Spencer & Locke are back for volume 2 of their hard-hitting crime series for Action Lab Entertainment. Writer David Pepose talks with us about what's next for the hard-nosed cop and his imaginary friend.
Spencer & Locke Volume 2 (9781632294869) will be available everywhere August 13, 2019!
PREVIEWSworld: In your first volume of Spencer & Locke you answered the question "What if Calvin and Hobbes grew up in Sin City?” Recap the first arc and set us up the encore?
David Pepose: In our first series, Detective Locke returned to his old neighborhood to investigate the murder of his childhood sweetheart Sophie Jenkins — but the twist is that Locke’s partner happens to be a seven-foot-tall imaginary panther named Spencer. Raised in a deeply abusive home, Locke’s invention of Spencer has been the ultimate coping mechanism for his trauma, as these two unlikely cops desperately cling to sanity while solving the most senseless of crimes.
Over the course of our last adventure, Spencer and Locke’s return home was particularly harrowing, as they wound up grappling with numerous tormentors from their past, including Locke’s crime boss father Augustus. And along the way, Locke had to delve into a lot of unresolved issues from his past, ranging from the guilt he carried over how he escaped the neighborhood, to discovering he was the father of Sophie’s daughter Hero. After surviving gunfights, car chases, and the demons of his past, Spencer and Locke wound up solving Sophie’s murder, but the secrets they learned along the way have shaken Locke to the core.
PREVIEWSworld: Even though Detective Locke has an imaginary panther named Spencer as his partner, the problems he faces are very real. Tell us what Locke is up against now?
David Pepose: Locke’s in a bad place after the events of our first series, that’s for sure. He’s under investigation from Internal Affairs, after the fallout of his last investigation — because you don’t leave a body count like that without someone calling you to answer for it, you know? — and in turn, that’s put Locke’s custody over Hero in peril. And with Locke’s back against the wall, that’s begun to curdle over into his partnership with Spencer — this giant panther has gotten a whole lot less cuddly, as he pushes Locke to get back on the streets, gun and badge be damned.
But outside all of these external forces, Spencer and Locke are also deep in the throes of an existential crisis — because they confronted all these childhood foes, and still don’t feel any better. Locke is discovering that catharsis doesn’t come from the end of a gun, but given that violence and crimefighting were his only outlets for his rage, where does he go from here? Can Locke possibly navigate a normal world as a father, as a partner, as a cop? So our heroes are already going to be on the ropes before our new villain Roach Riley blows into town...
PREVIEWSworld: In watching your comic book trailer you get to hear from Roach Riley in the beginning. This guy seems ready for war and nothing is going to stop him?
David Pepose: If Spencer and Locke are our pitch-black riffs on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, Roach Riley is our analogue of Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey. The sole survivor of his platoon overseas, Roach is very much Locke’s dark mirror opposite — he’s suffered just as much pain and suffering as Locke has, but over a much more accelerated period of time. And as a result, Roach has come back with a very twisted philosophy rooted in the bleakest of mindsets — he sees a unique virtue in terror and heartbreak, and he’s looking to spread the good word to as many people as possible.
Of course, given Roach’s military background, he’s also got the training and weaponry to give our street-level cops a run for their money. He’s bigger, stronger, faster and meaner than Spencer and Locke, which means they’re going to have to dig in deep if they hope to get out of this in one piece. Roach is very much the unstoppable force to Locke’s immovable object, but more importantly, Roach’s sense of nihilism makes a twisted sort of sense to someone as profoundly troubled as Locke. Their struggle is just as much a battle of ideas as it is a physical conflict.
PREVIEWSworld: What classic comic strips are you going to pay homage to in this series?
David Pepose: Definitely — for SPENCER & LOCKE 2, we’ve declared war across the funny pages. In addition to parodying Calvin and Hobbes and Beetle Bailey, readers will get to see our twists on Brenda Starr, Hi and Lois, Hagar the Horrible, Marmaduke, the Family Circus… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some of these characters will appear as cameos and Easter eggs, while others will change the course of our entire story. But it’s great being able to expand our universe in such a dramatic way — it’s our way of keeping the SPENCER & LOCKE formula exciting and unpredictable. Because with so many other books on the stands, you’ve got to evolve or die.
PREVIEWSworld: Finally talk about working with your art team of Jorge Santiago, Jr. and Jasen Smith?
David Pepose: There’s a reason why the first SPENCER & LOCKE received five nominations for the Ringo Awards last year, and I think it’s because artist Jorge Santiago, Jr., colorist Jasen Smith and letterer Colin Bell, not to mention our variant cover artists Maan House and Joe Mulvey, are pound-for-pound one of the best creative teams in comics. The level of expression and emotion that Jorge brings to the table is only elevated by the sense of mood and atmosphere that Jasen and Colin add to the mix — and what’s most exciting to me as the writer on the project is seeing just how much our entire team has leveled up since our first arc. We’re bringing the entire band back together for SPENCER & LOCKE 2, and I think readers are going to be blown away with what we have in store for them.