HingesAlthough the webcomic Hinges started in 2011, Image has only recently published its first collection in print form, subtitled Clockwork City. The first book is nearly wordless and the main character, Orio, is silent until its last pages. Orio lives in Clockwork City, a steampunk-inspired village filled with marionettes who officiously manage the local community. It seemed strange to me that a human girl would be living among the marionettes until I noticed that Orio has hinges yet no strings, a feature she shares with many of her acquaintances.

Orio seems confused about what goes on in Clockwork City, but she is told that she needs to pick out an “odd,” a toy-like familiar animal that will bond with her and take on parts of her personality. Orio’s odd seems to choose her and he doesn’t look like a toy—he appears to be a real animal or imp, and a mischievous one at that. Orio gives him the name Bauble, and he proceeds to get her into constant trouble, running away from a shopkeeper and making a huge mess in a factory. Bauble then lashes out at Orio and escapes. As she searches for him, Orio comes face-to-face with a large, dangerous toy, leading to the final battle of the first volume. The pace of the storytelling is slow, which probably has a lot to do with its origin as a serialized webcomic.

In Hinges, McClaren has created a strange, intriguing world and it will be interesting to see where she takes it. Despite its slow pace, it is made worthwhile by gorgeous panels filled with toys come to life and personnel resembling big-eyed manga characters. The artist’s lines are clean and she utilizes a sepia color palate, most frequently in brown but occasionally incorporating blue and aqua tones. McClaren has an eye for perspective and the reader is immersed in a kinetic, unique world as a result.

This reader was left with many questions by the end of the first volume: why is Orio so confused about where she is and why doesn’t she talk through most of the first book? Who is Bauble and what is his place in this world? Do the stringless characters want to get their strings and what must they do to get them? Could the giant tiger toy in the final battle have been someone’s odd? To find out the answers to these questions, I’ll be reading the second volume when it comes out. Sadly, that may be a while based on the pace that the webcomic is being produced. While the book is rated for everyone, the tone and age of the characters would make this most appropriate for the teen section of the library.

Hinges: Clockwork City, vol. 1
by Meredith McClaren
Art by Meredith McClaren
ISBN: 9781632152534
Image, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Mark

    | He/Him Young Adult Librarian, Cedar Mill Library


    Mark Richardson is the Young Adult Librarian at the Cedar Mill Library in Portland Oregon where he selects adult and young adult graphic novels, YA fiction & nonfiction, video games and adult music for the library. He also plans lots of activities for local teens ranging from art contests to teen trivia to Pokemon parties. If this sounds like a dream job, it is. Sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure he really gets to do all of this. He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember and has been known to present an occasional conference sessions on graphic novels at the Oregon Library Association’s annual conference.

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