When I arrived a few minutes late, to my consternation since I have a deep reverence for thoses guys and their work, to the Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez IDW panel, I had a strange moment of transition realizing that the fans were just sitting there (in a very full room) talking to the creators in a very conversational way. Q&A only works in this flowing, easy way when the creators are still overwhelmingly passionate about their work, and as Hill and Rodriguez talked about Locke & Key, their faces lit up in just that way. Chris Ryall led the audience in trivia, it turns out, for prizes.
So, midflow, I caught the following conversations:
GR: [Regarding Jay Fotos] in constructing the world around the characters, he was a key player, and in creating the world of Lovecraft.
JH: My life as a comic book writer came first, and in some ways that is my natural home. I was a failed novelist and had given up on the idea that I was ever going to succeed. I had written a short story “Twentieth Century Ghost” and it was read by a talent agent at Marvel Comics. I got excited since I had always had a comic book imagination. Spider-Man Unlimited #11 in 2005 was my first big breakthrough, an awful story, but it pumped me up and made me want to do more comics. That’s how things got rolling.
GR: When I received the first script of Locke & Key from Joe Hill, and said he hadn’t really written comics, I couldn’t believe it. It was “pitch perfect”.
CR: It was the plotting of a novelist who could see where everything was meant to go.
JH: I told them I could tell the whole story in 36 issues and they bought that shit! Me and Gabe are like an old married couple. He is like my brother in a lot of ways. We think all the same things are funny.
GR: Yes, and I’m starting therapy!
JH: I learn as much about characters in Locke & Key from his drawings, more than in what I wrote. As the process went on, it became more and more collaborative. When Tyler makes a key that he puts to dramatic use, that was Gabe who did that. At one point he said, “I don’t know why Tyler doesn’t just make a key that can unlock demons from souls”, and I was like [gesture of revelation].
We’ve talked about going back to fix eras in the comic and make it like we “really” wanted it. There are a couple places that probably only the people who worked on the comic would ever give a shit about. There’s a place where the Ghost Door seems to lock itself. It’s a dramatic moment that means nothing. Maybe it’s just good to let the mistakes stand. At some point the writer and artist have had their chance, and it might be best to [leave it]
GR: At some point you have to let your ego go. What’s the point?
Q: I’ve been wondering, after the final issue, are they are going to forget everything that happened?
JH: I think maybe that’s already happening. We have this story about a methane gas leak in the caves, and a gas leak and you can see the adults beginning to sell themselves on it. And the really interesting thing is that I think Tyler forgets in awhile. And maybe that’s another story.
GR: I think that’s the point of the story. Hopefully they became something different, a better version of themselves, preserving the lessons they have learned even if the magic is gone.
Q: In Locke & Key and in Wraith, you have some dense character development. What’s your approach?
JH: My approach is sheer terror. I’m always afraid the reader will get bored. You just can’t screw around. There has to be a little explosion of awesome in each scene. They need to do something that’s so perfectly them that it’s funny, or it’s horrible. Like Joss Whedon’s work. It’s always someone saying something, and you think “Oh my God, it’s perfectly them”.
[Regarding knowing everything ahead] At a certain point I had the opportunity to ask a question of Alan Moore in an interview, and I asked him, how important is it to known the answer to your own mysteries? And he said, “Only an asshat wouldn’t know the answer to their mysteries”. So there you go.
[Regarding a film possibility] I do have hopes that there will be a film from Universal in a few years.
Q: IDW, now that they do artists’ editions, with ink, colors, and pencils. Will there be more?
CR: A lot of those books try to show process and a lot of newer art doesn’t necessarily have that. But I do know that we will be publishing Gabriel’s art in as many formats as possible for as long as possible.