“I suspect that my husband, Rod Serling, the Father of The Twilight Zone, would heartily approve of this new dimension of his stories. The adaptations and fine graphic pictures in this grand new series have truly caught the feeling and climate of that wondrous world of imagination.”
– Carol Serling
The Twilight Zone has been a favorite TV series of mine since I was a little kid. The 1959 black & white reruns specifically. They were short, but that isn’t to say they had no depth. They could be funny, scary, sad, or completely bizarre – but the episodes always had so much going on beneath the surface. In my opinion The Twilight Zone was not just a form of entertainment, it was also a vehicle that Rod Serling and other writers could use to satirize certain things going on in the world. The episodes could be watched solely as entertainment or they could provoke the viewer to look further into the issues they broached.
Location: Dachau concentration camp, years after World War II. A retired German SS captain returns to reminisce about his days in power – until he finds himself at the mercy of those he tortured, on trial by those who died at his hands. Justice will finally be served – in the Twilight Zone.
(Adapted from Rod Serling’s original television script)
Author: Mark Kneece Genre: Graphic Novel YA Illustrator: Chris Lie Type: Hardcover 72 pages Publisher: Walker Books Publication Date: May 2009
The original screenplay for this episode was apparently written as a way for Serling to address the aftermath of WWII. This was one of the more serious stories and the translation from television to graphic novel only emphasize this.
An SS officer who had escaped at the end of the war, went on to live a normal life under an assumed identity. In his later years he returns to Dachau, the camp he was in charge of. Once there he finds himself surrounded by memories and the ghosts of the men he helped destroy. These men teach him that they will have their revenge – not a physical revenge, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual revenge.
Death’s-Head Revisited was not an enjoyable graphic novel, but I feel there is much to be learned from it’s message. The ideas that a person cannot escape from the evil they do is very clear here. Guilt is something that will always be with a person, and even if they escape their punishment – it will come in time, regardless of the form it takes.
The Odyssey Of Flight 33
Transocean Flight 33 departs London bound for New York as scheduled. But a mysterious tailwind sends them far off course, hurtling back and forth through time. Can the crew hitch a ride in hyperspace and get the passengers back to their own time?
(Adapted from Rod Serling’s original television script)
Author: Mark Kneece Genre: Graphic Novel YA Illustrator: Robert Grabe Type: Hardcover 72 pages Publisher: Walker Books Publication Date: December 2008
My first experience with this story was watching it on DVD and it struck me as being so creepily realistic. The graphic novel version keeps this creepiness intact. Part of the reason I think it works well is that so many people have nervousness regarding air travel. I myself don’t mind going on planes but I have to admit to having those worst-case thoughts running through my mind.
In this story Flight 33 is running normal enough until the plane encounters some windy turbulence and lose contact. Why they lose radio contact is not in my worst-case worry file – they’ve actually run off course – into a time-slip. Now the pilots must try to figure out how to get back to their own time, before they run out of fuel.
The plot for this story was pretty basic, which was great because the characters really took the spotlight here. From the pilots and stewards, to the passengers there is a wide arc of reactions to the situation and all of them seem very natural. As a reader I didn’t become interested in one character more so than any other – however the ending is very open which allowed me to further imagine how they would all as individuals cope with their situation.
The Big Tall Wish
Washed-up boxer Bolie Jackson is about to be knocked down and counted out when Henry, a young neighbor with magical powers, makes the biggest, tallest wish he can think of - for Bolie to win the match. But believing doesn't come easily to some people, and rejecting Henry's wish could end Bolie's career and ruin a young boy's faith in magic. They each have to the count of ten ... in the Twilight Zone.(Adapted from Rod Serling’s original television script)
Author: Mark Kneece Genre: Graphic Novel YA Illustrator: Chris Lie Type: Hardcover 72 pages Publisher: Walker Books Publication Date: September 2009
The Big Tall Wish has a very simple, and heart-breaking premise. Bolie, a boxer whose on his way out of the profession, is going into a fight that he is destined to lose. Henry, a young boy who idolizes Bolie promises that he will make his biggest, tallest wish for Bolie to win. During the fight Bolie gets knocked out, ending the fight a loser – but when he regains consciousness it is to find out he won the fight after all. Bolie is unable to believe that Henry’s magic wish was responsible and is whooshed back to the boxing ring where he again regains consciousness as the fight’s loser. But the truly sad part of this story is that by denying Henry’s big, tall wish Bolie has destroyed a child’s belief in magic.
