You know the drill here folks. Pepose/Santiago Jr/Smith/Bell teamed up to bring you a stupid amazing sequel to a ridiculously amazing first volume of Spencer & Locke. The skinny is this: Heavily traumatized Locke has grown up and now hangs on to the one comfort he has in Spencer [the imaginary visage/embodiment of his stuffed animal from childhood] as he faces the adult world. In the second volume we see Locke face off against Roach, who is in many ways a mirror image of himself. Writer David Pepose was gracious enough to give us a fistful of answers in regards to to the overall S&L story and some of the thought process in bringing them to the page.
For you, as a writer, what was the biggest challenge in following up the first volume of S&L? When you create an end product that is about as creatively perfect as you can get, it has to be daunting to go back and continue …
Well, first off, thank you for saying that! To be honest, with SPENCER & LOCKE 2, it was actually a comfort to go back and not just reexamine these characters that I had grown to love, but to reunite with a creative team as brilliant as Jorge Santiago, Jr., Jasen Smith and Colin Bell. Every series is always rolling the dice as you get to feel out your team and the themes of the book, so being able to build upon the foundation and team dynamics that we had established in our first volume was such an incredible gift for me as a writer. And I think that helped me overcome my biggest challenge with the series, which was just to keep building on Spencer and Locke’s unique partnership and history together — when you’re working with a team as stacked as Jorge, Jasen and Colin, it really inspires you to bring your A-game to every page and to just take as many big and crazy swings as possible.
How much of Roach was a reflection of Locke? The parallels for Roach with the militant angle/PTSD are given, but it really felt like more than that.
Roach is definitely the dark side of Locke’s unique pathology — while Locke developed his imaginary friend Spencer to cope with a lifetime of trauma and abuse, I always felt that Roach had sustained just as much pain and suffering but in a much more accelerated time frame. Roach is what Locke would become without a sense of hope — but because of that hopelessness, I think that means Roach has leaned into his violent streak, utilizing his military training and advanced weaponry to evangelize a darker sort of gospel. At the end of the day, Roach does think he’s doing us a favor — because to him, once you’ve had the worst day of your life, nothing else can touch you.
When you were forming this second arc, what was the bridge between the two stories? The connective tissues can be felt but what was the interlocking piece for you as you wrote it?
I remember when the first SPENCER & LOCKE came out, and there were a few people who said that there was no way that someone as fundamentally broken as Locke would ever be allowed to become a cop — and so with Volume 2, I really wanted to explore the real-world implications of how society might respond to someone who bent and broke the rules as much as he does. I think the overarching ethos of SPENCER & LOCKE has been that nothing happens in a vacuum — we’re not beholden to bringing things back to any sort of equilibrium, so Spencer and Locke can keep evolving and changing with each new case. These things should always be personal, and even in victory, we always want there to be some sort of cost. And I also just think that the conceit of using the entire funny pages was a really natural way to keep our strip going — there are so many archetypical comic strip characters to parody, and each one lends themselves to a different kind of story.
This second volume really started to build up the supporting cast outside of Spencer. How much is out there to be explored with them?
That’s the best part of expanding our series the way we have — there’s so much room for new characters, and expanding on the characters that already exist in our series. Star reporter Melinda Mercury was a really fun character to explore in this series, as our riff on Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr, and Hal and Lana, our take on Mort Walker’s Hi and Lois, really provided some nice background for the whole series. I’d also say for sure keep an eye out on Locke’s daughter Hero — she’s our secret weapon in this book, and I think she’s just as much depth to explore as her troubled dad.
Seeing it all wrapped up, how do you view the series? Did you accomplish what you wanted, and did maybe something else evolve along the way as well? … and of course, VOL 3, eh?
We set out to make SPENCER & LOCKE 2 our Dark Knight, our Empire Strikes Back, and I really think we stuck the landing on it. I’m so proud of how this series has progressed, and seeing how well Spencer and Locke’s struggles paralleled other comic strip legends only gives me hope for how our series might progress down the road. While I cannot confirm or deny a SPENCER & LOCKE 3 just yet, rest assured Jorge and I have been talking about exactly where our story should go from here, with some icons that are even more legendary than even Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey. But either way, SPENCER & LOCKE fans should definitely keep an ear to the ground, because we might have some very exciting news to share with them sooner rather than later…
There we have it folks. Again, a huge thank you to David Pepose for taking the time to entertain a fistful of questions about the hit series Spencer and Locke. If you’re new to this creative team you’ve got an absolute perfect chance to jump on board with the second volume hitting shelves all nice and collected for you. While you can read vol 2 in isolation I strongly urge you to seek out vol 1 and read them together. It is self-contained yes, but there is so much more [as you can see from the Q/A] that you’ll get out of the experience if you take in the entirety of it. Grab the vol 2 trade out this coming Wednesday. Search out the vol 1 trade. This is a comic you need to read.
THE TPB of VOL 2 LANDS THIS NCBD AUGUST 14TH!!!