Back in February, DC Comics and IDW announced Locke & Key: Hell and Gone, a crossover publishing event bringing together the worlds of the former’s classic Sandman comics and the latter’s award-winning Locke & Key series. The Locke & Key comics team, writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, were slated to do the same for the new book, which was initially set to premiere this October.
“For years, we’ve been talking about doing a Locke & Key/Sandman crossover, and we’re finally doing it,” says Hill on Friday (June 19) when we catch up with him about the new season of NOS4A2. “That’s actually finally happening.”
The news might have gotten a little lost in the ensuing eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, which for a while completely shut down the comics industry just like so many others. Likewise, further news came in April from Hill, who wrote that he and Rodriguez were working on a prelude to Hell and Gone as well.
“There’s a new Locke & Key story coming out called Locke & Key: In Pale Battalions Go, about World War One,” confirms Hill when we ask about the project. “I think the first issue of that comes out in August. There’s three issues in all, and it sets off the Locke & Key/Sandman crossover, which is called Hell and Gone.”
Asked if Sandman writer Neil Gaiman is involved in the project, even as a consultant, Hill quips, “He’s definitely consulting, whether he likes it or not, since I email him whenever I have a question.”
Hill adds that when it comes to the Locke & Key comics — as opposed to the recently renewed Netflix series based on the book — he’s hesitant to collaborate with anyone other than Rodriguez.
“It’s funny about Locke & Key, because it’s been so exciting to develop the TV show and work with Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill,” says Hill. “They’re amazing writers and they’ve got an amazing team of writers. About the comic though, I’m very jealous. I haven’t really let anyone fool around in the Locke & Key space. It’s just me and Gabe. It will just be me and Gabe on the Sandman crossover.”
As for whether Hell and Gone will meet its original October publication date, Hill muses, “You know how comics work. The fantasy was that the first issue of Hell and Gone would come out in October. More realistically, I think we’ll probably see it in December.” Hill adds that Hell and Gone will most likely be “two issues, and probably oversized issues. 32 pages or 48 pages, something like that.”
Although he’s got In Pale Battalions Go, Hell and Gone and another Locke & Key book — World War Key 0: The Golden Age — in the pipeline, along with a couple of new comics projects, Hill is also working on his first novel since 2016’s The Fireman.
“I wasn’t sure there was going to be another novel after The Fireman,” admits Hill. “I was pretty spent. I was writing some good short stories and novellas and stuff, but I hadn’t quite settled on anything where I felt like I could go long.”
Check back with us shortly for more with Joe Hill on season 2 of NOS4A2, which premieres Sunday (June 21) on AMC.