Commentary: ‘Locke And Key’ & ‘Something Is Killing The Children’ Share A Trope

by Frank Martin

There’s something special about an adventure story starring kids — probably because it’s so often in the real world that kids are put down and limited in what they can do. So to see them rise to the occasion and challenge authority while facing real danger can be quite powerful. But there’s a certain problem with these kinds of stories. Mainly, how and why don’t the parents and other adults get involved? Sometimes the answer is simple. Take The Goonies for example, where the parents just aren’t around.

But what of stories told in a longer format? The Goonies works because the kids are on adventure for a single night. But if the story takes place over the course of a couple days, the kids would have to interact with parents at some point. How does the story keep the suspense alive without drawing grown-ups into the picture? Fortunately for tales in a supernatural setting, there’s an easy answer: magic.

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez’s Locke and Key, as well as James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera‘s Something is Killing the Children solve this problem with great ease. Grown-ups just can’t comprehend the magical danger surrounding them. In Locke and Key, adults are able to see and experience magic; they just can’t remember it afterwards. In Something is Killing the Children, adults aren’t able to see the monsters, though they are certainly able to witness the carnage they inflict.

Of course, through various means the young ones are able to draw adults into their battles. They mainly do this to keep the story going and move the plot along in new and interesting directions. But as a whole, this plot device is an extremely convenient tool of storytelling. Kids are able to go on adventures simply because adults can’t comprehend it. On the one hand, it might come off as lazy writing. On the other, it adds an element of whimsical fantasy to these dangerous and often horrific tales. Which is a matter of opinion. But as long as kids continue to have minds that out-imagine their parents, I don’t think stories like this will go away anytime soon.

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