The subgenre of supernatural love-gone-wrong anthologies is rather small, but regardless one of my favorites. I’ve voiced my love of short stories in reviews before, so when Twisted Romance was announced with an impressive lineup of artists and storytellers from all corners of comics and the internet, I was excited. Each issue of its four issue weekly run has a main comic, a prose story, and a back up comic. It’s an impressive thing to be able to bring together so many different creators with a wide range of visual styles and original voices. While details vary from story to story, overall, every piece in this anthology is engaging and unique.
The main comic, written by the organizer of the collection, Alex De Campi, and illustrated by Katie Skelly, follows a man who uses his ability to suck time away from people’s lives and uses this to run a business called Heartbreak Incorporated. I’ve read Skelly’s self published story, My Pretty Vampire, and really enjoyed it. Her art style combines thick lines with simple shapes, and really channels that of a classic cartoonist with a provocative spin. It’s throwback while still feeling current and fits perfectly into a collection like this. The story was as straightforward as it comes, but I fault that more to the limited length than to any lack of skill on De Campi’s part. That being said, Skelly has an amazing grasp on color and space usage, which really adds depth to the story where the length hinders it.
The prose piece, written by Magen Cubed, about a vampire in love with his monster hunter human roommate, was a little tropey, and again suffered from the problem of length. This leads me to think that this series might have been better released all together, without as much strain on the length of each piece. When the characters got together in the end and solved the mystery, it felt as though neither of the two pieces of the story got the focus they deserved due to the other half. With that thought in mind, it becomes better to just enjoy the pieces for what they are without dwelling too much on what could have been fixed to make it better. The back-up comic, a rather abstract piece that can’t really be described in the form of a plot summary, was visually striking to say the least.
This series is more about atmosphere and mood than it is about the logistics of the stories being told, and in the end it does that with flair. There is something to be said to the point of getting exposure for these artists and storytellers on a larger platform, while still letting them do what they want creatively. Some might stick better than others, but the principle is there. Twisted Romance has all the makings of a good alternative magazine-style anthology with the main problem being that the short stories don’t feel fully realized. It’s bold and does enough things right to merit your $3.99, but it remains to be seen if it will get the full mileage out of its creators and stories.