Joseph Hillstrom King (born June 4, 1972), better known by the pen name Joe Hill, is an American author and comic book writer. He has published two novels – Heart Shaped Box and Horns, and a collection of short stories entitled 20th Century Ghosts. He is also the author of the excellent comic book series Locke & Key. Hill’s parents are authors Stephen and Tabitha King.
At age 9, Hill appeared in the 1982 film Creepshow, directed by George A. Romero, which co-starred and was written by his father.
Hill chose to use an abbreviated form of his given name (a reference to executed labor leader Joe Hill, for whom he was named) in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of Stephen King. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007 after an article the previous year in Variety broke his cover.
Hill’s first book, the limited edition collection 20th Century Ghosts (published in 2005 by PS Printing), showcases fourteen of his short stories and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, together with the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story for “Best New Horror”.
When he began writing, King was well-aware of the inevitable comparisons that would arise between his own work and that of his father, Stephen, the world’s best-selling and, arguably, most-recognized living novelist. Stephen King had himself used a pen-name, Richard Bachman, after he had become well-established, explaining later in the short essay, “Why I was Bachman” that he felt he had to know whether he could “re-achieve” success as an author purely through the quality of his writing, as opposed to what perceived as the “brand” that had become established through his own name. Joseph King chose to take the same approach; although many readers (and most reviewers) are now aware of the connection, his fiction has been widely praised, and a number of critics have stressed their own objectivity and lack of preconceptions when reviewing his works.
Hill’s first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, was published in the U.S. on February 13, 2007 and in the UK in March 2007. The novel reached number 8 on the New York Times bestseller list on April 1, 2007. Hill’s second novel, Horns, was released on February 16, 2010.
Hill is also the author of Locke & Key, a comic book series published by IDW Publishing. The first issue, released on February 20, 2008, sold out of its initial publication run in one day. A collection of the series in limited form from Subterranean Press sold out within 24 hours of being announced.
The narrative of Locke & Key is structured in three acts, with each act consisting of two six-issue storylines. Act One’s first story arc, Welcome To Lovecraft, was a six-issue limited series. The first issue of Welcome To Lovecraft sold out in a single day, requiring a second printing to be done immediately. The second arc of Act One, entitled Head Games, commenced with the release of the first issue on January 22, 2009. The actual Head Games story was printed in four issues, with a standalone prologue (“Intermission” or “The Joe Ridgeway Story”) and a standalone conclusion (“Army Of One”).
Act Two of the Locke & Key story consists of two limited, six-issue miniseries; the first storyline of Act Two, Crown of Shadows, began in the fall of 2009. The second storyline, Keys to the Kingdom, began in August 2010. The first storyline of Act Three was initially announced as Time & Tide, but is now titled Clockworks; this series has just completed it’s six-part series on May 16th, 2012.