When I clicked onto Clockworks and saw the immense archive that has been built up for the past six years I was fully prepared to write the following:
“It strikes me as unfair to start at the beginning. When we start out, most of us cartoonists haven’t totally nailed down our visual style, our characters, or our writing. I can’t tell you how many times I land on a comic’s website, press the “first” button and let out a tiny gasp.”
But I couldn’t write that. I went to his site, went for the first page, and from there it became obvious that Shawn Gaston‘s work was on point from the very beginning.
Overview From the Website:
“Clockworks is set in the fictional world of Vheld, a steampunk fantasy world of lost magic, ancient mysteries, ether driven technology, and high adventure. So far, the story has been centered in the 5th level of Clorencia City, the capital of the Great Republic of Roumion.”
Here’s the catch though, additionally “Clockworks the comic is based on events in Clockworks the tabletop roleplaying campaign. So if our heroes ever crash and burn and fail miserably, you can blame the players.”
What I liked:
Gaston’s style is that nice blend of simplicity and complexity. It gets more refined as you read but even from the beginning the art is strong.
Speaking as a lazy cartoonist there isn’t a lot of laziness to be found here. The backgrounds, the back stories, the action is all very fleshed out. If you want a comic to sink your teeth into, you’ll find with Clockworks that it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.
I like fantasy a lot but I have to say it can be easily ruined by dialog and characters that are deadly serious all the time. This is not the case here, nobody has as stick up their butt, which for me not only makes the comic accessible, it makes it fun!
Room for improvement?
With any RPG based comic there runs a risk of the writing overpowering the comic itself. After all, the creator knows so much about the world and characters that it’s tempting to flood the pages with information. Gaston isn’t totally guilty of this but there are pages where the art is fighting a losing battle with the writing.
I thought for a long time that it was odd that “Thorton” had a quiver of arrows and a weird staff? But then I realized that Gaston simply doesn’t draw the string for the bow. Maybe it’s a magic bow? I dunno, I’d have drawn the string.
This last one is pretty minor but I’d like to see more variety in color palette, right now much of the pages have a “brownish greenish grey” feel to them and I actually think this works for the most part. But it’d be nice to see other colors mixed in there, even if just to break things up emotionally.
This is a super neat comic and one where the story is constantly in flux, but what’s really cool here is that Shawn himself is easily reached and responsive to his readers. This is a comic where control is not exclusive to the artist, so there’s room for input, suggestion, and with a setting derived from an RPG game? you can actually join in the fun! How cool is that?