Advance Review: The Theory From T Pub Is Gripping Gothic Sci-Fi
by Olly MacNamee
T Pub have always been an indie comic book publisher that has specialised in the more darker corners of human existence in their popular anthology series Twisted Dark, but with an itch to write something different from the usual gothic fare, Neil Gibson and friends have produced a new sci-fi anthology called The Theory, with volume one available to pre-order now. Written alongside David Court and Forrest Helvie with art from Amrit Birdi, Atula Sirwardane, Phil Buckingham and more, it’s certainly a collaborative effort and very well coordinated, given how many different artists were tasked with illustrating – at times – key characters throughout the book. An essential ingredient when offering a cohesive comic book experience. Thankfully, through strong designs (shred at the end of this first volume), these characters were (mostly) recognisable. And, when they weren’t, the script soon filled in the gaps.
With all these different contributors, while the book certainly seems to be an anthology when you first pick it up, it’s not long until you begin to realise that the various stories are all connected and that this volume is all part of a bigger, unraveling story within the same shared universe as the same characters I alluded to above come back into focus in different chapters. We witness a universe that seems to be dying with each new venture taken by one of the main characters in the book, astroarcheologist, Linda Edwards, who finds death and destruction wherever she journeys through space. Seems those propensities towards horror that T Pub are known for haven’t been completely shaken off when Gibson and his creative team of various writers and artists came to tackle this book.
While these stories can be read as individual threads with their own commentary on society’s evils – anything from our over-reliance on technology to our broken penal system – its only when taken as a whole do you get a more satisfying experience of this graphic novel. Add into it a time-traveling agent who seems to be hiding, no matter how often she changes the past, and you have all the trappings of an engaging sci-fi thriller where the lives of billions are on the line.
I’m sure you’ll have you personal favourites when picking up this book. For me, I couldn’t help but be bowled over by the stunning artwork in the story, ‘Communication’ by artist David Puppo – especially the double page spread in which we observe an alien society of Lizard People – going from an over polluted environmental mess to one pulled back from the brink of extinction by technology. Another particular favourite was ‘A Night Lionel Could Never Forget‘ written by Gibson and illustrated by Atula Siriwardane. A predatory male thinks he’s lucked out when he hits on a rather drunk club-goer only for her to reveal she isn’t all he thinks she is. Drunk, yes. But, beyond that, all bets are off.
What seems off, and sometimes confusing, at the start of the book quickly begins to fit into place and by the end, you’ll be left with the frustration that we all feel whenever our favourite contemporary TV show airs its season finale only to find we have to wait for the next installment. That’s when you know you’re hooked.
With the first volume read and the promise of more, juicer adventures to come, I really am keen to find out how this sci-fi, space-faring, time-traveling saga plays out. Seems Neil Gibson and company have learnt how to keep this particular idiot in suspense. Gripping, gothic-flavoured sci-fi.