Black and White
Written by Neil Gibson
Illustrated by Atula Siriwardane, Caspar Wijingaard, Heru Prasetyo Djalal, Jan Wijingaard, Ant Mercer and Dan West.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about T-Pub long before its representatives Neil Gibson (writer) and Will O’ Mullane set foot in Malta for the Malta Comic Convention 2013. So on Sunday morning of the said convention I went to their stand to buy Volume 1 of Twisted Dark, but to my surprise, by then they had already sold out. So when I decided to head to London Super Comic Con 2014 I knew that this was one book I simply had to get even though I was already overweight leaving Malta (my luggage that is, cause as my friends love to point out I’m permanently so). Since everybody who has managed to get a copy of this book in Malta had told me how good it was, I decided to read it on the plane home. I must admit all the high praise the book received did allow me to proceed with a sense of trepidation but these concerns vanished as soon as I started reading and I’m glad to say that in the end it more than lived up to its reputation.
Twisted Dark is essentially a collection of interconnected psychological thriller strips of varying length, written by Neil Gibson and illustrated by a variety of talented artists, which as the name implies contain a dark twist in the end. This reminded me of Jeffery Deaver’s similarly titled collection of short stories; Twisted and like Deaver, Gibson is an accomplished writer who delivers the kind of explosive endings that leaves the reader positively gobsmacked. What’s most impressive here is that there are no fillers and all 12 stories on offer are an awesome read. Some are perhaps slightly less effective than others but that in itself is testament to how supremely effective some of them are. Gibson is a master story teller and his narrative verges on the hypnotic in that it easily sucks you in and gracefully and flowingly leads you to the intense finale, which more often than not is completely unexpected.
Although the theme is consistent the stories are varied enough to keep things fresh and interesting. This is aided by the fact that the stories are located in different continents and are also drawn by different illustrators each of whom bring his unique and distinct style into the fore. All the characters that headline these stories are well crafted, and all the stories deal with humane issues that everyone can in someway identify with. But perhaps the most notable thing about this collection is the ease in which Gibson explores deep, complex and thought provoking issues without ever appearing like he is doing so. All this issues are cleverly explored through the characters but the way the stories are written ensure that the focus remains to entertain. Something which I feel is severely lacking in the majority of contemporary media.
Whilst taking nothing away from Gibson’s craft, a word of praise must also go to all the illustrators that contributed to this collection. Their sense of style and panelling play in perfect synergy with Gibson’s writing and help bring each strip to life. All the artists give a sense of identity to each story but the artwork is never over-imposing. Despite the mixture of styles and some styles are as diverse as one can possibly imagine (from Atula’s pragmatic technique, to Caspar’s brutal and twisted shading to Heru’s clean and refined linework) the strips still manage to blend in harmoniously. Each style also matches the content of the story effectively well. All these illustrators are certainly worth keeping an eye on, but I personally found the work of Caspar Wijingaard and Heru Prasetyo Djalal most impressive.
Whether you’re a fan of the genre or simply looking for an entertaining read, the sheer quality on offer here ensures that you can’t go wrong with this one. Inspirational! The fact that I can’t wait to get my hands on the other Twisted Dark volumes is possibly the most adequate recommendation I can give.
Reviewed for Wicked Comics by
Chris Le Galle
For more information on T-Pub and their impressive publications kindly visit: http://www.neilgibsoncomics.com
If you happen to be in a comic convention where T-Pub are exhibiting make sure to visit their stand. Besides the fact that these are genuinely nice folk, there’s always a good buzz surrounding their stall.