We’d like to give a huge welcome to Jorge Santiago, Jr. on behalf of all of us at On Comics Ground. Jorge is a Ringo-nominated creator and artist, with best known for Curse of the Eel and Spencer & Locke, respectively.
Thank you for taking the time to discuss Spencer & Locke with me, and once again, welcome.
Alec Thorn: What has it been like to work on a project as ambitious and unique as Spencer & Locke, and what drove you to work with David Pepose?
Jorge Santiago Jr: Working on Spencer & Locke has been an interesting experience; this is my first time working with a writer so it has taught me a lot about the teamwork necessary for a good writer and artist team to have to make a comic that resonates with readers. David approached me as I was about to graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design with my MFA in Sequential Art, and it was a case of amazing timing as David wanted to work on this crime book right at the time I was most interested in studying crime fiction. After that, it was all about trying to tell a good story with a good heart, while also trying to make our readers cry (always my main goal).
AT: With the characters of Spencer and Locke being based on Calvin and Hobbes in a dark, satirized manner, and now with Roach Riley in the sequel coming into the mix as a dark satire version of Beetle Bailey, what other classic comic strips would you like to incorporate into future series?
JSJ: This is a tricky one, I don’t know if the dark noir take works on every comic strip, but I think Family Circus, the Boondocks, and even Funky Winkerbean could hold up full arcs if approached properly.
AT: With a Spencer & Locke film adaptation announced, who would you pick to play the characters, and why?
JSJ: This is a tough one, I don’t really follow a ton of actors so I’d have to think. For Locke, maybe Joseph Gordon Levitt? I’ve loved him in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in and I think he could handle the pain and grit of Locke really well. When I was designing the grown up Spencer, I was envisioning Terry Crews’ physique, and I think since he is such a nice guy, he could portray Spencer really well. The only other person who pops into my head is Matthew McConaughey as Roach, just because when I hear Roach’s voice in my head, it has that deep southern drawl buried within an intimidating growl. I also used him for visual inspiration for some of Roach’s posture and how he carries himself. Oh, Woody Harrelson would be an awesome Roach too!
AT: What have been your inspirations for your art style when illustrating the scenes set in the present in Spencer & Locke, if any?
JSJ: The present day art of S&L is a little more gritty and detailed version of my normal drawing style, which is a huge cocktail of a number of artists that I love and respect. Off the top of my head, the artists who have most influenced my art style are Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Stuart Immonen (Russian Olive to Red King), Natsume Ono (Not Simple), Paul Azaceta (Outcast), Yusuke Murata (One Punch Man), and Yutaka Nakamura (animator on Cowboy Bebop, and pretty much every anime I love). There are more but this list is probably too long already.
AT: The use of having past events illustrated in the classic comic strip style is harrowing and incredibly effective. What was it like to use that style to showcase Locke’s childhood trauma?
JSJ: Using the comic strip inspired art style for flashbacks is probably the sharpest arrow in our quiver. By varying up the drawing style for those flashbacks, readers immediately know when they’re reading a flashback or not, so it helps us avoid a lot of captioning to set the scene, which can be jarring when you’re jumping around in location and time. The other reason I think they’re effective is that I believe these art styles simulate what memory is actually like. Memory is tricky because it’s very rare to have a perfect unbiased recollection of any event, so I think one of the cool aspects of these art changes is that they represent, to Locke and Roach, a time before their innocence was taken from them. Even if a reader doesn’t know exactly the strips we are referencing, they can interpret these art style changes as Locke and Roach’s imperfect memories, telling us about their pain before their world became gritty and dark.
AT: Who has been your favourite character to illustrate, and why?
JSJ: It’s a toss up between Hero and Locke. I think what makes Locke such an interesting character is that he’s still trying to do the right thing. It would have been easy for Locke to have gone down a bad path with all the things that have happened to him, but Locke is still stumbling towards the end of that storm, and I think that makes him a character with a story that begs to be drawn. I also love drawing Hero because she represents all of the good that Locke doesn’t think he deserves, but is the only thing moving him forward. If Hero wasn’t rooting for her dad, he might not make it out of that storm.
Once again, it’s been amazing having you here on our site, and thank you so much for your time! To everyone reading, feel free to follow him on Twitter at @JorgeSantiagoJr.
Spencer & Locke Volume 1 is available now from Action Lab: Danger Zone, and Issue #1 of Volume 2 has just released. Feel free to also follow the official Twitter account at @SpencerAndLocke for updates. This title is something truly special that we highly recommend!