The graphic novel Locke and Key has been out for a while and recently released volume 6 in trade paperback. David and I have been hearing a lot about these comics and wanted to read them, but cost right now for buying them was a little much. Lucky for us I noticed that our local library was carrying all six volumes and I was able to get the first four right away. So we have been catching up on the series. First off let me say that the series is amazing and if you have not read it then you need to go out right now and get it, either bought or from your local library. This is a series that I might buy now that I have read it just because I want to own it. It is something I would read again and I have not even finished the series yet. At this point I have read through Volume 3 of the series and it is amazing.
I am someone who has not read many graphic novels and am not particularly a horror fan partly because horror tends to just be a bloody mess. Locke and Key creates a world that is intelligent, relatable, and scary beyond imagination. The things that come out of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are beautiful, horrifying, funny, and extremely clever. The more I read of the series the more I want to read.
To start out with if you have or get the trade paperback volumes of the comics, which is what you would get at this point, then you need to read the introductions. They have gotten some great authors to do the introductions and they are almost as entertaining as some the comics themselves. The introductions also do a great job of making you excited about what you are about to read and the possibilities it presents. Even if you are a cynic and say that it is paid for it does not matter because they are still very entertaining reads. Each one seems to love the story that Joe Hill is presenting and the art style of Gabriel Rodriguez. The introductions in the trade paperback of Locke and Key is a nice appetizer before the main course that is presented in the story.
As I said in the beginning I do not tend to be a horror fan, partly because a lot of times it tends to be more about the gore and gross out factor then something truly scary. That is where this story excels and the drawing style of Gabriel Rodriguez is superb. The things that are creepy to me are when you know something that the protagonist doesn’t. It is not the seen that is truly scary it is the unseen. We keep getting whispers and hints of the supernatural and yet as more is revealed the more we understand how little we really know about what is going on. The suspense of knowing, but not knowing and wondering how it is going to play out is part of what makes you want more.
The other piece is that they pulled up scaring you at points in the story. The way they drew some of the panel sequences works so well to give you a bit of a start. You are turning the page and the drawing just jumps out at you. You are so engrossed in the story and then suddenly BOO! I have read this a couple times before bed and every once in a while have to turn away because I am creeped out by something I am reading. The let the audience in so we know enough to be scared and know that the protagonists do not understand how much danger they are truly in.
The reason this story works is that they have created a convincing and detailed mythos that the world is built upon. The fact that the whole story takes place in a town called Lovecraft is just icing on the sick, demented cake that Joe Hill has built. If you do not build the story and rules around the supernatural occurrences then the story makes no sense and can often come off as a deus ex machina. Basically I need this to happen to get here so it is going to happen, but often this feels forced and most likely breaks some other foundational world rules set up earlier in the story. They have been very deliberate about how everything works with the supernatural elements of the world. Now only on the third volume I do not completely understand the consequences or the why, but I do understand the basic premise and can feel the story building to something larger. I cannot wait to see where this eventually leads.
Following Down the Trail
I do not want to reveal too much because this is a story that you have to experience for yourself. Every page just builds to one surprise after another and a world that is darker than anyone realizes. At the same time I want to follow the story down the bloody, twisted trail that it is creating and see if it ends up bathed in darkness, or whether there is a glimmer of light at the end. I think the thing that excites me is there are so many possibilities of where Joe Hill could be taking the story and I am happy to go along for the ride.