So you may have noticed that there’s another page up this week.
In light of the overwhelming response from my readers, I’ve decided to keep the Clockwork Game archives online and run the remainder of the first chapter of the book. As things go along, I’ll add links and additional information to the footnotes and bibliography to help make up for what I consider gaps in my storytelling. After that — I’m still not sure, but after some very positive reviews from people whose opinions I trust, and a lot more heavy thinking, I’m reconsidering my stance on permanently ending the book. Let’s call it a hiatus for now; the end of the first chapter’s a good stopping point. In any event, I need to pull back and do a lot more reading and researching, then re-evaluate the first half of the book to see if it’s something I can fix to better match the much darker tone of the second half.
It’s not that I don’t want to discuss the ugly parts of history, or cover them over. Just the opposite, in fact: the problem I have with the script is that I’m don’t show enough of the ugliness of the time. I’ve unintentionally left issues unaddressed — important issues — like the fact that Kempelen was in charge of resettling areas of the Banat taken back from the Ottomans, that 18th century Europeans appropriated Turkish culture for both its stylishness and mysteriousness, and that the Austrian Empire was still at war with the Ottoman Empire, all of which undoubtedly contributed to Kempelen’s decision to dress the automaton as he did. Painting it as “just an automaton” — not presenting enough information about the cultural baggage surrounding its design in favor of a light story focusing only on man versus machine — now seems disingenuous to me. That’s the “framing within historical context” I’ve been talking about. I’m not sure if I can get enough of that information into the first half of the book as it stands now, at least not without redrawing huge chunks of it. I’m also not well-versed on these topics yet — not enough to make changes to the script until I’ve had the chance to better inform myself and become more confident in my understanding of the political and social pressures at play — and to get to that point, I’ve got to put the book on hold.
I also want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time and effort to comment or send email, with both positive and negative feedback. I had no idea that Clockwork Game had so many passionate, caring, intelligent readers — it’s meant so much to hear all your responses. Creating a webcomic is a high-wire act, and it’s humbling to discover there are so many people holding the net below me.