land. In fact I found the whole thing to be very childlike from the simplistic scripting to the artwork that wouldn’t feel out of place in a children’s story book. I don’t mean that in a detrimental way, it’s a good introduction to a new world and the story they want to tell and there are still hints of something more sinister at work with an underclass of clockwork folk, or Clocks as they’re known, that have been ‘jailbroken’ as with modern mobile phones.
As mentioned earlier, steampunk is emerging in many media formats and that seems to be the goal here too. The Arrival is the first of three proposed graphic novels “setting the scene for a three-year long transmedia experience” that the makers will hope to include interactive promenade theatre, live events, role-play, online adventures, an interactive book and feature film. The comic also comes with some great extras in the form of newspaper articles and lovely posters designed in the style of the book as well as notes on and breakdowns of the artwork and concept sketches which again tap into the DIY aesthetic of the movement, and which you can also find on their website, http://www.clockworkwatch.com/.
There is a lot of ambition here and they do well in not bombarding you with all their ideas at once and keeping the story simple and engaging. The comic has all the things I admire about steampunk: creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and friendliness and I hope they get to see all the work here come to fruition.