Whilst the staple part of my comic diet consists of DC, Marvel, and Image titles, there is nothing better than coming across a gem of a title like this.
Twisted Dark came my way after visiting MCM Expo at London in October last year where the writer, Neil Gibson, was signing all three volumes of the series. It is with much annoyance that it has taken me nearly three months to make a start due to a ridiculous backlog of titles. All my fault I suppose!
Onto the comic.
Twisted Dark is a collection of short comic tales, each one focused on the darker side of the human psyche, ranging from a father suffering hallucinations over a lost son to a mental patient convinced he is part of a reality TV show. Whilst these all start as separate tales here in Volume 1, there is the promise there will be later connections in future releases. To date, three volumes have been released under T Publications with at least five mentioned by Gibson in a MCM Buzz interview late last year.
As is probably evident by the comic’s title, this is not to be read if on a search for the more uplifting aspects of human behaviour. It pulls no punches as it features individuals forced to the fringes of society, each tale created to make the reader contemplate the open-ended conclusions. There is very much a global feel to what is being created here as locations include Tokyo, Colombia, Dubai, and Norway, possibly suggesting the darker side of human behaviour is not confined to any particular region but something that is not too far from all of us.
This is where Twisted Dark really hits home for me, the ability to highlight emotions that are likely to relate, to some extent, to readers. Whilst the characters take their darkness to the extreme, traits such as attention seeking, resentment over a failed childhood, trauma over a loss in the family, a young girl’s insecurity over her looks, and achieving success through illegitimate means are common throughout society so these are not cardboard cut-out villains here. Somewhere, deep down there lurking, is a little bit of them in all of us.
Whilst most stories follow a similar path in that all is not revealed until the final few pages, it manages to avoid becoming repetitive, at least at this stage, due to the individual style of each tale. If the tales are to somehow connect in future volumes, it will be interesting to see if the stories maintain their current structure or take a different form as they progress.
Another method by Gibson in giving each story its own identity is in the use of several artists throughout the volume. Whilst the book maintains a similar twisted mentality, the differing art styles results in each tale standing on its own. In particular, the tale ‘Routine’, based in Norway, picturing the bleak, empty life of Asbjorn and his son is emphasised beautifully by Caspar Wijngaard.
In short, you should read this book. Yes, it is bleak and offers little in way of hope for the characters but in no way is it gratuitous or excessive in its depictions of human depravity. It is truly compelling due to how grounded it all seems. Of all 11 stories, only one, ‘Windopayne’ , has a somewhat grandiose revelation but, even then, does not detract from the story.
For more information on Twisted Dark and comics by Neil Gibson, go to www.neilgibsoncomics.com.