Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What's on the iPod: Locke&Key

I finished the adaptation of "Locke and Key" while on a walk this morning.

I got the free download from Audible a while back, and the 13-hour experience took me a while. It's a great way to re-visit the world of Lovecraft, Mass., and the Locke family envisioned by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez.

I say re-visit, because I think experiencing the comic/graphic novel in its original form is essential for full enjoyment of the audio. And it's a great horror-mystery excursion that really should be on any horror aficionado's "To Read" list. It's a saga in comics form that's comparable to Michael McDowell's "Blackwater" multi-part novel.

As a character notes in the opening of the tale, it's impossible to understand what's going on if you come in in the final chapter of a story.

As the story's protagonists, the Locke children Tyler, Kinsey and Bode, discover as the tale unfolds,  a lot has gone on in their ancestral home where they seek refuge after their father's murder. Relevant events stretching back years, even centuries.

Various mysterious keys and a dark and mysterious woman living in the house's well gradually reveal the details over six collected volumes of comics.

The audio follows that and all of the spooky encounters with giant shadow creatures, vicious wolf-creatures, demons and deadly possessed characters.

The power of audio to stimulate the imagination is true and grand, but at times that's where the audio falls down. At times it seems you're hearing powerful action in a dark room. You know something's happening, but you can't quite ascertain what's going on. Contemporary audiodrama writing eschews the old technique of having characters spell out their actions in dialogue: "I've reached the gate, Shadow. I'm aiming my gun at the lock." But at times just a little more guidance would be fun in "Locke and Key."

I think the ideal experience would be reading the graphic novels first. They're all available in book and digital forms. Then listen to the audio as a way of reliving and appreciating the intricate plotting and the finely crafted characters.

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