What makes this story such an important one aside from it’s obvious moral is the background history of the original television episode. The Big Tall Wish first aired on April 1960 and featured a leading cast of all black actors. Rod Serling’s decision to do this was really amazing and would prompt many other producers to do the same. Also in 1961 The Twilight Zone/Rod Serling was honored with the Unity Award for Outstanding Contributions to Better Race Relations for their support.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
Maple Street. Late on a Saturday afternoon. A mysterious flash of light results in a power outage. But this is no ordinary power failure, and the neighbors of Maple Street will soon find themselves in the dark with an enemy – of their own creation.(Adapted from Rod Serling’s original television script)
Author: Mark Kneece Genre: Graphic Novel YA Illustrator: Rich Ellis Type: Hardcover 72 pages Publisher: Walker Books Publication Date: December 2008
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street is by far one of my top ten Twilight Zone stories. In this story a extremely normal, even generic, neighborhood in the suburbs falls completely apart. Neighbors and friends turn on one another, paranoia spreads like wildfire, accusations and insults are thrown about and eventually violence breaks out, ending with senseless murder.
What could cause such a thing to happen? It’s actually something very innocent – the people on the street lose their power after witnessing what they believe to be a meteor shooting across the sky. Then someone mentions that perhaps their power has been shut off to keep them there. Next a young boy suggests that perhaps a monster did it, monsters who are now on the way to get them.
I absolutely love how this story moves forward so quickly, gaining momentum, just as the characters in the story grow more and more nervous, scared and paranoid. Anyone whose has ever heard of real life occurrences of group mass hysteria will understand the creepy feeling that this story gave me. When people don’t understand what is happening, the most outrageous things seem possible, and friends can suddenly seem like enemies. (Just consider for a moment the insanity that went on during the Salem witch hunts/trials!)
Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?
On a cold, snowy evening state troopers track footprints from a mysterious crash site to a nearby diner, where a group of bus passengers waits out the storm. But, oddly enough, there is one more person at this roadside eatery than there were people on the bus. Who is this extra person? And what are his or her intentions for planet Earth? An intergalactic twist like this can only be found ... in the Twilight Zone.
Author: Mark Kneece Genre: Graphic Novel YA Illustrator: Rich Ellis Type: Hardcover 72 pages Publisher: Walker Books Publication Date: September 2009
This last one is slightly different than the rest, it contains a little bit of mystery and humor. During a snowstorm a busload of travelers take refuge in a small-town diner. Meanwhile a pair of local police are investigating a mysterious crash of what they think must be a UFO. When a trail leads them to the diner it quickly becomes clear that one of the people in the diner isn’t supposed to be there – and that’s means he or she must be the alien who crashed the UFO.
Here is a situation where a group of people are thrown together, knowing that one of them may be an alien from another planet. They do become agitated and more than a little paranoid, everyone is trying to prove their own humanness or to point out why certain others may not be who they say they are. But rather than going the violent lynch mob route, this story takes a more lighthearted approach to the mystery. And the answer to the mystery may not be what the reader nor the group of people in the diner were expecting.
The entire Twilight Zone graphic novel series consists of eight books, so far I’ve only read these five but I am looking forward to checking out the other three. The artwork and text are great tributes to the original television episodes and are full of interesting extras, including original production notes, an introduction by Anna Marlis Burgard (Director of Industry Partnerships, Savannah College of Art and Design), and a closing essay entitled “Adapting Stories From Rod Serlings The Twilight Zone” by Mark Kneece (Professor of Sequential Art, Savannah College of Art and Design).
© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.