Comic Shots #3 with Chris Neseman: Bloody Mary and ‘Locke and Key’

July 31, 2008

Each week Chris Neseman drops by to pass along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.


This week is all about getting more than you expected. Isn’t that one of the best feelings in life, getting more than you expected? I love it when life drops an unexpected bonus on you. It happened to me back in my college years at a bar called The Cellar in Carbondale, Illinois. I was there with a group of friends before a football game and I decided to order a Bloody Mary. Little did I know that The Cellar was known for their Bloody Marys, and I was in for a treat. Most of the time when you order a Bloody Mary at a bar you get a glass filled with store bought mix, cheap vodka, a few ice cubes and if you’re lucky a stick of celery that isn’t yellow with age. The Cellar offers up a meal in a glass that was not only delicious, but a sight to behold. Their version is a made from scratch mix with premium vodka and a cornucopia of ingredients including olives, cheese, sausage, dill pickle spear… and love. I would return to The Cellar almost every week after I discovered quite possible the greatest Bloody Mary in the world, but I could never get them to spill the beans on the recipe for the mix. I’ve tried for years to duplicate it, and this is the closest I’ve been able to come.

I present to you, the Cellar inspired, meal in a glass, Neseman variation:

Bloody Mary
• Vodka (James Bond is a Smirnoff man and so am I)
• V8 vegetable juice
• Worcestershire sauce
• Juice of 1 lemon wedge
• Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce
• Hot Salt (for rim)
• Sea salt
• Fresh ground black pepper
• celery salt
• 3 green olives
• 1 cube each of swiss and cheddar cheese
• dill pickle spear
• 2 hunks (3/8 inch) of summer sausage

Use a big glass for this one. A pint glass can work in a pinch, but I like my Bloody Marys on a larger scale. Rim the glass with some bar salt, or Hot Salt if you have it. Fill the glass about 3/4 of the way with ice. After you add the vodka the real fun can begin. Start adding your spices. A couple shakes of Worcestershire, squeeze a fresh lemon wedge, 2-5 shakes of Tabasco and a pinch of salt. Once you’re done spicing things up you can add the V8 and fill up the glass to about an inch from the top. Stir well, and add a twist or two of fresh pepper and a couple shakes of celery salt. Now drop in a dill pickle spear and get your skewer made. Load the skewer up in this order: Sausage-Olive-Cheese-Olive-Cheese-Olive-Sausage. Place the skewer in the glass and then, just take a second to look at it before you take a sip.

MMMMmmmmm good.

A good Bloody Mary is different for everyone. There’s probably no other drink in the world with more variations than a Bloody Mary because everyone likes theirs a little different. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to change this recipe to suit your tastes. Add a little more spice, or switch out your garnishes with whatever you enjoy. I really like some pickled okra, but hell, put anchovies in it if that floats your boat! When you find that perfect blend of flavors you’ll know it. After you do, you can spend some quite time enjoying your Bloody and reading…


Locke & Key
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins

Locke & Key is far and away my favorite new series of 2008, as a matter of fact, it’s my favorite comic currently being published. I know that’s a pretty heavy statement that smacks of hyperbole, but it’s the truth. There is no other series that I’ve enjoyed more, or look forward to reading more than Locke & Key. For me, it’s a great example of the little treasures that your local comic shop owner can suggest to you. It took Mark Beatty, the owner of Dark Tower Comics to twist my arm into picking this up. I am in his debt for doing so, because this series has given me hours of enjoyment. It’s reaffirmed that sometimes the best comics are the ones that you least expect to read and never hear about. Well, to be fair, there was some pre-release buzz on the book because it’s written by Joe Hill, a popular and acclaimed writer on his own, but also known as Stephen King’s son. Joe Hill is the latest in a line of novelists stepping from prose into the world of comics writing. And he’s pulled it off better than most, maybe better than any of them. Hill seems to have a rock solid grasp on what makes a 22 page comic work, and the craft of his comic book storytelling continues to amaze me with each issue.

Locke & Key, from the very first issues has been pretty damn close to a perfect comic book. Gabriel Rodriguez’s art and the superb coloring by Jay Fotos elevate the writing into the complete graphic storytelling package. Rodriguez’s art is crisp and expressive with every line having purpose. The detail given to each panel is often breathtaking, especially because there have been no shortcuts taken in the backgrounds. Background art is difficult and time consuming, and it’s refreshing to see so much effort put into both the interior and exterior settings. Rodriguez’s visual storytelling keeps the reader moving from panel to panel with ease and absolutely no confusion. That’s not to say the page design and panel layout isn’t interesting, because it is, but it always serves the story first. The mention of Jay Fotos and the coloring of the book is equally important. Rodriguez’s art and the tone of the book could easily be thrown off with over rendered and heavy handed colors. Fotos nails each scene with varied pallets that convey exactly what they should. Very few modern day computer colorists have the subtle sense of atmosphere shown in these pages. From plot to script to art this is as solid a book you can find on the comic shelves. I’ve actually tried to find things I don’t like about Locke & Key to no avail. I can’t even find flaws in the paper stock which is high quality. Like I said at the beginning, it sounds like hyperbole, but I’m really that high on this book.

