"Twisted Dark: Volume Three" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by T Publications
Written by Neil Gibson
Illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard, Jan Wijngaard, Jake Ayres, Jake Elphick, Seb Antoniou, Leonardo Gonzalez, Hugo Wijngaard, and Atula Siriwardane
2012, 195 Pages
Graphic Novel published on April 23rd, 2012
Neil Gibson returns with another batch of Twisted Dark stories. He explains in the introduction to this volume that after receiving some feedback, he's going back to his roots of writing the stories that he wants to write and not worrying about pleasing everyone. This makes total sense as I thought the second volume was much tamer than the initial collection. Obviously, no piece of work is going to appeal to everyone, but there's a core audience that Twisted Dark satisfies and Gibson returning to form with some spookier or downright disturbing tales is definitely a good thing.
Volume Three contains a total of eleven comics. As with previous collections, each one is presented in black and white. The connections between the stories are more evident this time around. Some are blatantly obvious, but others have subtle nods to pieces that appeared in other books. It's one thing to read a messed up story but to understand that all these weird and horrible things are happening in the same world -- and in some cases, the same people -- is crazy.
There are certainly highs and lows throughout this volume, but the good stories far outweigh the mediocre. There are two that really stood out. Peace and Quiet, illustrated by Atula Siriwardane, tells the story of a charming man, his wife, and their autistic daughter. The girl is trapped in a world of silence, terrified of noise. Then one day her father just won't stop snoring...louder and louder until she can't take it anymore. The act in the story is horrifying enough, but the twist ending is one that hits you right in the gut. It made me want to go back and immediately read it again, which is always a good sign. Siriwardane's artwork lulled me into this false sense of security. There is a classic look to the pencils that make the characters easy to relate to, like they're old friends. It makes the outcome of Peace and Quiet all the more devastating.
The other tale that popped was Career Choice with art by Leonardo Gonzalez. What struck me wasn't the idea that a professional hit man was telling a story to his soon-to-be victim. It was the way that Gibson so deftly described the terror a child feels when he's alone in his dark bedroom. The flashback shows a family arriving home after a trip to find their front door slightly ajar. A walkthrough the house found nothing disturbed and no one inside, but the young boy is convinced the intruder is hiding in his closet. Just recounting the story is giving me chills because home invasion is right up there with my top fears (along with vegetables and somehow losing all of my fingernails). Gonzalez's art has a simple quality to it, but what sealed the deal was the panel layout. The borders tend to spill into the actual image, making it seem like the characters are slowly being suffocated as the story goes on. This worked perfectly to amp up the terror.
The only comic that I wasn't really a fan of was The Bid, drawn by Hugo Wijngaard. It's here that a group of hoity-toity snobs discuss dismantling the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal. The surprise ending was something that I saw coming and it didn't feel like much of a twist at all. Wijngaard's artwork is very flat, giving the characters little to no form. Instead they look almost like they were drawn and then cut out like paper dolls and assembled in each panel.
Honestly, that's my only real issue with this entire volume. The other ten stories easily fit under the heading of Twisted Dark. Other notable comics are Perfection and Lifeboat, but again, they're all pretty good. Gibson also includes links to more information for some of the facts or quotes he uses at the onset of each tale to give you further insights -- or proof -- of the basis of the story. If you have any inkling of a dark sense of humor, Twisted Dark is well worth your time. Gibson is perfecting the art of the surprise ending. Suck it, M. Night Shyamalan.