“Our mission is to get more people reading comics!” Twisted Dark’s Neil Gibson on the TPub comics manifesto
Thanks to his 8 volume collection of sinister short stories, Twisted Dark writer Neil Gibson has become a regular on the UK Convention scene, as well as a best-seller on the Amazon charts. But there’s much more to his publishing company, TPub Comics than shocks and scares, as we find out about his childhood antics, his journey to the light side and his mission to get more people reading comics!
Tell us a bit about the formation of TPub Comics, when did it launch and how did you all come together and start creating comics?
NG: When I first started selling volume 1 of Twisted Dark, I had some interest from publishers, but I didn’t think the deal they were offering was that fair. So I thought I would form my own company – hence TPub. It launched in 2012 and we now have a mix of some full time stuff, a few contractors and some volunteers. Our mission is to get more people reading comics because we all love the medium. We genuinely believe there is a comic out there for everyone. Finding the team took time but I am very happy with the guys now.
Your books have quite a diverse range, from kids to horror, but with an emphasis on the latter, what are your inspirations as a writer
NG: Lots of writers seem able to state their influences, but I don’t really think I have direct ones. Typically I just find interesting things and want to make a story about them. Either it is an interesting fact I hear about, or an interesting conversation I have (or imagine in my head) or it’s an idea for an unexpected twist. I take one of those 3 starting points and build a story around it.
How would you pitch and describe the various titles you have on your roster?
Big question! Here’s my answer:
|Title||What its about||Read it if you like|
|Twisted Dark||Psychological thrillers with twist endings||The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror, Dark stories with twist endings|
|Twisted Light||Amusing stories with twist endings||Laughing and being surprised|
|Twisted Sci-Fi||Science fiction stories with twist endings||Twisted Dark, Ray Bradbury, sci-fi in general|
|Theatrics||The king of broadway loses everything and has to rebuild himself.||Noir, period stories, boxing|
|Turncoat||An assassin of superheroes who hates his job||Deadpool, Spider-man, comedy action|
|Tabatha||A mailman who robs empty houses||Comedy horror, quirky characters!|
|Tortured Life||A man who can see how anyone will die, wants to kill himself||Clive Barker, Supernatural horror, Gore|
|The World of Chub Chub||Me as a kid and all the shenanigans I did.||Calvin and Hobbes, cute all ages stories, laughing at poor Neil and the horrible things he did to his mother|
You work with a variety of artists, but seem to mostly be associated with Caspar Wijingaard, how did the two of you come to work together and what kind of working dynamic do you have? What do each of you bring to the table?
NG: Caspar is incredibly talented and is on the brink of becoming huge in the comic book world. I was searching for artists when I first started, but his work really stood out and I knew I wanted to work with him. In terms of what dynamic we have, I am the writer and he is the artist which basically means we fight a lot! In terms of what each brings to the table, he brings his excellent art and great background details – the little easter eggs that are a delight. Hopefully I bring a half decent story.
With Twisted Dark what inspired you to go down the short story route? Which are your favourites that you have produced, and which are you proudest of?
NG: I was a brand new writer and I thought I should build up to a full length story by starting with short ones. My personal favourite so far is Peace and Quiet in volume 3, but the fan favourite is Little Piggy in volume 4. Just today I got some fan mail where the reader said it was “the darkest thing he had ever read” and he had to take a break before reading volume 5. I don’t think it’s that dark, but I guess when you are making things up it is different from experiencing it.
What I am proudest of is the grand plan for the whole series. We do need to get more readers to be able fully realise the vision, and fortunately we are growing exponentially. 13 months ago I think 4 shops in the world stocked us, and now over 400 do with more joining each week. Having said that, I still get emails every week from new fans who are complaining they cannot buy our comics. Eventually enough shops will stock us to avoid this problem.
The book has had some success on Amazon am I right? What do you think are the pros and cons of digital publishing vs. print publishing for small press and indie publishers?
NG: Digital allows you instant distribution and reach, but you have to fight against so many other titles. Print is great for conventions and getting into people hands when you are just starting. Ultimately print and digital are both great but you need to be able to market your book. Something I am not the best at to be honest!
What are the various pros and cons of Amazon vs. ComiXology or other methods of distribution?
NG: EVERYONE knows of Amazon or COmixology. That’s the advantage. The disadvantage is that they are huge companies and you are a drop in the ocean to them.
In your most recent book Tortured Life you’ve created a truly iconic horror villain in ‘The Bloody Man’? Can you tell us a bit about his inspration, where did the look and idea come from? And do you think we will see anything from him again?
NG: You will have to stay tuned to see! But I must stress that the Bloodyman was the creation of Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard. I wrote the first issue of the series and edited the rest. It’s great to help produce comics from a talented team.
In contrast you have created a kids book called Chub Chub which retells some of your childhood antics? Your poor mother!
NG: Yes. I know. It’s embarrassing!
How important was it for you to get all of that out of your system before heading back to the world of gory horror? Was that the same thinking when you came up with Twisted Light?
NG: Twisted Light was created because some people found Twisted Dark too dark and they wanted happier stories. Chub Chub was never meant to be a comic. It was originally a gift to my mother, but she found it so funny she insisted I turn it into a comic book. I felt I owed her that so now everyone knows what a cheeky kid I was. Thanks Mum!
What can we look forward to from you next? Anything major planned for TPub in 2016?
NG: SO much! We will be releasing a bunch of titles, but just head over to TPub.co.uk to read free samples. We also post recommendations of great comics from other publishers because we love sharing the good stuff.