"Clockwork Girl" – Arcana's High-Tech "Romeo & Juliet"

Many tales have tackled the theme of Man versus Machine, with man typically being the winner. In the 19th century, the character John Henry fought against the steam engine and triumphed. Modern versions of this story have man battling Terminators and Cylons and, naturally, man gets to win in both of these situations as well.

But how about a man and machine love story?

Can man love a machine? Can a machine love a man? Must there always be conflict? These are just some of the questions raised, although in decidedly cute and fun ways, in Arcana Studio's new comic "Clockwork Girl." Co-written by Arcana EiC and "Kade" author Sean O'Reilly and Kevin Hanna with art by Grant Bond ("Revere"), "Clockwork Girl" tells the story of two warring science "families;" one who believes technology is the superior science, and one who backs biology.

As tends to happen in these situations, innocents are caught in the middle. The particular innocents in this story are the two families' kids: a mutant boy and the titular Clockwork Girl. The tale kicks off with a 25 cents issue #0 this July, with a limited four-issue run to follow. CBR News caught up with the creators of this project to find out more about "Clockwork Girl" and what kinds of fun readers can expect.

Tell us a little about "Clockwork Girl," Sean.

Sean O'Reilly: A nameless robot girl has recently been given the gift of life from her creator. While exploring the wonders of an ordinary world, she meets an amazing mutant boy and they share a friendship that must overcome their warring families.

The Tinker is the Clockwork Girl's creator and the world's leading machine scientist. He blames the natural sciences for holding back the machine age with a zealous fervor.

Dendrus is the Tinker's former friend, chief rival and the creator of Huxley, the monster boy. He cares for his "son" a great deal, but is overly protective and shelters his son as much as he can.

Huxley, the monster boy, is just like every other pre-adolescent boy, only more so. He's reckless and emotional, impulsive, but has a good heart. He wants to be free of his father's restrictions regardless if the world is ready for him.

The Clockwork Girl is innocent, curious, but not stupid. She looks at strangers like a kid in a candy store and wants to know everything about this new world around her.

T-Bolt is the Clockwork Girl's older "brother" and the Tinker's first automaton. He's not as primitive as he might appear, nor as a harmless.

Maddox is Huxley's best friend, and the only sane one in the entire story. He likes apples.

In a sense, the story sounds a bit like "Romeo and Juliet" in that two people can't be together because of their warring families.

SO: "Romeo and Juliet" was definitely an inspiration in this project. Another big influence for me on this was my biological education and the transition I made in my life towards technology. My first degree is in biology and physics, while my training and experience have been in technology. It was the blending of these two disciplines that I had fun with in creating some of the world and defining some of the characters. In addition, "Kade" has been getting darker and darker – and I don't foresee it letting up – and I really needed an all-ages outlet where I could tell a tale that my daughter and her friends could read.

It's always nice to be able to share your work with your kids. I know the 25 cents issue will be out in July, but what is the plan for this property? As you said, it seemsvery kid-friendly.

SO: "Clockwork Girl" is a true passion project that Kevin and I have been working on for nearly two years. This four-issue limited series is a fun and engaging all-ages book that will definitely be kid-friendly from start to finish. It's also going to be an opportunity where, in the 25 cents issue, I'll be putting a lesson plan in so that teachers are able to use this in their classroom. I taught middle school for eight years and have completed my M.Sc. in Educational Leadership, and it's nice to bring both of my interests and passions together in this project.

How did the three of you come together on this project? Who kicked it off?

SO: Kevin has been the heart of this project and I hope I have provided a suitable environment that has allowed the property to grow.

Kevin Hanna: I had done a 3D image of an old character of mine that garnered a lot of attention. Sean basically said, "Do you have any project for him? If you do, we should do something with it."

So I said, "Sure!" and that I would email my synopsis to him. I, of course, had nothing, so I drove to the book store to do some research when every idea that I've had in my head from the last ten years all condensed into one cohesive story. Sean then took my rough, goofy idea and put soul into that skeleton. After a false start with a great – but way behind – schedule, artist Grant Bond came like an answer to our prayers and put meat on those bones.

I've seen a few illustrations for this series, and a couple of the images appear computer-generated. Is that for the covers, interiors, or just for fun?

SO: All the CG stuff so far have been images I created to establish the characters. Those will be the alternate covers of each issue and each feature a different character in 3D. As well as in the #0 issue, I'll do a mini "behind the scenes" peek at how I make 3D characters.

We are all moving forward on a "Clockwork Girl" animated short too, but we'll leave that one up in the air for the moment.

