Leaked trailer suggests Fox fumbled the ball with ‘Locke & Key’

When I first opened the borders of October Country back in January, one of my intentions was to write about comics, specifically horror and crime comics. There’s a lot of good work being done these days in both genres, not to mention all the great classic reprints that companies like Dark Horse and PS Publishing are churning out on a weekly basis. So far I haven’t written about comics nearly as much as I’d like to, but I’m working to rectify that. I’ve got a thing coming up in October that I’m particularly excited about, but more on that in, well, October.

This week I stumbled across something that gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my favorite comic series being produced right now: Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez for IDW. In brief, Hill (author of acclaimed novels Heart-Shaped Box and Horns) is telling the story of a family who has endured unimaginable trauma and holes up in mysterious old mansion to put their lives back together. The mansion has many doors, with many keys and many secrets. The story is illustrated by Rodriguez, who first caught my eye with his terrific work on the comics adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show (also available from IDW). Between the two of them they have created a living, breathing group of characters and one of the coolest, most surprising and engaging haunted house stories I’ve ever read.

I was cautiously excited when Hill began talking about the adaptation in the works by the Fox television network. I thought this series had a good chance of translating successfully to the small screen if they had the right people working on it. Hill seemed jazzed by the cast and creative team working on the pilot episode and tweeted enthusiastically about it throughout the last year or so…right up until the time that he announced that Fox had given it a pass.

Despite that news, a trailer was put together for this summer’s Comic-Con, the first chance that anyone outside the production would be able to see what had been done. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, leaving many to scratch their heads at why Fox had declined to move forward with the show.

I was disappointed, but not to the point that I am now. Because now I’ve seen the trailer – and you can, too. (NOTE: WordPress is acting up today, so I’m just pasting the link as a whole for you to click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-sZKbG8-2g).

If you’re already reading the book, you can see how much they appear to have gotten right. That house is Keyhouse, a big, sprawling, rambling character in its own right, a house that looks to be just bursting with dark corners and darker secrets. The wellhouse looks like it was lifted directly from the pages of the comic, the characters seem to be hitting all the right notes, and there’s a real sense of mystery and dread conveyed in those short couple of minutes – more than many shows manage to pull of in their entire runs. Yes, it’s impossible to say whether they got it all “right” based on one trailer (or even one episode), but if there are missteps they don’t show up here.

For those who don’t read the books, it perfectly sets up the premise and, I believe, offers plenty of enticement for people to check out the whole thing. In particular there are plenty of Lost fans out there starving for the kind of character-rich, mythology-driven story that Locke & Key could have provided.

I hope this trailer gets enough people clamoring for Fox to rethink its decision, gather the team back together, and give this series a chance. If nothing else, air the pilot and let the viewers decide. Or sell the whole package off to another network willing to give it a shot.

Locke & Key deserves to be seen. While we wait for that to (hopefully) come about, it also deserves to be read. Track down the comics, and let’s get back together in October, when I’ll be talking about it some more.

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