EXCLUSIVE: Rodriguez Unravels "Tales from the Darkside," Return to "Locke & Key"

The Eisner Award-winning "Locke & Key" creative team of writer Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have teamed up yet again for a new horror project from that sees new life for a long-dead George Romero ("Night of the Living Dead") property.

Their latest series from IDW Entertainment, titled "Tales from the Darkside," explores the unmade scripts -- adapted for the first time as a comic by Hill and Rodriguez -- from the vault of Romero's horrific '80s TV anthology of the same name. Telling tales of macabre and malevolent, the comics anthology offers a re-exploration of the eerie world inhabited by Romero's acclaimed original series. The first issue of the series hit stands this week -- and IDW has exclusively provided CBR News with Rodriguez's cover for "Tales from the Dark Side" #4, on sale in September.

We also had the opportunity to speak with Rodriguez about "Tales from the Darkside," as well as his recently announced return to the world of "Locke & Key" with Hill for this winter's one-shot, "Locke & Key: Small World." Rodriguez teased the American past that'll be explored in the issue and his artwork for the one-shot, which he intends to be the best work of his career.

CBR News: What are your thoughts on the original "Tales from the Darkside" and what kind of inspiration have you taken from it?

Rodriguez: First of all, I'm a fan of George Romero, so paying tribute to one of his creations is for me reason enough to make any project happen. Also, I like the idea that the title itself suggests that this is not an exploration of horror as a fantastic element, but just a different point of view that lets us peek into the dark side of the world that surrounds us, or of the dark side we hide within ourselves, and once let go, it has horrible, tragic or painful consequences. Like the opportunity it gives us to treat these not only as horror stories, but also as dark fables.

Does the tone in "Tales from the Darkside" remain the same over the course of the series? How would you describe it?

Rodriguez: Joe conceived the series as an opportunity to explore an overarching mythology/concept through several self contained stories that focus heavily in developing the "dark side" of the main characters' personalities, and it's amazing that only in three stories he managed to not only set that up, but also spread it in very interesting and different directions. Mike Benedetto did an amazing job adapting this scripts so we could make it work as properly as possible in comics instead of TV, and I'm especially pleased that I think we managed, with Joe's help, to stay very true to the original proposal spirit. I would say this "Tales From The Darkside" offers us not just the chance to play around with fun fantasy/horror elements, but also to explore this idea that when we let our dark side take over, we have no chance but to assume the consequences and pay the price of our own mistakes and misbehaviors.

How does "Small World" differ visually from your previous work on "Locke & Key"?

Rodriguez: I'm basically hoping to make this one visually my best 'Locke & Key' issue ever. Luckily, now I carry with me not only the experience and lessons I've learned while working for six years on the original series, but also what I've explored in different creative keys in LITTLE NEMO, ONYX and recently Darkside. "Small World" also asks for very unique visual challenges, and will let me return to one of my favorite cast of characters in the Locke & Key universe, so it will be as pleasing as it will be demanding for me. There's a notion of scale that will interestingly play with elements of big and small wonder and horror that should be a visual feast, but I can't get deeper into that without spoiling, so that's it for now. Fortunately, we're carefully planning this to give us proper time to give our best for this story, and with the amazing line up of the original "Locke & Key" team gathered once more, I trust we'll be able to deliver something worthy of our faithful readers expectations.

In what way do you explore the American past in "Locke & Key: Small World"?

Rodriguez: We explore it in two ways. I'd say in a deeper, basic level, portrays an age in which you had less tools and technology to rely on to solve your problems, so the universal value of strong family bonds was the rock in which to overcome adversity. And more specifically, how in that golden age of modern science, where creativity was unleashed in really short time expanding the possibilities of imagination into fantastic inventions, it carried simultaneously a sense of wonder and a chance for horror. In ways they weren't seen before, it demanded a new sense of responsibility. Many times, with the best intentions you could put your beloved ones in unexpected danger and being reckless carries consequences that could lead eventually to tragedy. So in a context in which those elements were more obvious, I think it keeps pointing to universal values and conflicts that are crucial today.

"Tales from the Darkside" #1 is on sale now; you can check out a preview of the issue here. "Locke & Key: Small World" is slated for a December, 2016 release.

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