Graphic Novel Review: Locke & Key, Volume One: Welcome to Lovecraft
Collecting: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1-6
Original Release Date: 2008
Publisher: IDW Comics
Characters: The Lockes (Tyler, Kinsey, Bode, Nina), Sam Lesser
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):
Storyline – 8
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 9
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 10
Fluidity – 7
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 8
In the wake of Halloween, I found it only fitting to review one of the best Horror/Mystery comics of all time, Locke & Key. Having read it for the first time before reviewing it, there was a lot of hype for these books to live up to, as it has garnered quite the cult following amongst avid readers – yet, at the same time, not many comic book readers I know read the series. What I will try to give you is my opinion from the point of view of a person that just loves good stories, whether they have pictures or not. If being connected to previous comics or superheroes is a must for you, then I can already tell you that this will not be the book for you. Sometimes, you need to let go of all you came into reading with and just experience something new.
Welcome to Lovecraft introduces us to a family recovering from tragedy. The Lockes have just moved across the country to Keyhouse, a large manor that they used as a summer home in Lovecraft, Massechutesetts. This is all fallout from when the father in the family, Rendell, was shot in the face by one of his students, also a classmate of Tyler’s, Sam Lesser. At first, it seems like just another crazy murder, but as we find out, Keyhouse is more than it appears to be. Bode, the youngest of the family, finds out that you can turn into a ghost by walking through a certain door. No joke, he dies and becomes a spirit – at will.
The story can be a bit difficult to follow at first, especially since most of the first issue shoots back between flashbacks and the present day, but it becomes easier once the backstory has been built. While it is innately a horror book, there is plenty of humor to keep the mood light when people aren’t being murdered. Bode’s time as a ghost crosses the genre from horror to fantasy, as he experiences the spirit state with child-like naivety, and is one of the best parts of the book. We also get a good chance to bond with the new characters, a nod to some great writing of internal monologue from a family that has just had their father murdered. But, like in any great horror story, something that starts out cute and innocent turns out to be the doom of them all. Bode’s innocent friend Echo ends up having a mystical connection with Sam, Rendell Locke’s murderer. And he is coming back for more.
General Reception: Locke & Key has found quite the cult following among readers. It’s a fun ride, and legitimately frightening in the art and story-telling aspects. Take your chances on the critically acclaimed series that has an Eisner Award for Best Writing attached to it. They’ve even tried making a television series of the book; a trailer can be found below. FOX axed the series (no surprises there) in 2011, but Locke & Key has since been revived by Universal and a full-length film is in development.
Related Books: After finishing Welcome to Lovecraft, I would recommend jumping right into the second book, Head Games. Other good horror comics on the market right now are: The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, The Walking Dead (although I don’t consider this a horror series anymore) by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, American Vampire by Scott Synder and the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
More by the writer: It helps when your writer is actually a novelist. And it helps when that novelist is the son of the King of Horror, Stephen King. Joe Hill has written several award winning horror books and short stories, among them: 20th Century Ghosts, Heart-Shaped Box, and his best-selling novel that was just published in April 2013, NOS4A2 (Nosferatu, get it?). While he has written a couple of other one-shot comics, he has been almost exclusively dedicated to Locke & Key since its inception in 2008.
More by the artist: Like Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez really hasn’t done much else in terms of big projects, although he has drawn a number of other IDW comics, including: Transformers and CSI. His style actually reminded me a little bit of Chris Burnham’s Batman: Incorporated, a style that I feel did not work as well for Batman as it did here.
*Screenshots taken directly from comic book using Comixology app. Credit to IDW Comics for the images.
Written by Sherif Elkhatib