Written by: Gary M. Kenny, CC2K Comics Editor
Neil Gibson loves short stories and loves comic books. Neil, not knowing how to get into the comic business, started doing what many modern writers have done. Neil started to self publish. He wrote the script and hired (on his own dime) the artists. This massive collection of stories featuring various artists is entitled Twisted Dark: Volume 1. Similar to Local or Demo by Brian Wood, each story is a one shot and features a messed up story with a dark twisted ending. Since the “anthology” is quite large and each story is too vast with differences, I’ve decided to break up the review into separate articles.
Writer: Neil Gibson
Artists: Atula Siriwardane (Suicide) and Caspar Wijngaard (Routine)
The problem with reviewing one shot stories is that it’s hard to keep them spoiler free. Based off the fact that every detail is important, the ending of a short story could make or break the piece. So this review will NOT be SPOILER FREE.
Let’s begin with the story entitled: Suicide. It’s a small piece, almost micro fiction, only four pages long. The artwork is mostly of hands, a computer screen, and close ups of different parts of a girl’s body. I can’t really get a clear idea of how much talent Atula Siriwardane has except by the final page. The ending image is a disturbing one and sadly the most recognizable, before i go into detail, let’s talk about the tale. The story follows a girl named Becky, she is contemplating suicide. Instead of a letter, she’s writing anomalously in an online chat room.
“I have been unhappy with my weight and appearance for a while. Also.. I have a bumpy nose. I don’t know. I don’t care. I just want it all to end.”
You catch the drift. It’s not hard to relate and with technology more a part of lives (especially in the last 20 years) most people feel more comfortable talking to strangers in chat rooms then to seek actual professional help. The ending is a simple (I guess twisted) one. Becky is only 10 years old. This story was written in 2011-13 (unsure since I’ve only read it in this graphic novel published in 2013), with so many suicides involving cyber bullying and school shootings. It’s not unheard of of a child being suicidal. Back a few years ago, this ending might have caught me off guard but now… it’s just sad. The final page is a picture of a little girl sucking her thumb and the backdrop of her room, full of dolls and what not. The Twisted Dark tales have one thing in common: the last page is a profile shot. It’s the hero/villain looking at the reader after all their (dark or twisted) intentions are known. Very Twilight Zone and that’s usually the best part of the story.
The second story in Twisted Dark: Volume 1 is entitled: Routine. It’s the story of a hermit drunk and his young adventurous son. The drunk named Asbjorn loved his life. He lived in the woods, away from people, his son was a good lad who go hunting for birds with his dog in the wilderness. They would do this each day as long as his son didn’t have school. While Asbjorn’s son was out hunting, he would be at his typewriter making up stories. To Asbjorn this was the life. The only problems he had (in which he was ashamed) was when he drank. When he drank there would be arguments with his young son. All of them ending with either his belt or his son running off into the woods. The arch of the story is when Koll (the son) tells his dad, that he is off to the woods to hunt birds aka the “routine.” While writing Asbjorn hears two gun shots. Figuring that his son missed the first attempt at a bird he took a second shot. Hours go by and Koll didn’t return home. Asbjorn enters the woods and searches. He finds his son, apologetic by an old twisted tree. “I tried all day Dad, but i couldn’t find any birds.” They hug and walk back to their home. The end… except after a black page. “Asbjorn walked the long journey back to his cabin in a hallucinatory daze.” The real ending was that his son shot the dog and then took his own life. Koll is now far away where his drunken father can’t hurt him. It’s a fun ending and the story is strong enough to keep it. While I’m not fully invested in the script i do believe that the artwork really pushed the story into achievement.
Caspar Wijngaard’s artwork in Routine is terrific. It reminds me of Becky Cloonan, it’s probably the reason I feel that Twisted Dark is similar to the comics Demo and Local. His work plays with shadows using only white. He captures the mannerisms of all his characters and that helps connect the reader to the story. The final page is that of a rotting skeleton at rest on a twisted tree. It’s creepy yet fun like an Alkaline Trio song. Would love to see more of him in this business.
These aren’t the strongest tales of Volume 1 of Twisted Dark. However these are the first two in the book. As i read the various other stories I did find the fun in the darkness. Neil Gibson does achieve some great little tales and he’s on the verge of something wonderful. There will be more to come.
Suicide: 2.0 out of 5.0
Routine: 3.5 out of 5.0
Twisted Dark: Volume One: 3.0 out of 5.0
Gary is a husband, father, fireman, comic reader, gamer, body builder, and rocker. He also is a co-owner of a bakery in upstate NY. He likes to tell everyone his favorite band is the Beatles, when his actual favorite band is the Alkaline Trio.