COMIC BOOK REVIEW: TWISTED DARK / AUTHOR: NEIL GIBSON / ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: T PUBLICATIONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
As Twisted Dark’s writer/creator Neil Gibson explains in his foreword to Volume One, this collection of tightly written, finely illustrated, not-a-loser-in-the-whole-bunch graphic tales is not an anthology. Anthologies are usually composed of completely independent standalone pieces that are generally arranged around a single theme, but Twisted Dark has a much more ambitious and complicated arc: although Gibson’s stories are self-contained, their characters often reappear in later episodes and not always as the main protagonist. One of the many joys of this (to date) three volume series lies in spotting familiar faces, joining up the narrative dots, and immersing yourself in a work of incredibly potent imagination.
But Gibson doesn’t accomplish this all on his own. Each of the stories is illustrated by a different artist (we won’t name them all here, not only through lack of space but because it would be a crime to miss anybody out, they all do such extraordinary work) and each artist adds their own, very special spin to Gibson’s words. Much of the artwork is genuinely quite beautiful.
So what does Twisted Dark mean? According to its creator it is both “a story with a sinister undertone, featuring characters that deviate from socially acceptable standards” and “an unusual smile that conveys several emotions, usually of a morbid nature” (that smile appears frequently throughout the series). The stories themselves have incredible range: there are ghosts, drug runners, terrorists, psychopaths, paranoiacs and killer insects, razor-sharp social and political commentary and impressive grand guignol, all realistically set in different locations across the world which gives Twisted Dark a genuine sense of gothic multiculturalism.
Of the three published volumes, this particular writer’s favourites are Volume One and Volume Three; the stories in these editions are the darkest of the bunch but with plenty of variation between them - they’re intriguing, immersing, fascinating and highly cinematic with some great twists-in-the-tale. As for Volume Two, it’s still a fantastic read but – as Gibson admits in his introduction – he took on-board some readers opinions about the first volume and tried to make the stories a little lighter. It works in its own way, and it’s refreshing to know that Gibson genuinely appreciates his audience and will listen to what they want, but we missed the nastiness of Volume One and was glad to see it return in the third collection.
We can’t recommend Twisted Dark highly enough. It is genius.
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