Writer: David Pepose Art: Jorge Santiago, Jr. Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
WHAT IS IT?
Half noir-ish detective story and half dysfunctional Calvin and Hobbes, it's as much a crime story as it is a man coming to terms with his tumultuous past.
Imagine Chinatown, but if the main character had a lot of unresolved issues and imagined his childhood friend/stuffed animal was his partner.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Spencer and Locke are called to the scene of a murder. Well, Locke is. He's the detective. Spencer's just his "childhood friend," a stuffed animal that Locke imagines is his partner. Locke might have a screw or two loose, but he seems to be getting by.
The vic is Sophie, Locke’s childhood friend. Locke seems haunted by the ghost of his past, and seeing an old face, one who shared in a little of that misery, makes him want to solve her murder all the more.
Little does Locke know how much of that past still hasn’t come back to haunt him. But he’s about to see — this crime is as rooted in his history as his imaginary friend.
The big schtick is it's like Calvin and Hobbes, if Calvin's life were disastrous, and he grew up to solve crimes
The comic opens with a Calvin & Hobbes riff to put you in the mind of them, but immediately punches you in the gut with the adult themes and gritty tone of the real world
Even the name, Spencer & Locke, is a nod to "Calvin and Hobbes"
Speaking of which, the noir tone of the comic is perfect, and the creative team weaves it together with the Calvin and Hobbes aesthetic in a way that feels simple and natural
You can definitely tell the entire creative team are fans of the genre, because the writing, shading, moody colors and lettering effects fit right in with the noir tone
Jasen Smith’s color palette bridges and juxtaposes the happy, Sunday funnies cartoon colors with moody noir, and it pays dividends for the book (see below for a great example of this)
Issue #3, especially, lets him really break from the noir palette in favor of a more phosphorescent Matt Wilson glow
In fact, the 3rd issue shows impressive range for the entire creative team, with bright and brilliant colors, alien languages, a different genre to draw, rising action and varied sound effects
Colin Bell's lettering in this comic shows truly impressive range and skill, and it felt like he had a lot of fun with it
It's good to see PTSD and a history of trauma represented in a way that's interesting without being Hollywood-ized
Other things I really enjoyed:
The “Mature Readers” and “T+” on the front cover makes it obvious who the audience should be
Locke's mom calling him a "son of a bitch" is all you need to know to characterize her
Spencer's childish idiosyncrasies, like drinking from a juice box
Parkwood Central School being defaced to say "Parkweed" just felt so real
Chad Cicconi's changing credit each issue
The absolutely perfect closing line of the volume
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Murder, cursing, adult themes (though you were warned on the front cover!)
Spencer driving? How?
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Spencer & Locke is an immensely enjoyable and well made detective story with a fresh, new spin. Fans of crime noir must pick this up.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Spencer & Locke 2 by David Pepose & Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Sin City by Frank Miller
If you like the art:
Curse of the Eel by Jorge Santiago, Jr.
Criminal by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Deadbeat by Jed McPherson & Chris Shehan
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David Pepose – Writer
Multitalented: Currently developing properties for film, TV & comics out in LA
Has also worked for CBS, Netflix, Universal Studios and DC Comics
Originally from St. Louis, where your favorite Comic Book Yeti lives
Jorge Santiago, Jr. – Artist
Has a career in graphic design
Has been "training in the comics arts" since he was 17
Jasen Smith – Colorist
Multitalented: Has also been a newspaper writer, cartoonist, voice jockey and a freelance graphic designer
Has been working as a full-time colorist since 2013
Colin Bell – Letterer
Multitalented: Has also written a couple comics, one of which (Dungeon Fun) won a SICBA award
Outlander: Lives in Scotland
Nicole D'Andria – Editor
Multitalented: Has adapted one of my daughter's favorite shows, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir, to comics
Also is marketing director and submissions editor for Action Lab Entertainment, and writes articles for Comic Frontline
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
From Your Local Comic Store
From the Publisher, Action Lab Entertainment
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