David Pepose talks about SPENCER & LOCKE II

Detective Locke is back with his imaginary partner Spencer. He is still dealing with the reproductions from the first mini-series. He is trying to put his career and family back together when Roach Riley strikes. Spencer & Locke creator David Pepose was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to let our readers know what to expect from the return of Spencer and Locke.

First Comics News: Do you have to have read the first mini-series to jump into Spencer & Locke 2?

David Pepose: If the first SPENCER & LOCKE asked “what if Calvin and Hobbes grew up in Sin City,” SPENCER & LOCKE 2 goes full Fables with the concept, pitting hard-boiled Detective Locke and his imaginary taling panther Spencer against Roach Riley, our tough-as-nails analogue for Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey. So while you don’t have to read the first miniseries to get into SPENCER & LOCKE 2, we’re building upon a lot of themes and character development that we established with our first arc, so reading both series will unlock the full storytelling effect. Just like you wouldn’t want to start Die Hard or Lethal Weapon with their second installments, you wouldn’t want to start directly in the middle with SPENCER & LOCKE, either! Thankfully, SPENCER & LOCKE isn’t a big investment for readers to catch up on — our Ringo Award-nominated first trade paperback is just four issues long, and is available to order via your comics shop, ComiXology, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and just about anywhere else books are sold.

1st: Who is Locke?

David: Locke is a hard-boiled cop who is the product of a deeply abusive upbringing — and after going back to his old neighborhood and learning the truth about his ex-girlfriend Sophie Jenkins’ murder in our first arc, Locke’s in an even worse headspace than ever before. He’s a scrappy, ill-tempered guy who always fights for the little guy — but with a viciousness that we’ll see has landed him in some pretty hot water with Internal Affairs. This is a guy who has confronted all the tormentors of his past in our last series, and finds that he’s still only barely holding his inner demons in check — he’s learning he can’t shoot all of his problems into submission, and that the world is going to exact a stiff price for his brutal methods of crimefighting. But then again, that brutality might be the quality that saves Locke’s life when our new villain Roach Riley busts in town, sporting an arsenal of military-grade hardware…

1st: Who is Spencer?

David: Spencer is Locke’s ultimate coping mechanism after a lifetime of horror and torment — he’s Locke’s trusty partner, who happens to also be a seven-foot-tall imaginary panther. Drawn from Locke’s scarred subconscious, Spencer has traditionally served as Locke’s animal intuition as a cop, as well as his sense of compassion and kindness towards the innocent. But as we’ll discover in our second arc, Locke’s growing internal strife has started to rub off on this once-cuddly sidekick, who is increasingly encouraging Locke to take matters into his own hands. Ultimately, Spencer is Locke’s best friend and trusted confidant, the surprisingly level yin to Locke’s usually savage yang. But their dynamic is definitely going to be pushed and tested in some new and interesting ways as they square off against Roach.

1st: What is Detective Locke’s first name?

David: Is it too early to start teasing SPENCER & LOCKE 3 yet? (Laughs) If readers order enough copies of SPENCER & LOCKE 2 to get us a third volume, I’ll spill the beans — but until then, my lips are sealed!

1st: Who is Hero Jenkins?

David: Hero is Locke’s young daughter, who he had with his ex-girlfriend Sophie Jenkins. Locke didn’t know of Hero’s existence for much of her life — they only met for the first time in our previous arc, when Locke was investigating the death of Hero’s mother — and they’re both trying to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, though, when you’re a cop under investigation, no court is going to deem you fit for custody — and that separation is going to put the screws on both Locke and Hero, as they try to navigate Roach’s reign of carnage in a way that can reunite them long-term. Having grown up in a loving household, Hero is very much what could have been for Spencer and Locke, in another world — she’s innocent and idealistic, and she provides a much-needed bit of light in Locke’s otherwise bleak and brutal world. Hero’s one of my favorite characters in this entire series, and she’ll play a big role in our sequel.

