Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today's page is from Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #2, which was published by IDW and is cover dated March 2008. Enjoy!
I own this trade, so I'm not 100% positive this is the first page of issue #2. If anyone can tell me it's not, I'd appreciate it. I opened the trade randomly and then moved forward, and I'm fairly certain this is the first page, because the page before is a pretty strong cliffhanger. Oh well - I'm treating it like the first page, mainly because it recaps the first issue! Locke & Key is written by Joe Hill, drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Jay Fotos, and lettered by Robbie Robbins, in case you're wondering.
The first thing that struck me when I re-read this page is the way Hill and the gang write from Bode's point of view. Bode, the main character of this mini-series, is a kid whose age remains unknown - at least I think it does, because I looked through this for any clues and didn't find them. He appears to be about 6-8 years old, with eight being kind of on the old side. So this first page was curious. On the one hand, Bode should have a better grasp of spelling and handwriting. If he's been in school for longer than a year (and I don't think he's in kindergarten), his spelling ought to be better. "What" is a foundation word, and kids learn it very quickly in school. His handwriting isn't great, but it's not too bad - in my daughter's first-grade class, maybe 2 or 3 kids have as bad or worse handwriting than Bode does. Bode doesn't know how to spell "bought" or "broke," which seems fair, but he also doesn't know how to spell "house," "some," or "time," which doesn't seem logical (that he would know "secret" has one "e" after the "s" but not know how to distinguish between "be" and "bee" is also curious). He also capitalizes the second "d" in "did" but not the first. Overall, this is not the worst attempt to show how kids write, but it's not the best, either. What makes it curious is that Bode's drawing skills seem much more advanced than his writing skills. My daughter can draw fairly well, but she can't do sequential storytelling like Bode does here. If Bode is older and has learned that, his writing skills shouldn't be that poor. If he's six years old, I doubt if his storytelling skills would be that advanced (it looks like he's using watercolors, which is almost as impressive as staying within the lines!). Plus, my daughter hasn't done stick figures in probably two or three years, yet in panel three, Bode uses them. It's very difficult for adults to write from a child's point of view, but Hill, Rodriguez, and Robbins (I assume Robbins is responsible for the lettering on this page and not Rodriguez) do a decent job. (For what it's worth, here's a scan of how my daughter wrote the first part of the page, which I asked her to do just for comparison's sake.) (Also, I'm not sure if Hill has established that Bode has any learning disabilities - it's been a while since I've read this and I've never read the sequels. That could factor into this, too, of course.)
Hill and Rodriguez do a nice job recapping the events of the first issue and showing us how it's affected Bode. It's a clever way to get us into the story without resorting to a basic recap page. It also shows that the adults, at least, are going to have a hard time with believing Bode - he really did turn into a ghost, after all, as readers saw in issue #1, and as it's a comic book, even if we missed the first issue we, as readers, will believe him. It's a horror comic, after all!
This page doesn't really show Rodriguez's skills too much, except that he's able to draw in a very simplistic manner. The page is laid out in a very standard way, and our eye has no trouble moving over it. Mrs. Locke is holding the page in a weird way, but that's because we need to be able to see the entire page, and it's fine. I'm really curious what's in that last panel. What else did Bode write about?!?!?!?
I think this is a good page to draw people in. It's clever and it promises a creepy horror story in a weird house. It gets us caught up very quickly, so if we missed issue #1, we don't feel like we're lost. There are worse ways to introduce an issue!
Remember: You can still give me candidates for next month's theme, which will focus on writers. I got a lot of good suggestions yesterday, and I'll keep the voting open for a few days in case you miss a day.
Next: One of the best single issues from a few years ago. But how does its first page work? Also, you know you want to check out the archives!