By: Nicole D’Andria
Today we have a twisted collection of science-fiction stories in The Theory—a spin-off of the cult hit Twisted Dark. I interviewed writers and part of the art team for the comic series, which hearkens back to The Twilight Zone and constructs a Black Mirror vibe.
The Theory is a collection of three interconnected and thrilling sci-fi plots with twist endings. In one plot we follow astroarchaeologist Linda, whose job involves finding dead civilizations and learning from them so humankind can avoid extinction. In the second plot, we follow a time travelling group with Jemm-r, whose mission involves making minor alterations to past events in history to reduce human suffering. And the third plot is left as a vague mystery to avoid spoilers!
The series is created and written primarily by Neil Gibson with a rotating team of artists, including Cem Iroz, Phil Buckenham, Atula Siriwardane and Jim Terry. The entire book is coloured by Liezl Buenaventura and lettered by Justin Birch. Forrest C. Helvie and David Court also created and co-wrote stories in the collection with Neil Gibson.
The goal of The Theory Kickstarter is to raise $13,127 by November 24, 2018 at 10:53 AM EST. Reward tiers include a digital ($13) and physical ($33) copy of The Theory, which includes 10 stories as well as bonus content and artwork to be sent to your email. You can check out the rest of the rewards on the official Kickstarter page. And if you want to get a feel for the actual comic, you can read it on Webtoons.
I talked in-depth with Neil about his twisted series as well as with Forrest regarding their “Pandora” story.
Me: This is a spin-off from the Twisted Dark series. What can you tell us about that comic and how The Theory relates to it?
Gibson: Twisted Dark is our biggest seller and has been compared to Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone and Stephen King. If you like happy stories with rainbows and puppies, I don’t recommend reading it! But if you like stories that make you think and that you want to re-read, then perhaps give it a shot. The Theory is connected to Twisted Dark but is set in the future and all the stories have a sci-fi element to them. A sort of Star Trek meets Black Mirror, if you will.
Helvie: I know that I first encountered the Twisted Dark series when I reviewed comics online years ago, and it was fantastic: a warped and unexpected sucker punch of a read! Between the stories from Neil and the fantastic artwork, it wasn’t a hard sell for me to devour the whole run. And those are the kinds of stories I not only love to read, but it’s the sort I equally enjoy writing: ones that draw you in only to deliver a crushing and unexpected blow to the gut where you just don’t feel right after. *Insert evil laugh* The Twisted Dark books deliver on that every time.
When Neil and I met and were talking about some stories I was working on a few years back at New York Comic Con in 2015, he invited me to send him the script for “Pandora” – a body swap story that goes horrifically wrong. All of the Twisted stories link together, however, so we worked together to tighten the story up and help it fit in with the rest of the stories for The Theory. Needless to say, I’m immensely pleased with how it came out thanks to Neil as well as our killer artists, Jim Terry and Liezl Buenaventura!
Me: What does a typical day in the life of Linda look like?
Gibson: Linda lives for discovering dead worlds. She loves finding information on alien civilizations and is remarkably positive about it. The fact is humans have faster than light travel and have found the remains of many alien civilizations but not one living one. All of them self-destructed or were destroyed. It is her job to find out why to try and stop humanity from having the same fate. There are so many worlds that the time she can spend on them is limited. Her days are pretty much spent working on-planet and writing reports of what she found there. We’ll be seeing her working on-planet within the stories themselves, and we’ll be seeing excerpts of some of her written reports in the end-notes after certain stories.
|Linda in the story ‘Battlesuit’: written by Neil
Gibson and David Court, illustrated by Phil Buckenham, colours by Liezl
Me: If you could go back in time with Jemm-r to make a minimal alteration just once, where would you go and what alteration would you make?
Gibson: Ooh – you ask good questions!
OK. I am hesitant to do anything with my life because I’m pretty happy. At the risk of being flippant, I would go back and stop the TV show The Apprentice from being greenlit. But if I had more time to think about this, I would probably try to stop a genocide.
|Jemm-r in the story ‘A Night Lionel Could Never
Forget’: Written by Neil Gibson, illustrated by Atula Siriwardane,
colours by Liezl Buenaventura
Me: You have a rotating team of artists. How did you go about picking which artist would illustrate each story?
Gibson: I tend to look for artists whose style I like and will match the theme of a story I am going for. Occasionally I have to fire artists for being too slow or not being good storytellers with their art, but usually I am blown away by how much better they make the stories.
Me: The Theory is currently available on Webtoons. Why did you decide to use this platform for your comic?
Gibson: We wanted it to reach as many people as possible. It’s early days, but we are really happy with the rating it is getting.
|Double-page spread from ‘A night Lionel Could
Not Forget’: Written by Neil Gibson, illustrated by Atula Siriwardane,
with colours by Liezl Buenaventura
Me: You mention that this comic is reminiscent of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. Which episode of each show do you think best exemplifies the themes/feel of The Theory and why?