If it looks as good as the computer-animated images I've seen, I can't wait!

Kevin, I read a bio that said you've worked in comic books, video games, and film production-- including the Red Hot Chili Peppers' music video "Californication." It also said you were a founding member of the Xbox team, and that you're currently the Art Director for Disney Interactive. Is all of this info current?

KH: Yep, that's me. Like the bio says, I worked on "Starship Troopers," "Max Steel," countless video games and a Chili Pepper video with directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of "Little Miss Sunshine" fame. As far as comics, up till now it's been mostly underground, like my online comic "Frog Children," some anthologies and a few small print books like "Mostly Acquisitions" and the familiarly named "Clockwork Girls Hate Electronic Boys."

As an Art Director at Disney Interactive I establish the look and supervise the production for video games like "Narnia," "Chicken Little: Ace in Action," "Meet the Robinsons," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and dozens of others. It's a fantastic job. How many people can say they've played Davy Jones' pipe organ and hid in the Wardrobe?

Not many. I also used to work at Disney Studios at one time. Before I took my job, they made me sign an agreement that basically said the studio got first crack at owning anything I created during my employment there. Are you under the same kind of agreement? Does Disney have dibs on "Clockwork Girl"?

KH: "Clockwork Girl" was fully scripted and had been around before I started work with the Disney, so Sean and I own it entirely. However, I do love Disney and have a great relationship with many people there. If they want to give "Clockwork Girl" a home in other mediums, then I'm totally open to it.

Grant, what attracted you to this project? Your art has a very fun style to it ­ almost cartoon-like, but not quite. What tone are you striving for with this project?

Grant Bond: I believe Sean had seen some artwork I did for "Edgar Allan Poo," a webcomic and soon-to-be graphic novel for Image's Shadowline by Dwight L. MacPherson. It has sort of the same feel that he was looking for, and he approached me about doing "Clockwork Girl." I originally thought of Miyazaki's work when I approached the project. Kevin even had some references that pointed to his work as well. That sort of Victorian era feeling in some of Miyazaki's work seemed to fit nicely with the premise of the "Clockwork Girl" story.

In a sense, this book is asking you to draw everything ­ from mutant monsters to robots and whirly techno-thingies. Which did you find to be more of a challenge?

GB: By far it is the whirly techno-thingies. My background in art and most of my work has a very organic feel to it, if that makes any sense. Drawing gears empties my aspirin bottle.

So now that we know what about the book gives you the biggest headaches, but what excites you the most about "Clockwork Girl"?

GB: I would say just getting the chance to work on art that might have a bit more of a diverse feel to the previous work I have done. My goal is to grow as a creator, and stepping into a project like "Clockwork Girl" is a perfect way to do that.

KH: For me, it's the reactions of the readers, parents and kids especially. So far, kids have loved it. We are trying to do a story that, while aimed at children, is engrossing enough for all of us. "Clockwork Girl" deals with the universal themes of life, family and ambition that resonate with all of us.

SO: What excites me is the grassroots approach to be able to make a story with lasting legs and the chance to continue to develop it beyond comics.

It seems as though Arcana has done lots of diversifying along those lines, between "Dragon's Lair," "The Art of Reboot," "Kade," and "GearHead." What is the ultimate vision for Arcana? And how does "Clockwork Girl" contribute to that vision?

SO: Truthfully, "Clockwork Girl" is at the heart of the vision for Arcana. We want to tell engaging stories and make great comic books, but I also want to develop properties and stories that can be told in various mediums. When I hooked up with Kevin Hanna, I really knew it was something special and that we would be able to get this story told as a short film because of his incredible talents. Kevin and I have been using the comic as a story guide and we are aiming for the moon on this one. I think that's really the heart of Arcana: ambition and collaboration in telling a great story.

Arcana publishes another 25 cents book this summer with "Kade: Shiva's Sun," written by Sean O'Reilly and illustrated by Stjepan Sejic with covers by Greg Horn. In O'Reilly's words, "Shiva's Sun" is going to be the best Kade series ever. "It's been fifty years since the Death of Ezra, and Kade is lost within himself in the middle of royal war," O'Reilly said.

More of Grant Bond's work can be seen in the "Revere" collected edition hardback, arriving in stores at the end of July from ASP. The collected edition will feature an extended ending to the story, and ASP will run a second "Revere" series towards the end of the year. Bond can also be found in July's edition of "Gene Simmons' House of Horrors" from IDW.

The 25 cents "Clockwork Girl" #0 ships to comic stores this July.

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