[Indie Spotlight] ‘Twisted Dark’ Vol. 1

twisted dark2

Twisted Dark Vol.1 is a collection of 13 mind-warped short comic stories from Neil Gibson and a slew of artists. Most of the stories come with surprising twist endings, that are rather refreshing. This is a collection of compelling tales that ranges from crime to horror to sci-fi. Genuinely surprising, the storytelling is quite unpredictable and the various styles of artwork capture the morbid nature.

WRITTEN BY: Neil Gibson
ART BY: Atula Siriwardane, Caspar Wijngaard, Heru Prasetyo Djalal, Jan Wijngaard, Ant Mercer, Olga-Mia Gots, Dan West
PUBLISHER: T Publication
PRICE: $12.99
RELEASE: January 11, 2012

The first tale, “Suicide,” sets the serious and dark tone of the collection. In “Windopayne,” a wealthy businessman waits for his invention to start a never-ending massacre. “Cocaína” follows a low-level drug dealer as he rises through the ranks of a criminal organization. But is he willing to give up the rich lifestyle to marry a crime lord’s daughter? In “Blame,” a vicious killer is contemplating about forgiveness as he is about to slit his victim’s throat. Each of the 13 tales share a common theme about the worst in human nature and its unrestrained cruelty.

What I really enjoyed about Neil Gibson’s writing is his emphasis on characterization. In the suspenseful tale, “Routine,” a father is patiently waiting for his son to return from his hunting trip. Gibson builds the anticipation as the father wonders if his son accidentally shot himself or someone else. Then, the father is revealed to be an angry and abusive drunk, who doesn’t remember what was the last thing he said to his son. As Gibson develops this remorseful protagonist, he ends the story on a major shocker.

Just when you think you know where the story is headed, Gibson pulls out the rug from under the reader. Because they are never formulaic, the plot twists change everything you thought you knew about the main character. Even without a last-minute surprise, the story always hits the right nerve. In “The Pushman,” a disgruntled employee remembers the events that led to him being a failure in life. You’re never quite sure if he is going to snap, or if he is just having a bad day at work.

The suspenseful atmosphere in “Routine” works because of Caspar Wijngaard’s scratchy illustrations. The trees and mountains aren’t fully formed because they represent the protagonist’s shattered mind-state. Ant Mercer captures the unhinged mind of a lunatic in “The Game…” Through close-ups and hairstyle, Mercer provides an eerie depiction of a madman who thinks he is a contestant on a reality TV show.

My favorite amongst Jan Wijngaard’s illustrations are in “The Pushman” and “Windopayne.” Wijngaard’s artwork in “The Pushman” is heavily influenced by Japanese Manga, especially with his abstract backgrounds. Notice how the buildings in the panels have a distinguishing pattern. In the sci-fi tale, “Windopayne,” instead of looking out the window, the viewer selects the image they want to see. In wide shots, Wijngaard focuses on the details of the foreign countries so that reader feels like they are traveling.

“Twisted Dark Vol.1″ contains a collection of bleak tales that will indeed shock its readers. You can pick up a copy here.

4/5 – Skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis