Apr 9, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 44: The Clockmaker #2, February 2003


A return, then, to the world of The Clockmaker, a title that comes very clearly into focus in this second issue. The comic continues the magazine format folded in half, and once again this makes for some stunning visuals. There's slightly more plot in this issue. I say slightly because I'm getting the impression that the novelty of the format is privileging the art over the story in this case. I know it's only 2 issues in, but I don't have a clear sense of Hans and Astrid, who I'm assuming are our two main characters. And I would lay the culpability for this lack of knowledge on the greater emphasis on the art and design of the book. There is one character that has been fleshed out really nicely through the art, and that is the clockworks itself. If we consider it as a character, and there's some hinting of a kind of consciousness within the works, then we see a character that is mute but speaks vividly through depiction. This raises an interesting question, one that I was bandying about with my posts on Ditko's Shade: how do we distinguish settings that are simply background from settings that are characters in and of themselves? I'm thinking here of the various depictions of the realm of dream in The Sandman, always shifting and moving, in many ways defining the possibilities of action for the anthropomorphic characters, but very definitely a character in and of itself. Ditko's backgrounds, especially in the "Zero Zone" gave me the same impression.

I'll have to keep an eye out for backgrounds that are more than backgrounds, or rather, settings that are more than settings, that are characters in their own right. This further leads us to think about how we define character and setting in comics.

See you tomorrow.

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