Card-Carrying Member of the Geek Squad: A Bit on LOCKE AND KEY
Growing up with brothers, I wasn’t your typical girl. I’d play with My Little Ponies one minute, then GI Joes the next. I watched the Smurfs AND climbed trees. Between the ages of seven and ten, I was completely obsessed with musicals and the X-Men. I had the trading cards. I read the comic books. I even invented my own character (I believe I shared this silly tidbit before). In short, I was a pint-size, no holds barred, card-carrying member of the Geek Squad.
There was this little convenience store/hardware store/video store (seriously). The owner also tried to push EVERYONE to buy lotto tickets, even going so far to tape a GIANT handwritten sign onto his sweater vest. Try to keep a straight face while checking out, and you CAN’T. It’s physically impossible.
Anyway, there two distinctly awesome things about that store. 1) There were the only place that sold PURPLE (grape flavored!) gummy fish. You probably call them Swedish Fish. And 2) tucked in the corner, there was a giant spinning rack of comics. Each time I went in with my mother, I was allowed to pick out ONE. It was like trying to select a single star from the sky (a sky made of AWESOME), but I managed. (It should come as no surprise that I was also BATGIRL for Halloween, once. )
Somewhere along the line, though, I lost my love for comic books. I don’t know why. Maybe it was when the killed off Superman. I don’t know. But I just…stopped reading them. Then the convenience store closed (it’s now a chain store, which is great – but less like some secret treasure, a distant cousin to the Wardrobe of Narnia, where you could discover untold awesomeness – like a New Kids on the Block lunch box, or possibly radioactive glitter, or freakin’ UNICO and the Magic Pony movies). The one local comic shop my brother frequented has also closed, reopening somewhere beyond an hour’s drive.
Up until last year, I hadn’t read a comic book in…roughly sixteen years. It wasn’t until Locke and Key caught my attention (thanks in no small part due to Twitter) that I read another comic. Of course, the technical term is probably graphic novel, but I don’t care what you call it – L&K? Is wonderful.
For those who don’t know the basic premise, it’s this: after a gruesome murder, a family (a parent and three kids) returns to their father’s childhood home (Key House) – in Lovecraft (nod to HP) New England. Key House is full of surprises, monsters, and (yes) KEYS (you can buy them!). The keys each do different, sometimes terrifying things. There’s also a very creepy music box that I secretly want to own, although I suspect it would give me nightmares (like Poltergeist did, after that bit with the tree crashing through the window – and the CLOWN)
Each story is so very intriguing, with so many twists and surprises. I won’t discuss them, because I don’t want to spoil. But suffice to say, I have exclaimed, “Oh my god – what? No! Really?” at least a dozen times. A couple of days ago, I finished reading KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, and the end of it had such an awesome, “HOLY FRAKKIN’ HELL” moment. It was great.
Written by Joe Hill, whose novel heart-shaped box is wonderfully scary, you will love the Locke kids, who get in and out of trouble at regular intervals. There are times where you will shout at the book, because you KNOW that danger’s right there – but dramatic irony reigns supreme. LOCKE AND KEY will enthrall you, terrify you, make you laugh, and keep you up reading into the wee hours of the morning (I promise).
The series is illustrated by Gabriel Rodrigeuez who brings the terrors of the Locke family to life with a deft hand. Few people could render nightmares so expertly, a villain’s smile so perfectly wicked, or a kid’s hopeful curiosity so lovingly. In his hands, Key House is an inviting, but scary place, perfect for exploration and adventure, if it weren’t for the evil shadows, animal attacks, and that well. (A huge part of me wants someone to build Key House. I would love to be able to wander through the halls.)
LOCKE AND KEY made me love comics again. I’ve got a stack of SANDMAN to read, and I have the graphic novel version of THE LAST UNICORN. I’m still the girl who invented her own X-Men character, who wanted to be a superhero, and who still climbs trees whenever the opportunity presents itself. Reading comics is like returning home, and you thank Joe Hill and Gabe Rodrigeuz for that.
If you haven’t read L&K, do it. You won’t regret it.