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Magic-users are ticking time bombs; no matter how skilled they are, eventually the mystical energy inside them will escape its host, causing massive destruction and chaos. In the Empire of Mercia, anyone found wielding magic, be it purposefully or not, is executed. Recently, magic attacks from the Kingdom of Arcadia have struck with terrifying consequences, raising the already tense relations between the two countries. Cog Kleinschmidt, a young orphan living in the Fortress, has never worried about the conflict, enjoying his status as apprentice artisan (and lovable mischief-maker). But then he meets Alexander de Leveque, the Arcadian ambassador with a secret connection to Cog’s late father. Blackmailing him into leaving Mercia for Arcadia, Leveque plans to use Cog as a means to end the hostilities. But all is not well within Arcadia’s walls; strange things are happening, and the only one questioning them is Gaz, leader of the city beneath the city. If Cog ever wants to see Mercia again, or save it from destruction, he’ll need to be quick on his feet, and trust in the magic…
Written and drawn by Chikuto, Clockwork is an adventure story with elements of science and magic. The science fiction facet is not clearly labeled, but steampunk and alchemical aspects are present. The magic, by nature of the story, is secretive, with little known about the power or the genetic condition that gifts the host. The story starts off slow, showing Cog in his comfort zone, happy to remain in the fortress for all his life. But when he’s forced to leave Mercia, the writing picks up, steadily revealing the strange ways of the Arcadian people. So far there has not been much in the way of gore or violence, though the opening page is a murder scene.
The art is very detailed and colorful. Anatomy and proportion are correct in nature, and when characters show emotion, there is no bodily exaggeration in their movements or expressions. So while fantasy is the genre, realism is the priority, and works very well here, providing a counterpoint to Cog’s strange situation. Unique to Chikuto’s work is her use of red shading across the face. Most artists will draw their characters with one shade for face and body; Chikuto uses highlights, mimicking the look of people who spend much time in the sun or have naturally ruddy faces. Attention to detail in skin tones is rarely seen, and is refreshing to see.
Begun in 2015 and continuing strong, Clockwork is the mysterious story of a boy caught in between two worlds and the consequences of magic. You can read more of Cog’s adventures at Clockwork.com.