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C2E2 Interview: David Pepose on Going to the Chapel and Spencer & Locke 2

There are constantly new comics being announced. One of the best things about comic conventions is that I get to preview new comics and talk to creators about their new books. One of those new books is Going to the Chapel, from Spencer & Locke creator David Pepose, who I had the opportunity to interview at C2E2.

First, I want to ask you about your new book Going to the Chapel. So what can you tell us?

The best way to describe Going to the Chapel is it’s Die Hard meets Arrested Development at a wedding.

It’s the story of the worst wedding ever — and that was before the bank robbers showed up. It centers around Emily Anderson, a nervous bride who finds herself in the middle of her own hostage situation and how she winds up playing both sides against the middle to get out in one piece.

It’s about love, dysfunctional families, fear of commitment and what exactly does it take to make that leap of faith to say “till death do us part.”

I feel like rom coms get a bad rap and, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a guilty consumer of rom coms. So, I wanted to write one that I thought would bring as many people to the table as possible. People have described it as ’90s Julia Roberts starring in ’90s Quentin Tarantino and I’ll take that compliment. I just think that rom coms are a grossly underserved genre especially in the direct market. And I just felt why not go for it. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

I worked with talented people like artist Gavin Guidry, this is his direct market debut, he is superb, colorist Liz Kramer, this is also her directorial debut – I keep saying she’s going to be the next Laura Martin – and then veteran letterer Arianna Maher, who is sort of keeping this all in line and making sure that all of our one liners sing the way they need to. We’ve got some amazing cover artists on board as well. I can’t disclose all of them but I can’t say Lisa Sterle is doing a cover for our first issue, Maan House, one of my variant artists for Spencer & Locke, is also going to be doing a round of variants for us, along with Gavin Guidry as well.

Tell me more about Emily and the other characters. There seems like there’s going to be a lot of different characters, a lot of different personalities, so what can you tell me about them, about the process, and the kind of inspiration and influences you had when making them?

Well, you know some of this came from Spencer & Locke. In the original Spencer & Locke, there’s a pretty tightly casted story, there’s not a whole lot of characters to it. So, for my next book I wanted something very sprawling and to have a lot of people. We have 15 different characters all locked into one location. That was kind of a cool interesting challenge as a writer.

As far as inspiration goes, I was the best man at my oldest friend’s wedding and as the guy in charge of planning the bachelor party I can say is it was truly cursed. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

The Air B&B was trashed. The inflatable sumo set I rented did not fit in the backyard. Some of the groomsmen bailed at the last minute because they didn’t want to pay. Then I actually got hospitalized two days before the bachelor party with a kidney stones. So, I couldn’t actually go to the bachelor party I planned then wound up having to try to bail everything out on the wrong side of the country over the phone on Percocet. So, I said to myself, “Thank goodness this didn’t happen during the wedding.” And then I thought to myself, “but what if it did.”

Fairy tales sort of make it look like love is easy, but I think it’s a very complicated thing and there’s a lot of thought that should go into it. That’s something that Emily is grappling with. Her very first line in the series is, “Oh God I’m about to ruin my life.” I think that’s something that people can relate to. She’s going to find her romantic path of dealing with her fiancé Jesse, who’s a very sweet, mild-mannered, well-meaning, architect who is going stop at nothing to rescue his bride to be, and Tom, the leader of the Bad Elvis Gang, whose dynamic with Emily is going to drive the story itself. I can’t say too much about the Bad Elvis Gang’s motives for hitting this particular wedding, but I can say this is a gang of bank robbers that are Elvis themed and they did not expect how dysfunctional Emily’s family is.

So, it’s a little bit of a bit like The Bluths from Arrested Development were caught in the middle of a bank robbery and how they might react, except in a church. It’s got a lot of the same sense of humor as Spencer & Locke, but it’s a little bit more of a lighthearted read. I’m really excited for people to read it.

You specifically mentioned Tarantino and The Runaway Bride, and you’ve got a sign there that says Die Hard, and with a lot of the action movies and rom coms, what makes them so unique is the reoccurring troupes that each one has, did you find when blending those two genres and those troops that they fit together? Or was it a challenge to make them mesh?

No, I think you hit it right on the head. They actually meld together surprisingly well. And I think part of it, this was the thing that really attracted me to this project, is weddings have a lot of imagery to them that you can play with. Which was particularly fun. Using the chapel as its own environment and how does somebody who’s playing both sides of a hostage situation, how does she leverage things like a wedding bell and the various accoutrements of a wedding. How do you use that when you have police officers outside ready to break down the door?

