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Tales of Syzpense #3
Locke & 3Keys
Chris Ryall's Tales of Syzpense #3
In 2006, short-story writer Joe Hill had an idea for comic-book series.
Joe had published a couple short comics before – one involving Freddie Wertham in Hell, and for Marvel, a Spider-Man short – but wasn’t exactly sure where to pitch his longer-form idea involving a troubled family, big, creepy house filled with hidden, transformative keys, and the demonic force that was trying to get ahold of said keys.
So while he was pondering which publisher to pitch the idea, he jotted down this note:
In 2006, I was two years into my role as the company’s Editor-in-Chief, and jotting down the same basic note about Joe, after having loved his short-story collection, 20th Century Ghosts. So we started talking about comic possibilities.
Cut to 2023 and it’s been over a decade and a half since those initial chats led to my longest, and one of the best, creative partnership and friendships I’ve experienced in comics, thanks to that initial pitch that soon after became the comic series, Locke & Key. Alongside Joe has been artist/co-creator Gabriel Rodriguez, colorist Jay Fotos, and designers/letterers Robbie Robbins and Shawn Lee. And then an L&K family that has continued to expand ever outward to include additional cover artists, people behind and in front of the L&K streaming series, and many others.
It’s wild to think that first conversation took place the same year my daughter, now a junior in high school, was born. Which leads me to it being equally unsettling, and equally thrilling, that Locke & Key is now celebrating its 15th anniversary of publication. And best of all, people still care about the series, which is never ever taken for granted.
Especially when Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1 launched humbly in August 2008. It had something like 6,500 pre-orders. But it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you perform after you get off the blocks.
And we’re all still running.
Even after my time at IDW ended in 2020, I managed to hold onto one of the keys to L&K’s kingdom. As a team, we basically barricaded ourselves inside Keyhouse and swore to only come out if we stayed a team.
So here we are, back out in the world with a celebratory 15th anniversary re-issue of Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1 on the way in July. I realize that celebrating with a reprint, albeit a special one, as I mention below, isn’t giving patient fans the full-blown new L&K series they’re hoping for, but you never know what the future will bring. We’re all still here, still making comics, and still looking to explore the world of Lovecraft, Mass.
I know, I know—this first issue has been released in just about every way a comic can be: accompanied by the script (and bonus “Freddie Wertham”) in one iteration; printed in black and white in other; in Treasury Edition size, with foil-stamped special covers; published in Spanish; there really have been so many good versions of this comic. So we needed to figure out what would make this one special for longtime fans and also appeal to anyone who might be picking up their first issue of L&K.
The idea began just a lark between friends, nothing intended for publication. A couple years back, Joe put together a one-page alternate ending for the issue – an ending, “only bad,” he said. Which, when we batted around ways we could make this 15th anniversary edition something unique, something more than a straight reprint, provided our answer: stop trying to do something good and instead, do something bad.
And so, in July, you’ll get not only the complete 32-page story that launched the entire franchise, but with this new bad ending tacked on (and other extras besides). Because the alt ending is just two pages long, we want to preserve the finished pages for readers, but here’s a tiny peak at some pencils so you too can enjoy seeing Gabriel draw Bode once again.
With this issue, the L&K family expands again, too: beyond covers by Gabriel and extended L&K fam artist Zach Howard and colorist Nelson Daniel (see Tales of Syz #2 for more on Nelson, and check out what both guys are currently up to), there are also covers by Simon Gane (who’s latest graphic novel, with writer Andi Watson), is gorgeous); and cover artist Reiko Murakami, who’s done great covers for Hill House, DC, and others.
Hopefully you like this little celebration. We were happy to be back inside Keyhouse for a time. If you want to check out all of the issue’s covers, you can see them below but also find full-size versions of each right here.
This Week in Syzygy
Releasing this week in comic shops, and next week in bookstores, is a trade paperback collection by another of my oldest collaborators and friends. 3Keys, a 5-issue series we published under our Syzygy imprint, is now available as a trade paperback that collects all the issues, covers, and also adds two new epilogues hinting at even more to come beyond this series, too.
The creator, David Messina, has drawn all kinds of amazing comics: from Angel to so Star Trek, from my ROM relaunch to DC’s Catwoman and, currently, Marvel’s Han Solo, but 3Keys is the first time he’s gone it solo, writing and drawing and even handing much of the color work himself, too. It’s a great, compelling story, beautifully drawn and packed with interesting characters both human and leonine, fighting monstrous old-gods and monsters. You can get a look at the various individual issues here but the collected edition is the ultimate showcase of both David’s work and the beautiful design Shawn Lee brought to the book, too.
So, yeah, in both of these cases, good collaborations make all the hard work that goes into making comics, or anything, completely worthwhile. And when you find the kinds of creators with whom you’re well in sync, I can’t recommend enough that you continue to make things together every chance you get. There’s really nothing better.