Twisted Dark Review

By | Thursday, June 13, 2013 Leave a Comment
I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started Twisted Dark, the anthology book by Neil Gibson. (Full disclosure: I was provided with a comp copy.) I talked to him a bit at C2E2 and got a really positive vibe from him, but he's a relative newcomer to writing comics, so there's always a bit of a gamble in that. But either because or in spite of that, I was impressed.

The book consists of tweleve stand-alone stories of varying lengths. The stories also range from small, intimate moments to coups on a national scale. There are eleven artists who worked with Gibson on the pieces, and their styles also vary considerably. And though I didn't recognize any of their names offhand, they all seemed to be good storytellers as well as illustrators.

Thematically, the stories all tie together by examining some of the darker sides of humanity. Not necessarily the full depths of human depravity (though there is a bit of that), but those dark corners where people contemplate suicide or take a small sense of pleasure in others' misfortune. That the stories all have something of a twist to their conclusion is where the book's title is derived from.

Now the danger of using the twist ending is that they can become hackneyed really quickly. Less skilled writers will inadvertently telegraph the twist well in advance, making the actual twist itself completely expected. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of what makes the twist work. What surprised me in Twisted Dark was that, even knowing that a twist of some kind was coming, the specific nature of the twist and when it occurred still came as a surprise (to me, at least). Gibson smartly did not rely on the same handful of gimmicks to get to the conclusion of each story, but seemed to go about it a different way each time. It was harder to see where the stories were going, and it was only when the twist was revealed that you realized you'd come to the conclusion. With a dozen different stories, presented in a way which invites reading them in close succession, this is impressive.

When I talked to Gibson, he noted that he basically had had a day job, and finally decided that in order to break into comics, he'd have to just quit and devote his full time and energy to it. If I recall correctly ,his first convention here in the States was Boston -- which was obviously cancelled due to the marathon bombing. But Gibson stood out on the street corner and gave away the books he brought with him. At C2E2, he surprised me a bit by having a good-sized booth towards the front of the show floor, instead of the more typical table at the Artists' Alley in the back.

He's definitely putting his money where his mouth is, and he's got the writing chops to back himself up! I'll be keeping my eye out for other work of his in the future. Twisted Dark retails for $12.99.
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