MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
I heard about Spencer and Locke a few months ago. I had seen the premise somewhere online, and thought it was an interesting concept, but never got around to reading it until this past week. I soon discovered I was missing out on something that was familiar, but also new. Sure, it’s no secret that Spencer and Locke borrows its basic idea of a childhood toy coming to life for adventures with his human friend from the legendary Calvin and Hobbes, but it adds a wrinkle to the classic formula by having the boy be a full-grown man, Detective Locke, and the childhood toy and friend, Spencer, be a blue panther, complete with a button for an eye.
You constantly hear the term page turner, but that is exactly what this is. Writer David Pepose writes a fantastic and quick-moving story following the death of Detective Locke’s high school sweetheart, Sophie Jenkins. Along with the help of his panther friend, Spencer, whom to everyone else is of course a stuffed animal, they uncover many things from their past. The story gets dark in spots, but it never felt out-of-place. That may seem odd, since much of this is familiar to the childhood tale most everyone loves, but this is still an adventure after all, similar to what Calvin and Hobbes went on. The only difference is the adventures of Spencer and Locke involve murder, alleyways, abuse, and many more horrible things that exist in the real world of a traumatized boy who grows up to be a man.
The art by Jorge Santiago Jr. and colors by Jasen Smith works quite well with the story, and while most of the book has a distinct cartoon noir style, there are some great pages that channel the classic style made famous by greats like Bill Watterson. You really feel like you’re looking at a Calvin and Hobbes strip until the end where something like violence, child abuse, or something else really deep hits you hard. It’s effective, nostalgic, and really pulls off something that could have come off as cheesy, or as a cheap rip off. That’s the beauty of this entire book. It’s an ode to the past while bringing a new perspective to an old idea.
While it borrows from Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, there’s a lot of Frank Miller and Ed Brubaker type inspired crime drama here as well. It’s somehow a perfect marriage of the two, which probably wasn’t an easy thing to pull off by the creators.
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new take on an old classic, or just some original idea to what seemed like an already done formula. It’s a buddy cop story with a man and his stuffed panther doll. The ending was intense, and left me wanting more. The producer of the Hitman movies has optioned the movie rights, so hopefully something comes of this, because it would be awesome on the big or small screen. This could work awesome as a Netflix series. I look forward to more of this series, and think you should check it out as well, because there is something here to love for everyone.
Story: David Pepose Art: Jorge Santiago Jr. Colors: Jasen Smith Lettering: Colin Bell
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Action Lab provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review