Those of you who have been around this Web site for a while may remember my Conversation with Neil Gibson in the wake of Dragon*Con 2013. In the interview we talked about his work on the Twisted Dark series, and some of the other stuff that T Publications is putting out there. (You may recall my confession that after purchasing the first volume on the first day of the Con, I then went back the next day and bought the other two in the series).
I was stoked to read that Twisted Dark Volume Four was finally out, and was available for purchase from their Facebook store. I ordered my copy, and then settled in for the long wait for it to arrive from the UK. As I waited, my mind got busy with other things, to the point that yesterday, when I saw a package with a British return address, I couldn’t remember what it was. Ripping open the package, I sat down and immediately started to read.
Volume Four was worth the wait, and more! There are nine short stories in here, some of which reference past stories, some of which introduce us to new characters for the first time. Gibson retains his unique brand of “O’Henry meets The Twilight Zone (or, Tales From the Crypt)” comic book genius. The book itself is extremely high quality, and the production value is, as always, quite high.
As Gibson notes in his preface, not every story contains a twist. Some have no twist. Some contain a twist in the second of two short stories. And in some, such as “The Babysitter,” the unexpected happens earlier, and we are invited to experience the extreme discomfort that comes after some disgusting secret is revealed.
Not every story is as subtle as some of Gibson’s earlier efforts. There is less of the sly wink of an ending, and more of the slow reveal. For example, the story “Punishment,” the reader begins to feel distaste and finally full-blwon revulsion for a character who, in any other hands, should have earned our pity, a theme Gibson returns to often.
I was reading so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to linger over the art (a common weakness of mine when I’m reading comics.) The graphics are clean, powerful, and draw our eye to exactly the right thing at the right moment. Reading it again, I enjoyed noticing the little details that get snuck in there to tip off the careful reader.
All of the things that I enjoyed about Twisted Dark 1-3 are here, as well as some different themes and approaches, as noted above. I was reading, thinking to myself, hmm… I like this different take that Neil is presenting.
And then comes “Little Piggy,” and you realize with growing horror, that here is Neil Gibson, in full form, taking his work to a whole new level.
These words and images will stay with you after you close the cover. They are not for the faint of heart. I am going to sit patiently, maybe feeling a little ill—maybe feeling a little like eating a vegetarian diet for a few weeks—and wait impatiently for Volume Five.