As good as Locke & Key is, I understand that it may not be for everyone. This is a high suspense thriller with a fair amount of the supernatural thrown in to make it really creepy. This isn’t the blood and gore horror of a Saw or Hostel, this is an edge of your seat, don’t go around that corner, LOOK BEHIND YOU!, kind of thriller. Hill has taken all the traits of a good suspense novel or movie and moved it to the comics page. The horror is often subtle, and the strength of the series is the affection and honest concern you develop for the characters. The key to any good suspense story is that you really need to care about the people in danger. Those people, the Lockes, are an everyday California family who have just gone through the worst day of their lives. Locke & Key follows them through the aftermath of that day and their move across the country to Lovecraft, Massachusetts. This is the beginning of a new life and an attempt to leave tragedy behind. The only problem is that their ancestral home in Lovecraft, called Keyhouse, holds some supernatural secrets and evil forces determined to keep the wounds of their past open. There is individual triumph as the Locke children learn to cope with their tragedy and put the pieces of their lives back together, but the scars of the past won’t fade anytime soon. As each member of the family begins to discover that there is more than meets the eye to Keyhouse, the danger from their past is coming back to finish what was started in California. This is a story were events are connected and the real threat to the Locke family may not be revealed for some time. The enjoyment of watching all of this unfold and getting to know and care about the cast has been a fantastic comic book experience.

It was just announced in San Diego that we will be seeing more Locke & Key in the future, and that is good news indeed. Joe Hill is already an accomplished writer, and it’s great to see him bring those skills to comics. Gabriel Rodriguez and Jay Fotos are perfectly matched, and rival any art team in comics today. Combined they have created a series that should find its way onto the shelves of any comics fan looking for something a little different from the mainstream of capes and cowls.


I hope you enjoy this week’s drink and comic book recommendation. Spreading the word about things we enjoy is easy, and Locke & Key reaffirmed for me that the next great comic may just be a suggestion away. Just like that original Bloody Mary from The Cellar, Locke & Key gave me way more than I expected, and I hope it does the same for you (not that I’ve raised those expectations…). Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back next week for another round of Comic Shots.


Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy only the amount of comics that you can till your wife or significant other threatens to throw things away.


  1. I don’t know what it is, and believe me I’ve tried, but I just can’t stand Bloody Marys.  But Locke and Key…that is something I may be able to tolerate.

  2. Nice match up Mr. Neeseman.  You have me so hyped up for this book that you have put the trade (when it happens) on my radar.


     In regards to your thoughts on Bloody Mary I have been a long proponent that if your mixing vodka in different drinks the vodka you choose DOES matter (I hate when people state that it is "diluted" so it doesn’t matter).  If you have the opportunity to line up 5 different brands of vodka and take a sip of each, pure and virgin, you’ll see that each one has it’s own unique flavor and dignity on the palate.  In turn each one enhances a mixed drink in their own special way.


    the Tiki 

  3. Well that’s just great, now I have to sit here at work thinking about drinking a bloody mary all day. Oh sweet, sweet 5:30 why are you so far away.


    Chris you are the third person to bring up Locke & Key this month. By cosmic law I have to check it out.

  4. What’s funny is that I normally don’t like vodka and rarely drink it. The last two weeks I’ve done vodka drinks. I’m a bourbon drinker and that’s what I have 90% of the time. This column is making me expand my own drink selections, and I’m building up one hell of a home bar along the way. 🙂

    As far a Locke & Key goes, I can’t reinforce how much I love this series. When you find something like this that stands out as being far and away the best thing you read is just gets you excited. 

  5. I will definitely be reading this book at some point.  Probably when a nice HC hits the shelves.

  6. Some people’s palettes aren’t that keen. Mine, for instance, has only successfully distinguished Ketel One from other vodkas. Ultimately, though, I’m a rum drinker. White, perferably.

    Also, IMO, a savory beverage is called soup. 🙂


  7. LOL… i agree with the Soup Comment…the same goes for any drink with Milk in it a la White Russians and so forth.

    Locke & Key is one of those great discovery books…it’s getting more and more spotlight and deservedly so…the buzz reminds me of 30 Days of Night several years ago. This book is being optioned too, is it not?

  8. I liked 30 Days (there’s actually a nice easter egg for it in issue 6 of L&K), but this series blows it away.

    I believe there was an option deal before this before it was even published. 

  9. Well done my friend. I am loving this feature, and yes, I drink too much. Just bought a liquor cabinet to bless my Brooklyn apartment and been looking for a dependable BM recipe. Boom, now this. How many counts of vodka do you put in?

    My favorite drink? No recipe needed for this smooth sensation:


  10. Sigh…one more book to add to my to-read list. Being a horror fans, it sounds right up my alley.

  11. I’m pre-ordering the hardcover of Locke & Key – can’t wait!

  12. Hey Cleophus-

    I usually eyeball my counts. All depends on how rough of a day I’ve had…

    On a Bloody Mary in a big ole glass I’ll usually fill the glass 3/4 with ice, and then fill it a little less than half way, so without ice it’s about a quarter vodka.

    I also forgot to include that I like a little minced garlic… 

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:


    Any plans to do any comic/entree pairings in the future?  I haven’t had a mixed drink since the time I woke up in a convent, rolled up in a Twister mat.   

  14. Ha!

    I don’t think we’ll see any food pairings for a little while. Maybe when I exhaust the several thousand cocktails out there I can start a weekly column called "Comic Bites". —trademark Chris Neseman 2008— 

  15. Many thanks Chris! I’m an Around Comics fan too just to let you know. I can’t wait to illicit a hangover Saturday night so that I can spice up a BM cure all Sunday morning. Good stuff.

  16. wow, that’s elaborate. when you ordered it, did you say, "I’ll take a bloody mary and three drinks for me to drink while your team is preparing the bloody mary"? I don’t take that much care with dinner.

    It’s amazing to me that I can spend so much time and money in comics shops and yet never, ever hear of books like this. I swear I don’t just beeline to the Skrull section. 

  17. Damn it Neseman, my money can go to comics, or booze. We’re not all rolling in the moneies! Why must you tempt me!?

  18. I prefer the Canadian version, or "Ceasar"  It’s got Clam juice!