Category Archives: Action Lab Entertainment

Interview and Review: David Pepose and SPENCER & LOCKE

SPENCER & LOCKE #1

One thing that you need to know about David Pepose is that he’s energetic and dedicated to his work. I know David from the time we both contributed to Newsarama. That was a good time. David was in New York and actually working at the home office. It was a full fledged job for him. He began as an intern at DC Comics, then came Newsarama, and other positions followed. All the while, David was considering what he wanted to do with his very own comics project. As he stated to me, “Writing is a skill that everyone has a chance at learning. In a lot of ways, it’s just like building a chair. You go out and do it.” Ultimately, what David did was create a noir mashup tribute to the work of Frank Miller and Bill Watterson. Okay, the “Calvin and Hobbes” influence is unmistakable. But just one page in, and the Dark Knight Miller influence is quite evident as well.

A subversive mashup!

Let’s take a look at the comic in question. The first issue of SPENCER & LOCKE is available at your local comics shop as of April 12th. What can you expect? Well, as I began to say, this is definitely a mashup of two distinct and very different sensibilities. Going back to that first page, I think it’s safe to say that it will be emotionally jarring for some loyal readers of the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. Here you have a similar little boy and his stuffed animal (alive and real companion only to him) but they are trapped in a dysfunctional hell! The mom in the Pepose comic book doesn’t cuddle up to her son at all. No, she smacks him across the room! That’s pretty subversive to say the least. It does get our attention, and deservedly so. Onto the very next page, and that little boy, Locke, is all grown up. So is his stuffed animal, Spencer, a very much alive blue panther, at least in Locke’s eyes.

On the case.

So, you get the conceit. Now, where does it go from there? Well, that’s the beauty of this comic. As David told me during our chat, this is a wonderful opportunity to deconstruct what is going on in a dynamic involving a person who relies upon an inanimate object for support. Our hero, Locke, is a young man who has chosen a career as a police detective. He’s got that hard-boiled swagger about him, a la Dashiell Hammett. And yet he also carries around a stuffed animal toy. It’s PTSD. Locke has got it bad. And it goes back to not having a mom who cuddled with him but, instead, smacked him across the room. It’s this experience that gives Locke a sixth sense about others who have been abused and actually helps him on his way to solving cases.

Something about gumshoes and greasy spoons.

The title of this arc is “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Maybe you can’t go home again. But why is it that the past can still come back and haunt you? Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Returning home? Nope. No way. Haunted by the past? Yeah, that one you get to play with whether you care to or not. And so it is in this comic. Locke is on a case that forces him in confront his past big time: the murder of Sophie Jenkins, his childhood sweetheart. You can’t get much more cruel in a mashup of Sin City with Calvin Hobbes!

David Pepose is our creator and writer for this four-issue comic book series published by Action Lab Entertainment. As David told me, he sees the role of the creator/writer as a leadership role. It’s up to him to keep the project moving forward and finding the best talent to jump on board. David is very excited about the creative team he has assembled. David says it was a long search to find just the right artist. Once he saw his portfolio, David knew he’d found the perfect match with Jorge Santiago Jr. Another long search finally led to just the right colorist, Jasen Smith. And, of course, a spot on letterer, Colin Bell, rounds out the team. Well worth the search indeed! Overall, readers will find this comic to be that something different they’ve been looking for: a tribute to comics in general and a solid story with compelling characters.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Action Lab Entertainment, Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime Fiction, Dashiell Hammett, David Pepose, Newsarama, Noir

Review: Herald: Lovecraft & Tesla Vol. 1 (#1-3)

Lovecraft-Tesla-comics

Much in the spirit of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” the action-and-character-packed “Herald: Lovecraft and Tesla” manages to deliver on its ambitious promise. You certainly have a sense of urgency going on as we see Amelia Earhart running smack into her ill-fated destiny with key figures, Nikola Tesla, H.P. Lovecraft, and even Albert Einstein, determined to save her. Of course, Amelia would say that a woman doesn’t need any saving! All this glorious activity, written by John Reilly, is brought into a crisp clarity by the pencils of Tom Rogers. And then that is given a warm glow and finish by Dexter Weeks in charge of inks, coloring, and lettering. The new trade paperback collects the first three issues to this six-issue series, published by Action Lab Entertainment.

This is exactly what you would hope it would be: a faithfully realized adventure mashup with a steampunk energy running throughout. You don’t just get all the famous players lined up or lounging about. They’re really walking and talking characters and substantial references are made to who they are and what might motivate them to travel in similar circles. Well, in this case, truth can be stranger than fiction. For instance, the real Nikola Tesla actually did hang out with Mark Twain. Thankfully, the narrative picks up on some essential truths, like the fact that Nikola Tesla, despite his brilliance, was taken to the cleaners by Thomas Edison. Or the fact that the athletic Harry Houdini was actually friends with the intellectual Lovecraft. These choice bits of factoids are treated lightly and smoothly.

We also don’t waste any time in getting to a free-wheeling fantasy, particularly the romantic pairing of Tesla with Earhart. You have to have these two together for the rest of the story to work. It’s Earhart who somehow gets caught up in swiping one of Tesla’s experiments. And this leads to the big chase that slides into confrontations with ancient gods, secret societies, strange technologies, and even occultist Aleister Crowley.

Hats off to Tom Rogers for his spirited depictions of everyone involved and his dynamic handling of settings. He has quite an energetic style that mingles a tight adherence to details with a lively effortless quality. He really enjoys bringing in an intense angular look to his people and places. What Rogers makes look bold and smooth, might turn out stilted in a lesser talent. So, there, you’ve got a very solid creative team all working together on something special, something that I can actually get excited about.

If you happen to be Beaverton, Oregon, this Wednesday, July 1st, stop by the Things From Another World comics shop to see Tom Rogers in person as he’ll be there signing from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. To RSVP and check out more details on that event, go right here.

And visit our friends at Action Lab Entertainment right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action Lab Entertainment, Comics, Comics Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, H.P. Lovecraft, Nikola Tesla, Things From Another World