(Courtesy of Action Lab Entertainment)
Villain Media has an exclusive interview with artist Jorge Santiago Jr. who talks about the highly anticipated return of Spencer & Locke 2 #1 (Action Lab Entertainment). Santiago opens up about what readers should expect from the next stage of the upcoming Spencer & Locke series!
Spencer & Locke follows Detective Locke as he continues fights crime. In his never-ending battle, he doesn’t have to do this alone. Locke has the help of his partner and childhood imaginary friend, Spencer, a talking panther.
Arriving in stores on May 1st 2019, Jorge Santiago Jr. discusses how the look of Spencer & Locke 2 came about, the significance of Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey comic strip, and how clothes make up the Big Bad. Because we’re Villain Media, we also talk about why we’re rooting for Roach Riley! Check out our interview with writer David Pepose as we head into the artist’s studio and dive into the craft of illustrations.
Villain Media: After the first volume, what excited you the most about returning for Spencer & Locke 2?
Jorge Santiago Jr.: I was really looking forward to expanding the world for Spencer and Locke 2. The first volume really focuses on the main characters and their family, but with volume 2, we get to see how much bigger the world is. And by adding other comic strips into our world, we can really dig deep and mine some interesting story from here on!
VM: The story kicks off with Roach Riley. What was the challenge of paying tribute to Beetle Bailey?
JSJ: The biggest challenge for the Roach Riley sections was creating the same feeling as our Calvin and Hobbes homages for the first volume. The trick to any of these segments is that the art has to feel like the comic strip, but it has to look like I drew it. I wanted to pay my respects and show my love for these comic strips that I grew up with. But still put enough of my style and storytelling into them, that they don’t feel too disconnected from the main comic. I’m excited for people to read issues 2 and 3, because that’s where I really got to flex my muscles with these sequences.
VM: I love that Locke wears a leather jacket and Spencer has a the traditional trench coat. It has such a Sin City and Miami Vice look.Tell me what influenced you with their wardrobe?
JSJ: For Locke, I wanted to create the image of a contemporary big city detective, and that meant giving him a look that didn’t feel too out of place or too dated, as far as what we think a “detective” looks like. I actually modeled one of Locke’s jackets off of Leon Kennedy from the Resident Evil series because I love him. And also, Locke sort of evokes that Leon Kennedy “totally the coolest dude in the room” vibe, but is also a little off the wall. For his main look, I went with a standard detective uniform, but I found ways to put his individuality into it. Like his tie is always loose with his shirt never fully buttoned, the biker style leather jacket with his hands are in his pockets. His image just feels like someone who is bucking tradition. Locke doesn’t see himself as the perfect detective so in his dress, I wanted to show that lack of effort, or perhaps his lack of interest in being perfect since he’s aware of how broken he is.
With Spencer, giving him the trench coat felt right because I wanted Spencer to be what Locke believes is the “perfect detective” and that idea is one built off of cliches. Spencer wears that coat because it feels so rooted in noir mythology. And he’s a hulking beast of a cat because Locke needs to believe he has the ultimate fighter as his backup in order to feel safe. I had considered maybe pitching Spencer wearing a Fedora too, but that felt too much so I kept that to myself. By comparison with Locke, Spencer’s tie is always straight, his shirt is always fully buttoned and tucked in, and his clothing is always clean. Because Spencer, I think, represents order within Locke’s mind. You can actually tell how Locke is feeling a lot of the time by how I’m drawing Spencer, like in Volume 1 Issue 2 when they enter the strip club. Spencer is visually very uncomfortable the entire time. I wanted that to be a clue to Locke’s mental space since, as we find out, the person who owns the club is someone Locke is very afraid of. So while Locke may put on the act of being calm and collected, Spencer has no such filter. They’re mirrors of each other after all, in more ways that you might imagine; even their damaged eyes are mirrored.
VM: Tell me about Melinda Mercury, star reporter and potential love interest.
JSJ: Melinda Mercury is one of my favorite new additions to the story, mainly because I love telling stories with women at the helm. Melinda is a great lady because in my mind, she feels like the person with the most grasp on what is happening in the story. Without giving away too much, Melinda is in a lot of ways one of the most important characters in the story and drawing her was so much fun. I hope everyone enjoys watching her be totally awesome as the series goes on.
VM: Tell me about creating the military look of Roach. I noticed you keep his eyes hidden with the cap on his head.
JSJ: Roach’s design I came up with almost immediately after getting the notes from David about his story. I drew an image of him that I think was shared around a few places, and his design didn’t change too much after that. Although the changes that did occur will be amazing reveals I think! When we were coming up with Roach, it was important that he never feel over muscled like Bane or the Hulk. Because Roach was for a good stretch of his life a slacker, we wanted to incorporate that into his body type. We also had him slouch because we wanted him to feel, even when he’s wailing on Locke and Spencer, that he’s not even really trying. You can see the slacker in a lot of design: his boots are never completely laced, his clothes aren’t ever really kept clean. And as for his eyes, there’s a reason why we never show them, and you’ll see in later issues when some of the truth of his design is revealed! I’m sorry I keep answering that way, but I want people to read and freak out!
VM: I love the 9 panel fight sequence between Roach and Locke. It jumps back and forth between comic strips to their actual fight. Tell me how this sequence came about.
JSJ: This fight was a tricky one because of those story jumps, but the rhythm of the stylistic changes was a fun one to play around with. I think that Roach and Locke are a unique pair because they’ve both suffered from tragedies. But somehow [they] have ended up on opposites sides of the line of good and evil. These panels that show us some of their pasts are important because it just further shows that ultimately, Locke and Roach were both victims at one point. And watching them fight like this is another tragedy in it’s own way.
VM: How has Spencer & Locke changed you as an artist?
JSJ: Well before Spencer & Locke, I had never really worked with a writer before. When I draw comics for myself, I’m usually creating all of this symbolism and storytelling on my own. So one of the fun aspects of working with David [Pepose] is that he has his own symbolism that he’s weaving into the narrative, that I’m trying to do my best to live up to, while weaving my own ideas in at the same time. Hopefully this makes for a more interesting comic book, since comics are the blend of writing and art into one. So hopefully by the time people get to issue 4, they’ll have an idea of what each of us was bringing to the table and how we managed to amplify it by working together.
VM: What are you working on now?
JSJ: Right now I’m working on my webcomic Curse of the Eel, as well as working on freelance projects as I can manage them.
Readers can visit the official website at jorgesantiagojr.com or they can email the artist at email@example.com.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]
Spencer & Locke 2 #1 arrives in stores May 1st, 2019.