This Friday, Locke and Key returns for Season 2 on Netflix! To celebrate, we are continuing our special interviews with the series’ cast and crew! Today, we’re speaking with the the one and only creators of the Locke and Key comic series, as well as the executive producers of the Netflix series, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez.
The Nerds of Color, along with other members of the press, were incredibly lucky to talk to this legendary duo of comic creators about the new season, including differences between their award-winning comic book series, and the show. Here’s what they had to say:
The comics are template for the Netflix series. Was there anything you couldn’t put in the comics that you were able to add to the series?
HILL: I dont know that there was any one specific element… the TV show does offer such a broad canvas. There’s so much less narrative real estate in a comic book… If you just filmed what was in a comic book, you’d have a 12-minute TV show. One issue would translate to 12 minutes of screentime, if that. So in the context of a TV show there’s so much more you can explore. You can explore so much more about the hearts of the characters and the relationships with each other. You can have a conversation that would fill half your comic is only three minutes of TV time. So there’s a chance to explore the characters at a depth you can only hint at in a comic. Everything in comics is shorthand… You need to do everything you can to keep it short and tight.
Were there things you really wanted to put it but don’t work on television?
RODRIGUEZ: I think one of the things that has been interesting so far that we’ve seen in the show and have a few hints of where we’re headed in upcoming seasons, is that basically the TV show has allowed us room to explore stuff that we just have very few instances to try in the comics… the chance to exploit, for example, the powers of the Plant Key in the comics. In the comics it makes an appearance in a single panel where we introduce the concept. But then we didn’t have room to keep exploring the kinds of stories we could keep telling with that type of key. So as we’ve said before..it’s all about thinking up exactly what you want to say on the page because the room is so little. And when you have a big concept, story, and idea you have to be careful about strategically picking the stuff you actually need to tell your story. Whereas in a TV show you can devote and entire episode to a concept that could have been introduced in a single panel of a comic book. So that has been awesome to find ways in which the creators of the show have expanded the concept of the comic and the cast of characters. That’s another interesting thing to see coming to flesh on the TV show. In the comic you have a very narrow path to drive your lead characters, and the supporting cast has to be placed strategically throughout the story. Whereas on the TV show we already saw an entire additional cast of characters surrounding our main protagonists in the story… and that’s going to keep expanding in the seasons to come.
Do you have input on the visual changes made for the show as they depart from the visuals of the comic?
RODRIGUEZ: Well the production team of the show has been kind enough to invite me from time to time to give opinions to certain changes, and to ask questions on ideas we had in mind when we were developing the visual stuff of the comic and how that’s had an effect on the story. And the interesting thing has been how they’ve been able to use those concepts and use the visual stuff from the comic and give it a new life on the TV show. When you face an adaptation you’re engaging into a creative process not a translation process. And that’s a key element for me. In the way the creators of the show have found in the comic book six creative suggestions they want to exploit for derivation for Locke and Key the TV show… I’m very comfortable thinking the people in charge of the series are really into the mythology and what the characters are about. So the stuff they’ve done on their own is really true to the spirit of the Locke and Key books… I know they love the story and respect the characters and are putting a lot of creative amazing talents into work to make this the most exciting and visually appealing show they can make. And that’s more than enough for me. For me it becomes a creative feeding experience just watching the show… For me a creator is a way for me to feed my own creativity and start thinking of new challenges for new books we’ll be doing.
What elements taken from the comic series have become your favorite part of Season Two?
RODRIGUEZ: I haven’t seen the actual season yet, but I know certain things they’re going to do with the story of the second season. I can’t mention my favorite things because [they are spoilers]. But I got to say we really are going to see… I can mention that we’re going to see more action in Season 2 in upcoming episodes… You gotta do a first season where you build up the scenario, set the stage, the rules, and characters. And do as much as you can with the resources you have…First season is always a risk because you have to figure out how the show is going to work with the audience and see if you have room to explore more… This show has such a massive support in the first season, that the creators of the series were given carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to tell their story for the show. So there’s no boundaries now… The way in which you’ll experience this universe is going to be immense… Be ready to have a very intense, fun, exciting experience for the second season!
How much input do you and Joe have in the making of the show?
RODRIGUEZ: We were approached by the production team at the very beginning of the development of the series when they introduced what they want to do with the characters. And we immediately engaged with the concept they have for the series. So even though we knew there were going to be a lot of changes, those changes made sense to us in the way they wanted to approach the story. In a way, this is similar to what happened to us when we started doing the comic book for IDW. One of the things that make the books as sound as they are is that basically IDW allowed us to do whichever we wanted to do to the story. They trusted in the concept and in our creative skills, and allowed us to take this story whichever way we wanted, and explore it in the best possible way as creators with the tools we have. That experience gave Joe and myself the same sort of approach and respect to other creators doing their own things with this book. I’m very aware Carlton and Meredith really love the source material. And everyone we’ve met that is involved in the production… they all love the original story and want to give their best version of the story on the show. So we’ve never had any disagreements with the approach they have… When you transform media from one source to another you have to understand changes are necessary… You have to understand that because you don’t want the best interpretation of the comic on screen, you want the best version of the story possible.
What is your favorite key from a storytelling point of view?
RODRIGUEZ: I think one of the things that’s most interesting was the fact that… how a key bends reality is affects how we approach the storytelling. There are certain keys that work better for certain action sequences. Certain keys in which you bend the way the storytelling of the comic works. For example, something that was really effective in the comic book… was changing the art style according to what the keys were doing to people using it. So when you had the one shot, Sparrow, in which they find the Animal Key, and Bode and his brothers had a different experience of the key, it got translated in different art styles. That’s a very interesting thing to explore creatively. And in a way the show is going to have different tones in different episodes according to the potential to the way each key exploits the story. So for example, for me, in the comic book, it was always fun to work on the Angel Key. Because just having a character that can fly around and exploit the action/adventure feel of the story is completely different from when someone uses the Anywhere Key for example. Or something that was always painful to read was the Crown of Shadows was going to be used in the comic because just drawing the crown itself was a major challenge, and you knew immediately your cast of characters grows from 4 to 40 in a single scene. But it was incredibly fun to watch in the sequences in the comic and the kind of impact it had.
Do you think there will ever be characters exclusively from the show that may make it into the comics?
RODRIGUEZ: Well the thing we’ve talked about with Joe, is that there’s probably never going to be an exact translation of a character from the show to the comic because the show is telling onscreen a story we’ve already told in the comic (the story of Tyler, Kinsey, Bode, and Nina). And if we’re ever to get back to those characters, we’ll get back to them in a different moment of their life, it won’t be that sort of translation… But realizing these changes in the series and making these new characters have given us ideas for developing other new characters in the comics and approaching other moments in the Locke family history in a different, richer way. So even though you’re not probably going to get a character from the show to the comics, probably lots of characters that will appear in the books in future stories… are going to be fed by the experience of seeing these other new creations relating to the mythology. They certainly fed us and gave us new ideas for the story!
The new season of Locke and Key debuts tomorrow, October 22, only on Netflix!