In Review: Dark Matter

Dark Matter: Cover

Published by Red Shift Press
Out: At Thought Bubble 2014

This is what Red Shift Press had to say about their horror anthology.

Dark Matter is an anthology of nine short stories of differing genres, written by Chris Sides and each with a dark twist/theme. It is being self published by Chris, along with his long-time collaborator and friend Chris Travell via the imprint Redshift Press established in 2009. Since then, Chris and Chris have had collaborative work published in three issues of online horror anthology Hallowscream, as well as two stories included in Markosia’s British Showcase Anthology.

Including Chris Travell there are seven artists involved in the book (listed below). The book is launching at Thoughtbubble and will be available first in print at Alternate Universe Comics, Chesham and Leighton Buzzard and online at ‘.

I jumped straight in and had a read. It’s genuinely a nice surprise as all the stories are heavily horror slanted but with an different kind of edge in each case.


Dark Matter: TG92ZQ==(LOVE)


Written by Chris Sides
Art by Chris Travell

This was a really interesting noir story that masqueraded as a science fiction short. It opens on the classic noir model of a woman seeking out help from a loner and then took off at speed to the left. The art worked well but had moments of being a tiny bit too photo realistic for me. But it’s a great punchily crafted short story.

Cold Caller

Dark Matter: Cold Caller

Written by Chris Sides
Art by Dean Sanford
Letters by Chris Travell

(I would suggest that it was a coincidence but since we get sales calls on our mobiles all the time I’ll put it down as the state of our times). I read this great second story straight after hanging up on yet another PPI call (they are so annoying).  This has got to be the inspiration for a story like this and it’s about time. A salesman pursues a family to make a deal. He calls them, emails them and even messages them on Facebook! Of course it spirals out of control, with horrific results.

A superb story. The art is black and white and has a nice texture to its panels but again suffers a tiny bit from photo realistic postings and has a real Strangehaven look to the action. However it flows really well and the tension is built masterfully.

Out of Time

Dark Matter: Out of Time
Written by Chris Sides
Art by Simon Bennett-Hayes

A story that was originally printed in the mighty Futurequake small press title this really has the feel of an early 2000AD Future Shock story. The art has more of an undergroundy comix feel to it. It works well and tells a story and exits on a twist. You can feel that Chris has a grasp on the five page story, he understands the beats that you need to establish, tell a story and leave on a down/up note. Interesting stuff.

The Caretaker


Dark Matter: The Caretaker

Written by Chris Sides
Art by Freja Steel
Letters by Chris Travell

This story caught me by surprise. It opens like a haunted house story and then pushes through to something else (no spoilers). The art is a whole different bag from what has gone before and tells more with colours and shadows than the other stories. It has a rich depth to many of the panels that is really interesting to me but I find a couple of the faces lack that depth. It’s told well though and works really well as part of an anthology.

Black Earth

Dark Matter: Black Earth

Written by Chris Sides
Art by Mahmut Dervish
Letters by Chris Travell

I loved this story. Talk about a change of pace! A couple return to the irradiated land they left after a disaster. They work the land, despite the recommendations of others. Make friends with visiting soldiers. Then an event happens. It’s small and personal and told in a gentle autobiographical style. It works as a character piece as well as a disaster level horror story. The art has a beautiful black and white and densely inked wood cut look to it. Superb stuff indeed. Perfectly placed mid anthology, it was a real mid season event.


Dark Matter: Run

Written by Chris Sides
Art by Simon Bennett-Hayes
Lettered by Chris Travell

This is a story of a family suffering the loss of their son. The mother tries a run in the country to shakes her grief a little and it’s then that she encounters a ghostly child.

Listen, there’s nothing new in a horror story like this but it’s done so darn well. It’s got all the key storytelling moments down pat and leaves you with just the right amounts of guessing and wondering. The art by Simon Bennett-Hayes really has the feel of something by Ryan Kelly in a Vertigo comic. Even an old horror comics fan like myself found its last moment worked chillingly well.

Some Words of Advice


Dark Matter: Some Words of Advice

Written by Chris Sides
Art by Ashley Hewardine
Colours and Letters by Chris Travell

The two Christophers and Ashley have told a comedic time travel story. It’s bright and indie appearance proves the variety of this anthology and it works at breaking some tension. It has more of an indie small press vibe than most of the other stories. It’s a time travel wish fulfilment tale with a bump of an ending.


Dark Matter: Departure


Written by Chris Sides
Art by Freja Steel
Letters Chris Travell

This is a much shorter story at just two pages. The art is a huge improvement on Freja’s earlier work in the book and suits this sort of sci-fi story better, in my opinion. To talk to much about it would be to spoil it, but it’s a cool little story with a quick twist ending.


Dark Matter: Passengers



Written by Chris Sides
Art by Chris Travell

The volume is finished with another story by the two forces behind Dark Matter’s creation. It’s a very well told contemporary horror story making use of the narrative structure of a police interview. This style works really well with Chris Travell’s realistic art style and is one of my favourites in the book.

Overall, I have to admit to being really impressed with Dark Matter as a whole package. It is of a high quality throughout and there’s not really a dud amongst all nine stories. They have a consistently well written structure and all the art has individual styles that work for each twist. One small niggle would be that the cover could do with some work: it’s almost too abstract to be noticeable on a busy shelf for me. But this shouldn’t detract from what is an impressive piece of work from a small press company. I would encourage you to pick up a copy.

Many thanks for reading.

• You can find Red Shift Press at or at

• Chris Sides can be found on Twitter @Sidesy1982

• Chris Travell can be found on Twitter @Travellsky



Categories: British Comics, Features, Reviews

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