Adapting A Classic
David Pepose ’05 adds a dark twist to a childhood classic in his own comic series
“I’m a big fan of mashups and remix culture,” David Pepose ’08 said in an interview with the Justice. Combined with a lifelong passion for comics, it’s no surprise that Pepose would one day publish his own comic series, “Spencer and Locke,” which he describes as what would have happened if Calvin and Hobbes lived in Sin City.
At Brandeis, Pepose majored in American Studies and double-minored in Creative Writing and Theatre. He also worked as the news editor of the Hoot for several years and directed and acted in plays for the Undergraduate Theatre Collective. “And I was the president of the Brandeis Comic Book Club — perhaps no big surprise there,” Pepose laughed. “I was and continue to be a huge comic nerd. I still read comics every week.”
As president of the Comic Book Club, Pepose made sure that the club ordered books to add to their extensive comic collection every semester. “[My time at Brandeis] was great. I really enjoyed my experience, I made a lot of great friends, and I took a lot of great classes.”
Of the classes Pepose took at Brandeis, Pepose noted those of Prof. Cohen (AMST), Prof. Whitfield (AMST), Prof. Doherty (AMST), and Prof. Weinberg (ENG). Pepose specifically credits Weinberg for helping to refine his screenwriting skills. “Every time I sit down to write, I can hear Marc [Weinberg] in my head, and it was him who really helped me find my voice as a writer,” Pepose said.
Following his graduation, Pepose wanted to work in comics but wasn’t sure if it was feasible. “It was sort of a pie-in-the-sky dream,” he said. Yet after applying to an internship with DC Comics his sophomore, junior and senior years and getting rejected, Pepose was able to secure the coveted position for the year after his graduation. “I kept knocking on the door until they finally let me in,” he explained. Following this internship, he completed a graduate publishing program at Columbia University and worked at CBS for several years in New York. “It was very much a zig-zag career but comics were always in the back of my head,” he said.
He eventually started working as for Newsarama.com, industry news sites. “I feel like the more you read, the more you know, and having written at Newsarama, that also forced me to learn what I do like about comics [and] what I do not like about comics ... it kind of helped me find my voice.” But Pepose wanted to do more than write reviews. “A few years ago, I finally said to myself, ‘I love comics as an industry, and I’d really love to contribute in a different sort of way.’ So I just sat down one day, sort of had an idea for a script, and decided, I’m gonna turn this thing out and see it through to the end and hopefully we’ll find a publisher that sees the value in it, and thankfully we did.”
To begin the process of creating the comic series, Pepose wrote a panel-to-panel script. Comics usually range from 20-22 pages. “Once you can do that, the part of the process is trying to find an artist. And that is the hardest part of the entire process, in my opinion, because you want to find the right partner. It’s like any good partnership or any good marriage: you want to find the right person to work with,” Pepose said. In his case, this perfect partner was Jorge Santiago, Jr. Also on the “Spencer and Locke” team were colorist Jasen Smith and Letterer Colin Bell. Together they created a six-page spread and cover to pitch to publishers. Though they faced rejection — “I think just by virtue of the subject matter,” Pepose explained — Action Lab Entertainment responded to the team’s pitch an hour after they sent it in. “And that’s sort of when the fun begins. That’s when you really hunker down with the rest of your team … and I did for about the better part of a year until we got the book finished,” Pepose said.
As they wrote the rest of their comic, Pepose had one requirement: “I told myself that if this is the only comic I’d ever get to write that I’d want to fit in as much cool stuff in it as I could. So we have fist fights, car chases, gun fights, aliens, dinosaurs — this concept has proved to be nimble in terms of what we could do with it.”
“Spencer and Locke” will be available for pre-order starting Wednesday and will be in stores April 2017. “I’m very much looking forward to seeing what readers think,” Pepose said.
An earlier version of this article stated that Pepose graduated from Brandeis in 2005. He actually graduated in 2008.