It’s kind of like Spencer & Locke where I’m also able to play one genre against the other. Anytime I’m having issues moving forward that’s usually a good signal for me to say why don’t I try this other side of things. If I if the action isn’t coming, maybe it’s a good time for an interlude either to see how Emily is dealing with her fiancée or how Emily’s dysfunctional family is handling captivity. On the other side of the equation, if I’m having difficulty juggling all these characters maybe there’s a chance to throw them into an action sequence.

You’ve got a lot of characters who I’m sure all play a major part, but would you say that Emily is the main character?

Emily is the central figure, which is something I felt there was really important for the series. I think it’s a little bit of a cliché to say, “Oh man you know guys they can’t commit.” So I thought up the idea of having a female lead who’s dealing with these issues of commitment and ideas about what is love supposed to look like. I thought that was something you don’t see a lot of in pop culture. But I this is the question of me putting my money where our mouth is.

I love the original Spencer & Locke but the one shortcoming that I see in it was we didn’t really have as many opportunities for diversity and representation as I would have liked, so with Going to the Chapel, that’s something I wanted to course correct. Having a female lead and two men of color as the romantic interests in this book was really important. I wrote this series before Crazy Rich Asians came out but I thought to myself, “How many sexy Asian dreamboats do you see as romantic lead in movies?” I felt that was something really important to have in there.

Also, I think having as diverse a cast as possible is my responsibility as a creator. I’ve looked in the mirror, I know I’m a white guy, but trying to diversify my content in terms of the creators that I’m working with, in terms of the characters involved, in terms of the genres that I’m working in, I feel like that’s my responsibility. That’s something that every creator should be doing. It not only makes moral sense, it makes financial and creative sense. I think that’s the only way that comics are going to move forward is if we sort of include as many different people from as many different backgrounds as possible. We need to bring people to the table and that’s always been a goal about writing. And that’s why I’m so excited for Chapel to come out. I think it’s going to speak to a very different audience than my Spencer & Locke crew, but I think the overlap is going to be surprisingly big.

Image result for spencer and locke 2

I know we’ve been talking about Going to the Chapel, but I was also hoping you could give us a little bit of information on what Spencer & Locke 2 is going to be about?

Well, the original Spencer & Locke is: “What if of Calvin and Hobbes grew up in Sin City?” For Volume 2, we’re taking the Fables approach. No comic strip is safe. We’re going hardcore Calvin and Hobbes versus hardcore Beetle Bailey.

Our first series is kind of like True Detective while our sequel is going to be more like The Dark Knight. Roach Reilly is the sole survivor of his platoon overseas. He saw some stuff and while we might say that broke him, he would say that the scales have fallen from his eyes. He’s come back with a very twisted, nihilistic philosophy on the nature of pain and suffering, which puts him at odds with Spencer and Locke, who are still grappling with the fallout from their last investigation. Without spoiling too much, they confronted a lot of the tormentors from their past in the first series and they found they don’t feel any better.

They’re going to learn that catharsis doesn’t come from the end of a gun and using violence to avenge your past doesn’t resolve it, it just causes more violence. I wanted to make a villain that was worthy of these characters and I really think Roach is. We’ve expanded our cast, there’s a big world out there, we’ve got our riffs on Hi and Lois, Brenda Starr, Marmaduke, Jailbird, Hagar the Horrible, and so many more. And though Spencer and Locke are still the heart of this universe, they’re going to have to dig in very deep to beat an enemy that is bigger, stronger, meaner and better equipped than them. The only difference is that Locke is never entering any room alone. But he and Spencer’s dynamic is certainly going to evolve over the seriously as is Locke’s dynamic with his daughter, Hero, who’s going to play a much bigger role in the series.

Where can we find you on social media and when can we expect to see Going to the Chapel and Spencer & Locke 2?

You can follow the book though @GoToTheChapel, it’s on Facebook Twitter and Instagram. We will be shouting for the rooftops when it’s available for preorder. But it’ll be coming out right on the heels of Spencer & Locke 2, either around when the trade drops or right afterwards. And you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, @PeposeD.

David Pepose’s Spencer & Locke 2 will be hitting stores May 1st and make sure to stay on the look out for Going to the Chapel!



Rachel Freeman
Rachel Freeman
Rachel Freeman is a staff writer and comic review editor at Pop Break. She regularly contributes comic book reviews, such as The Power of the Dark Crystal, Savage Things, Mother Panic, Dark Nights: Metal, Rose, and more. She also contributes anime reviews, such as Berserk, Garo: Vanishing Line and Attack on Titan as well as TV reviews. She has been part of The BreakCast for the Definitive Defenders Podcast. Outside of her writing for Pop Break, Rachel is currently a pre-school teacher. She is a college graduate with her BA in History and MAED. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @Raychikinesis.

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