Gibson: You really do ask great questions. Most interviews are easy, but you are making me think here! OK, For Black Mirror I really like “White Bear,” because of the reveal and twist at the end. That or White Christmas because what you thought was true was not. For The Twilight Zone, to be honest I can’t remember the names of most episodes, so I am going to have to pass!
Helvie: I was thinking a lot about the sickened feeling of horror after the very first episode of Black Mirror–”The National Anthem.” When Neil made the suggestion for a final body swap, I knew it was just right as it recalled that same feeling of “wrongness.”
There was also an old episode that I’d entirely forgotten about in The Twilight Zone, which contains a fairly similar plot point—aging or terminally ill people using science to swap themselves into newer bodies—called “The Trade-Ins” from 1962. Of course, there’s a sort of bittersweet, happy ending that takes place in that story whereas “Pandora” manages to take the story to another level entirely.
Neil, I think we officially “out-creeped” The Twilight Zone—that’s a good thing, right?
|From ‘Pandora’: Written by Neil Gibson and Forrest Helvie, illustrated by Jim Terry, colours by Liezl Buenaventura|
Me: What is the number one reason why people should back your Kickstarter?
Gibson: You will help get more of these stories made. Quite simply, if you don’t really enjoy the sample stories, then don’t back it. But if you like the samples, then help build this into the next big series. With your help, we can do this.
Helvie: Independent publishers like TPub have been and continue to create some amazing stories, and they’ve helped open up doors for all kinds of new creators to make their way into comics. I can look at bigger publishers from Titan Comics to Marvel and see folks who honed their craft working with Neil, and that doesn’t happen if those stories aren’t able to be published.
The bottom line is that we always hear people say they want different stories that push the boundaries of comics. Backing these creators on platforms like Kickstarter is one of the best ways to ensure that keeps happening. And honestly? Twisted Sci-Fi: The Theory looks to push the bar even higher for the Twisted books—you don’t want to miss out!
|From ‘Obsession’: Written by Neil Gibson and David Court, illustrated by Phil Buckenham, colours by Liezl Buenaventura|
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Gibson: Get your script finished, even if it is just four pages. Get your script finished. Get it drawn. Get feedback. Get better. Repeat.
We also have a comic making course. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free version.
Helvie: I still consider myself an aspiring comic writer, but I’d suggest the following: listen, learn, and live on. You will get feedback from people further down the path, and sometimes, that feedback will hurt. Listen to what’s being said. Then, try and learn from those around you. Working with Neil on “Pandora” was an awesome experience, and it’s helped me out as a writer in so many different ways. Lastly, live on. Publishing in any field is tough and you’re going to get knocked down—but don’t let it kill you. Get back up, live on, keep listening and learning, and eventually, you will find your way towards success—whatever that might look like!
Me: I also spoke in-depth with The Theory colorist Liezl Buenaventura about her experience in this sci-fi world.
Me: How did you become part of this project?
Buenaventura: I’m the series colorist for another TPub comic, Disposable Legends. I was offered “No Recidivism” first, and then I ended up doing the rest of the stories afterwards. 🙂
Me: What was your favorite page of the interiors in The Theory to color and why?
Buenaventura: Wow, that’s like asking which of my children is my favorite, haha. I loved working with all the artists on this book for various reasons, but a few pages that come to mind are:
1) The final page of “Pandora” because it’s delightfully twisted! (No spoilers, but I’m sure readers will see what I mean!)
2) Page 4 of “Battlesuit” was really fun to do because it’s a pretty effects-heavy page. We’re seeing half of the panels from the point of view of being inside the battle suit, so I really enjoyed figuring out a way to depict the deteriorating interior view screen.
3) Pages 3 and 4 of “Quarantine” were also especially fun to do, because the sprawling sci-fi landscapes felt so epic. Amrit could have been easily storyboarding the next big sci-fi movie when he drew them!
|From ‘Battlesuit’: written by Neil Gibson and David Court, illustrated by Phil Buckenham, colours by Liezl Buenaventura|
Me: What is the number one reason why people should back your Kickstarter?
Buenaventura: If you like smart, twisted, and absolutely gorgeous science-fiction, you will not be disappointed!
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book colorists?
Buenaventura: Never give up! It’s a bit of a cliché, but I’ve been in the comic industry for going on ten years now and the best advice I can give is to just really stick to it. It’s slow-going at the start, just the same as any freelance career, but if you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll eventually get where you want to go. 🙂
Me: Thank you for taking the time to let us in on these twisted science-fiction stories. If you’re reading this and interested in checking out The Theory, see the official Kickstarter here.
Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.
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