1st: How did Locke not know he had a daughter?

David: Locke and Sophie split up before he could learn she was pregnant — they just lost touch, and didn’t really reconnect until Sophie’s untimely death at the beginning of our first volume. And I think that’s something that weighs heavily on Locke, who knows exactly how someone’s life can be influenced and shaped by their parents’ influence — he desperately wants to be there for Hero, and that consideration will loom large over Spencer and Locke’s actions throughout the series.

1st: How can a cop with an imaginary friend pass his psych eval?

David: That’s something we’re going to be addressing significantly with our second arc — because Locke’s been benched for exactly these reasons. You can’t cause leave a trail of destruction during a car chase and then leave a warehouse full of dead mobsters and not have some sort of consequences, you know? So we’ll continue to explore Locke’s mental state with this storyline, asking whether or not someone as profoundly scarred as him can possibly continue as a cop, as a partner, as a father, and as a friend.

1st: This mini-series deals with Roach Riley, who is Roach Riley?

David: Our main villain for our sequel, Roach Riley is our dark spin on Mort Walker’s classic comic strip Beetle Bailey, sort of if Heath Ledger’s Joker was spliced with Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter. Roach is the sole survivor of his platoon overseas, and he’s survived some pretty messed-up stuff — but these painful experiences have given Roach a twisted sort of perspective, and a very deranged philosophy on the necessity of scars. In many ways, he’s Locke’s mirror opposite, having sustained the same amount of torture but in a much more accelerated timeframe — he’s bigger, stronger, faster and meaner than Locke, and moreover, he recognizes that they’re both two of a kind. Locke and Roach are a twisted, one-sided sort of bromance that’s just as much a war of ideas as it is a fight on a physical battlefield.

1st: Who is Melinda Mercury? What is her relationship with Locke?

David: Melinda Mercury is Locke’s new love interest, and our take on Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr, Reporter. Given that Locke is a cop and Melinda is a reporter, their dynamic already feels a little on the risky side — but Locke’s never been one for making good decisions, and Melinda’s always had a soft spot for broken people. Locke and Melinda are detectives in a way, and their parallel investigations into Roach’s rampage are going to converge in some unexpected ways. But given his checkered past with the opposite sex, I think Melinda is a small step towards actual human intimacy for Locke — assuming he doesn’t mess it up.

1st: Is Lana Forrester one of the good guys or does she have something to hide?

David: Hal and Lana Forrester are the city’s political power couple, and of course our riff on the classic comic strip Hi and Lois. They’ve got some unique incentive for Locke to get back on the streets, and as the political elite that’s directly in Roach’s gun sights, their lives are going to be impacted pretty directly by this ex-soldier’s trail of destruction.

1st: Will Locke’s involvement with Roach help or hurt his bid to get reinstated?

David: I guess that’s up to them! Given the amount of carnage that Roach is inflicting upon the city, it would be extremely helpful for Locke if he was able to bring this guy in — if he played his cards right. But then again, quiet never really was Locke’s strong suit…

1st: For anyone on the fence about this comic, what makes a homicide cop with an imaginary friend so cool no true comic fan should miss it?

David: I think you hit the nail on the head with your question — SPENCER & LOCKE is a series by comic fans, for comic fans. If you’ve ever been a fan of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, our first book was both a parody and a love letter to his classic comic strip — but with SPENCER & LOCKE 2, we’re expanding that world to incorporate a whole new universe of characters from across the funny pages, weaponizing your nostalgia and turning it into something altogether different and unique. SPENCER & LOCKE 2 is part psychological thriller, part black comedy, part character study, part larger-than-life blockbuster — this is our Empire Strikes Back. This is our Dark Knight. This is our Godfather: Part II. And honestly, I think this is even better than our first arc. So if you’re a fan of unforgettable characters and high-octane action, SPENCER & LOCKE 2 is the book for you.

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