Sunday 29 June 2014

Locke and Key, Vol. 1 and 2

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, 2008-2009
(June 2014)

We interrupt our scheduled programming for a spot of light relief. Well, I say ‘light’. It’s more, erm, ‘horror’. And it’s not especially relieving, either, what with, y’know’ the horror and everything. It is an interruption though, so at least there’s that.

It’s quite an enjoyable interruption as well. Not being a horror aficionado I quite liked this, despite the fact that even I could tell there were some fairly well-worn tropes knocking about (small town Americana, big old spooky house, family heirlooms hiding a dark secret, semi-orphaned kids battling against untold evils only they can see, etc etc). They’re done very well though, so the relative unoriginality isn’t an issue. More to the point, the mystery and schlock play a clear second-fiddle to the characters, who are relatable without being bland and dynamic without being stupid. Or annoyingly stupid, at any rate; two of the three Locke siblings (who are the main protagonists) are American teenagers, so a certain amount of blinkered idiocy is to be expected.

Still, it’s no worse than anything I might have done at their age, had my father been murdered by a teenaged psychopath egged on by a restless spirit trapped in the bottom of a well in the grounds of the house owned by my uncle which, following murder of said father, we find ourselves living in and who (the spirit in the well, keep up) is attempting to corrupt my little brother though the use of their androgynous wiles while simultaneously dealing with new school mates and my mother’s rapid descent into alcoholism. You gotta put yourself in their shoes, y’know?

The art ever so slightly exaggerated and cartoonish – jawlines slightly to jutting, legs slightly to long, eyes slightly to dewy – and this creates a bit of a disconnect between both the more visceral elements of the horror (the blood, the guts, the murder) and the more character based stuff (the guilt, the coercion, the psychological abuse). And while I can see how that might not work for everyone for me that slight note of dissonance worked very much in the stories favour; just another note of wrongness in amongst all the others. There are only six volumes in this series, so I’m going to have to pace myself, but I’m really looking forward to my next visit to Lovecraft.

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