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Writer: David Pepose Art: Jorge Santiago, Jr. Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Spencer & Locke, Vol. 1 (tpb), cover, Action Lab Entertainment, Pepose/Santiago, Jr.


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.


(Minor Spoilers)

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


  • Murder, cursing, adult themes (though you were warned on the front cover!)

  • Spencer driving? How?

Spencer & Locke, Vol. 1 (tpb), page 14, Action Lab Entertainment, Pepose/Santiago, Jr.


Spencer & Locke is an immensely enjoyable and well made detective story with a fresh, new spin. Fans of crime noir must pick this up.


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


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


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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

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