Amazon's Audible Studios and digital creative agency Firstborn teamed up to bring the comic books series Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill and artwork by Gabriel Rodriquez, to life in a rich binaural audio, 360-degree virtual reality experience at New York Comic Con 2015.
Published by IDW Publishing, Locke & Key tells the story of the Locke kids, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode, as they move across the country with their mother Nina to Lovecraft after the murder of their father at the hands of deranged killer Sam Lesser. The family moves into the Keyhouse, a place father Rendell Locke stayed at in his childhood, which was built on a portal to another dimension.
The house is filled with hidden keys that can unlock doors and give the user supernatural abilities such as temporarily leaving their body with the Ghost Key, opening up their head to learn things or forget things with the Head Key, or traveling to any place they wish with the Anywhere Key. But Keyhouse is also filled with spells that cause the residents to forget about the magic and keys on their 18th birthday.
Debuting in 2008, Locke & Key consists of six collected editions that include: Welcome to Lovecraft, Head Games, Crown of Shadows, Keys to the Kingdom, Clockworks and Omega, with six issues per miniseries, seven in Omega, along with two one-shots.
And now Audible just released the Locke & Key audiobook on Oct. 5 that features a cast of 50 voice actors including Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), and appearances by Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the New Black), Rodriguez, Hill, and even a cameo from Hill's father, author Stephen King.
The Audible Locke & Key VR Experience demo at Comic Con featured an 80-second clip inside the Wellhouse. For fans of the comic, we know that the Wellhouse is where the Dodge resides, the possessed character who is trapped there (who is first introduced as a woman, thanks to the Gender Key), who convinces Sam Lesser to attack Rendell Locke and go after the family for the key to free himself from the well, along with the Omega Key.
Using an Oculus VR headset and headphones, the pages of the comic come to life like never before as the user enters the scene where Bode meet Dodge for the first time. Not a stranger to VR experiences, I was pleased to be able to completely look around the grounds of Keyhouse as young Bode is "fishing" for hidden treasures in the pool, seeing the house up ahead, watch adorable Bode stand back facing me, and the Wellhouse to the right. Like Bode, I found myself curious to check out the Wellhouse and, luckily, I was able to follow him right in.
That is when I heard the familiar "Echo" as featured in the comic, as Bode attempts to get a closer look. Of course the well is located in the center of the room, and just like Bode, the user gets to look down the dark, seemingly bottomless well. That's when we get a look at the female version of Bode with long, black hair and that sinister grin. Bode then runs away scared and the experience ends.
This short taste made me hungry for more, and I was wishing I could then go explore the house. Even still, it was a fun way to see the story unfold right in front of my eyes.
The audiobook is currently available to download for free until Nov. 4, when it will then retail for $19.99. Fans can listen to the Locke & Key audio book at audible.com/keyhouse.
For more Comic Con news, check out T-Lounge coverage of New York Comic Con 2015.
Photo: IDW Publishing | Audible