Review: Spencer and Locke #1

“A gumshoe detective, with a touch of Calvin and Hobbes brilliance” is a tagline that fits this charming book from Action Lab well.  Locke is the cop; his partner a talking panther all the way from deepest darkest…..wait, I am mixing up the imaginary animals.

Spencer alludes to coming from Africa.  How the two met is not explained, but they go waaayy  back, all the way to the old neighbourhood, growing up together.  Locke catches a case, involving someone else from his past stomping ground.  From there we get flash-backs which give us an understanding of sorts.

The book is written by David Pepose who uses the conceit of the imaginary character acting as partner well.  It’s clear that Locke had a difficult childhood hence the creation of Spencer.  What is interesting I why he still exists? Surely, there is a time to put away childish toys?  Still, Pepose has given the duo a look of Calvin and Hobbes throughout the book, Sophie Jenkins instead of Suzie Derkins.  The cart. The snowmen.  The bully!  All that was needed for a complete set would be an appearance of Stupendous Man or Spaceman Spiff.  Normally such obvious “homages” would annoy the hell out of me.  But Pepose may have recognised a couple of points.  Firstly, we haven’t had any new Calvin and Hobbes strips for years.  Secondly, what happened when Calvin grows up?  As such, Pepose has given us the means to scratch our “itch” and also may be looks to answer the second point, written in such an engaging way, you can’t help but get caught up in the story.

The art by Jorge Santiago Jr is a mixed bag.  As part of the story, we have to see Locke’s early days, which come across like a comic strip and you have the current settings.  Now, Santiago Jr is also in on the homage theme, which again works due to our familiarity of the possible source material, is that the principal from the Recess cartoon in there?  On the present scenes, the art can try to hard in places.  For the most part it’s a nice easy style that helps move the story along as well as show the main relationship in play. In addition the design of Spencer is perfect right down to his button eye. Colors are provided by Jasen Smith who does well, using a variety of schemes and depths of scheme to highlight the differences between childhood and adult hood.

After seeing the tagline on the cover of an imaginary partner, I was intrigued enough to look over this book, and boy I am glad I did.  For me, the book provides a gentle reminder to when “Something Was Drooling Under my Bed” or the “Revenge of the Baby-Sat”.  It is good to see that the Bill Waterson’s creation have had such an impact on the comic book world.

Written – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Color – 5 Stars

(W) David Pepose (A/CA) Jorge Santiago, Jr.

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