That’s but a taste of the haunting 2008 graphic novel series Locke & Key brought to life. In this snippet, Kate Mulgrew (Red, Orange is the New Black) plays hateful grandmother Candice Whedon to Aaron Lockman’s mentally challenged Rufus Whedon. Locke & Key is the first of its kind, a graphic novel, written by Joe Hill and art by Gabriel Rodriguez, adapted into the audiobook medium. While Stephen King once described his attempt to write a modern radio play as a failure to reincarnate a dead medium, his son’s chilling tale has exceeded all expectations, joining the likes of successful audio dramas like the podcasts Serial and the immensely popular Welcome to Night Vale.
Part of what makes Locke & Key work is not only the fact that much of it was recorded in locations similar to that seen in the graphic novel instead of a regular studio to help actors get into character, but the phenomenal voice cast who bring the characters to life. For me, it was Ian Alan Carlsen’s menacing voicework as Dodge/Lucas Caravaggio/Zack Wells and Tatiana Maslany’s ethereal blend of menacing and inviting Dodge/Demon-in-the-Well that got me fully invested. Their combined understanding and performance of the villainous character made it all the more memorable and somehow added more depth to Dodge than was in the pages of the graphic novel. The rest of the Locke & Key players are also perfectly cast, from the guarded vulnerability of Brennan Lee Mulligan as Tyler Locke to the sweet innocence of Betsy Kenney as Bode Locke to the lovely Lisa Stathoplos as struggling alcoholic Nina Locke. I don’t even have words for Jaime Alyse Andrews’ rendition of Kinsey Locke, particularly at her delivery during the more emotional scenes between her and her mother.
Apprehension at listening to an adapted comic book versus an adapted a novel is understandable, as one wonders if something would be lost in transitioning the story from a visual medium to a purely audio format. Luckily those worries are dismissed withing minutes of listening. The effort in creating a higher production value is apparent as you listen, perhaps as a result of recording outside of a conventional venue. Peter Van Riet’s original score welcomes you to Keyhouse Manor with notes of foreboding, and makes the 13 hours of audiobook fly by. To help transition more fluidly, some scenes were briefly introduced by the narrator, and there were lots of neat sound effects, particularly for shadows during the Crown of Shadows arc. All together these helped replace a panel layout to better utilize your imagination when listening along.
Overall, it’s a feast for your fucking ears.
I finished the audiobook just in time to experience an immersive Oculus Rift experience at New York Comic Con this past weekend, courtesy of the Audible booth, where we got a peek at a pivotal scene from the comics between Bode and Dodge set to the performance in the audio book.
Be sure to keep an eye on AudioComics for future projects, subscribe to their Youtube, follow their twitter, and if you’ve had the blessed opportunity to listen to this amazing adaptation, leave a review over on Audible! After all, Locke & Key is free to download until November 4th, 2015…if you dare.
Knowing that graphic novels CAN be adapted to an audiobook whets my appetite for more properties to explore this medium. Rat Queens anyone? What would you like to see adapted in the future?