It’s been years since I read the original Locke & Key comics, but they absolutely blew me away when they first came out. Small World is a “one-shot” supplementary story, one of a handful charted for the “Golden Age” of Keyhouse, and it features a Klein bottle effect with a dollhouse that appears to simulate but actually positions the functioning Keyhouse within itself. The story relies on an informed readership who know something about the crazy magicks of the Locke family and their mansion.
Although Joe Hill does a good job of creating distinctive characters for the Golden Age here, a single comics issue is not really sufficient to cultivate the sort of affection I experienced for his protagonists in the original series. And this book, despite its hardcover format and apparent “graphic novel” length, is really no more than a single comic book. It is extensively padded out with reproductions of every conceivable draft and rough on the way to the finished product: manuscript facsimiles, typescript, panel breakdowns, pencil sketches, etc., etc. The comic itself takes up less than half of the volume. This publishing trick is not new, and I find myself less and less interested in these exhibitions of process.
Gabriel Rodriguez’s art is still awesome, and the book does include one of those breathtaking two-page spreads that he pulled off regularly in the original series.