Saturday, 18 August 2012

Key Notes

So it's seemed like an absolute age but Volume 5 of Locke & Key finally arrived and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd evangelise about it a little. I know it's well respected but this deserves to have a far higher profile as it is without doubt one of the strongest comics you'll ever read.

I first picked up the first hardcover (and these hardcovers are beautiful items in and of themselves) when searching for something new and decent to read after becoming disillusioned with mainstream US comics (read: Marvel and DC and their over-corporatisation). I remember dithering for a while as I wasn't sure I could take to the slightly cartoony art: I need to be able to enjoy the art to really enjoy a comic but I finally caved and took a chance.

I started reading the collection and found I couldn't put it down. Joe Hill's writing is well structured, full of great characterisation and is utterly absorbing, drawing you in to discover the compelling mysteries within. Initially dubious about Gabriel Rodriguez' art, I'm now a huge fan. His crisp, precise lines and beautiful sense of design make the book both a joy to look at and totally convincing and easy to follow. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out, the art never fails to clearly and fully deliver the needs of the story.

So, the story: when Rendell Locke is killed, his widow and three children (teenagers Tyler and Kinsey and young Bode) return to his ancestral home of Keyhouse. There, the children start to learn of numerous keys hidden throughout the house, each with a unique property: various attributes being able to switch genders, become a ghost and to literally pluck out memories and emotions.

Things are never simple though as a mysterious supernatural presence lies in the grounds of Keyhouse, waiting to complete a long-delayed plan of destruction.

A (sadly) finite (but therefore complete) tightly plotted tale with consistent art that suffers from no fill ins, Locke & Key stands as a truly great tale of dark fantasy and a striking example of what dedicated and uninterrupted work from creators can result in.

Eisner-nominated and nearly adapted into a live action series (the pilot has been widely praised but the network felt it didn't sit well with the rest of their upcoming schedule), the final volume is set to start serialisation later this year, ending the story we unortunately never got to see on TV. Don't dodge the bullet and do yourself a real favour: pick up Locke & Key, you won't be disappointed...


Rol said...

I've enjoyed Joe Hill's prose but never really got into L&K. Should give it another try when I next have some money. Whenever that might be.

Nige Lowrey said...

I'll get around to that Box of Evil or Heart in a Box or whatever it's called novel one day...though I think you said it fell a bit at the end...?

Rol said...

Yeah - I preferred Horns, which was darkly comic at the beginning but went off in completely unexpected directions. The idea of Daniel Radcliffe being cast in the lead role has me gagging though.