“Locke & Key” #6 is another crowning jewel on the treasure trove of narrative from this modern classic. This book has consistently been amazing throughout its entire run with quality that never dips and the ambition always sky-high. This arc has been a reflective look beyond our general leads of the Locke family and into the history of the house and the struggle around the keys.
This book is truly terrifying. It’s easy to convey gore and action sequentially, but demonstrating true terror and evoking it in the reader is a skill so hard to master most books have stopped trying. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are often and seemingly easily able to convey the perfect still image to make readers lose themselves in the moment. “Locke & Key” isn’t a horror comic, it’s a suspense story, and it’s quite honestly one of the best.
If you want to learn how to structure an effective and meaningful page then take notes from Hill and Rodriguez’s work. The simplistic magic woven into each page is brilliant and devastating all at once. Hill scripts most pages with 4-5 panels making for a clean and uncluttered page. His dialogue is measured and his story is still packed. Rodriguez then takes this and manages to fit intricate details, clear stage direction and emotional storytelling into every panel. This is a collaborative example of perfect synchronicity to serve the narrative.
This issue is mostly a flashback and so many things are predetermined for the reader. There is a sense that threads are being tied up and the thrill will only be in seeing how things went down. This is not the compete case as Hill and Rodriguez still make every scene layered and also manage to seed in some new elements that will greatly affect the final act of this tale. The final pages have a magical feeling as you see one specific plot point unfold. When a comic delivers ‘that’ feeling you know you’re onto something amazing.
Rodriguez manages to draw the same characters across ages, muscle sizes and even genders. No matter what incarnation of the character is on panel, you know whom you are dealing with and they act consistently. This continuity is what makes such a wide and ambitious story work so smoothly.
“Locke & Key” #6 is a great example of blending storytelling with story planning. Hill and Rodriguez check off boxes for the story while making sure every page is entertaining. This comic has the power and complete control to make readers stop and start at its desire. The greatest thing you can do is to give in. You won’t regret it.