Spaces of Horror in Locke and Key

Authors: Round, J.

Conference: Comics Forum

Dates: 21-22 September 2017


This paper examines the use of space to construct and convey horror in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key (IDW, 2018-2013). It considers the use of spatial markers of horror such as landscape and setting (the haunted house, the cave), and also reflects on the way in which this comic constructs a particular literary space of horror with respect to the background and context of the American comics industry.

It opens with a brief background of the origins of the horror genre in American comics, and its contemporary realisation in works by publishers such as IDW and Avatar. It then proceeds to establish the cultural space within which Locke and Key situates itself by using literary markers (Lovecraftian references) and established horror tropes taken from various sub-genres (serial killers, possession, ghosts, the haunted house).

The main body of the paper examines the use of these motifs in this text. It uses close reading to argue that, despite its numerous literary markers, Locke and Key privileges spatial motifs of horror in both text and image, and reflects on the role of the comics medium in achieving this.

Source: Manual