Staff Picks (February): Spencer & Locke #1

Spencer & Locke answers that age-old question we’ve all been asking -- What would happen if Calvin & Hobbes grew up in Sin City and became amoral detectives?

When I first heard about this book, I thought “Bill Waterson meets Frank Miller” was just one of those elevator pitches like “It’s Superman meets My Little Pony” or “It’s Walking Dead meets The Goonies.”  But no, it’s literally the story of a boy who grew up talking to his stuffed panther toy, Spencer, and as a grown up continues to see the giant panther as his partner in crime-solving.

Perhaps the most lovable aspect of Spencer & Locke is the choice to draw all the childhood flashbacks in the style of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, including classic gags like the snowmen, or analog versions of familiar secondary characters like Susie Derkins, Moe, and Miss Wormwood.  Except in this dark, broody and often hilarious vision, the Susie character is found dead in an alley, Moe is a known felon, Miss Wormwood is still working at a violent, dark elementary school.  Meanwhile, Locke himself crosses Calvin’s line of precocious nonconformist into a territory closer to destructive anarchist and his mother beat him for his shenanigans instead of laughing it off like Calvin’s folks.

Every hardboiled detective needs a good partner and nothing tops a pithy invisible jungle cat in a trench coat.  Using Spencer’s cat-like senses as a means of talking through a crime scene, Locke’s investigation of a simple back alley homicide descends into kidnapping, conspiracies, seedy clubs and a plot that is bigger than the detective or his imaginary talking panther could have ever imagined.  A purist might complain about dragging Watterson’s vision through the muck, but that’s kind of the point. 

Trevor Richardson

Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Item Code: FEB171047
Release Date: 4/26/17
SRP: $3.99

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Staff Picks (August): Expansion GN

Recommended by Trevor Richardson
Expansion blends the best elements of gritty science fiction with the literary nuances one would expect from an Adhouse book.