Meredith McClaren’s series Hinges started its life on Kickstarter, where the first book got funding to be brought into the physical world in late May of 2013. Now the book, Clockwork City, has been published by Image Comics.
Book one was interesting, a good beginning and setup for the series and the whole world it’s happening in.
Orio, a slim doll with black hair and eyes and a porcelain complexion, wakes in the magistrate’s office and chooses an Odd named Bauble. Bauble is a tiny mammalian creature, like a cat or a flying squirrel, with a tiny mask and eyes like opals. Odds are familiars, and everyone in Cobble, the clockwork city, has them.
Everyone is a doll. Like, vaguely body-horror dolls. They’re held together by bolts and string with hands floating just over their wrists.
All of their familiars are plushies, too: a raven, a bluebird, an owl. All familiars have button eyes and are bursting with stuffing and affection for their doll.
So, it’s definitely a little strange that Bauble looks biological.
Orio wakes, frightened and almost totally mute, and is hurried through choosing clothes and Bauble, though no one else is sure what to make of Bauble. The magistrate gives her a list of jobs she’s allowed to interview for, and Bauble manages to ruin every single store, dashing Orio’s hopes for work.
The scene was pretty reminiscent of the montage in Lilo and Stitch, with Stitch ruining everything and keeping Nani from getting a job.
Eventually it turns out that Orio is fantastic at mending, something reasonably essential for a town full of sentient toys.
However, it causes a stir with the bureaucratic magistrate who has a very specific, unknown system that the worker at the front desk assures Orio means that she can’t possibly be good at mending, and it doesn’t matter, anyway. If it’s not on the list, it’s not for her.
Books two and three are where the series becomes really interesting. Orio is attacked by a tiger made of paper, Bauble is stolen by the magistrate, and some creepy men in suits mention bleeding, an impossible concept. Orio runs off, and the tiny world of Cobble widens and changes and becomes more terrifying and beautiful.
The art itself is jarring, all hard lines and chaotic action. Since Orio rarely talks, her face and movements speak for her. She has an entire conversation with a pub owner, whose rust-riddled torso she fixes, with only facial expressions and body movement.
Some eyes are too blank, like Bauble’s blank, clouded eyes, or like Orio’s liason, Aluett, whose eyes have too many rings in the irises, giving her the appearance of mania. It’s only more gorgeous in book two, Paper Tigers, where hanging moss and mosaic glass windows redraw the world in rainbows.
I definitely think this might turn into a reasonably popular post-apocalyptic dystopian story, but only in terms of the plot. It’s the characters that will set Hinges apart from the rest of the genre. Orio and Bauble, especially.
The comic updates every Monday and Friday at hingescomic.blogspot.com, though McClaren has updated earlier so as to deliver a well-timed emotional punch so her audience won’t live in denial for a few days.