It's hard to find a modern-day television series that continually offers intelligent scripts and thoughtful commentaries on society and history. Due to its creativity, imagination, and daring, the original Twilight Zone has always been one of my all-time favorite television series. It never scared me; it always intrigued me, and it always made me think, be it about injury, beauty, regret, global warming, fear, or the very essence and meaning of life.
Bloomsbury and Walker Books now bring The Twilight Zone to a new generation, thanks to their line of graphic novels based on the classic episodes. Most of these new adaptations have stuck to the original scripts.
However, something gets lost in translation, and I think it's because of the medium. There are different mediums and different formats for different stories and different people. Though I like graphic novels, they don't have sound. Thus, though Mark Kneece has adapted the original scripts, these new books lack the amazing narration previously provided by Rod Serling. I miss his voice while I turn the pages. I miss real movement and sound: the turn of a head, the whistle of a train, the rustle of wings, the laugh of a villain. I miss seeing a character's face crumble upon hearing or realizing what's happened, hearing the crunch of glass(es) and the final crescendo of music. Yes, some of those things may be conveyed on a page, but not all of them, not in the same way. Graphic novels provide a different kind of movement, from panel to panel, page to page. Graphic novels have benefits TV and film do not, and vice-versa. I just think the other dimensions - the dimension of sight (in this case, movement), the dimension of sound - on the TV show intensify the experience of The Twilight Zone.
The new books are full-color, with art created by students and faculty members of The Savannah College of Art and Design that will surely catch your eye. These bright palettes of color are another notable change from the originals. Though the 1983 film and various remakes of the TV series were shot in color, the original TZ was shot in black and white. Were these wholly new stories, I probably wouldn't think so much about this, but because I know the original series so well, those episodes are burned into my brain. I cherish well-shot black and white films and series, those which are stark and intense, with shadow and substance. If the rumored Leonardo DiCaprio-produced Twilight Zone film ever comes to fruition, perhaps they'll make it in black and white.
Hopefully, these new graphic novels based on episodes of The Twilight Zone will encourage kids to watch the classic television series, and to read the original short stories that inspired so many of those episodes. Maybe these new readers will create graphic novels or short stories of their own. Maybe they'll draw up storyboards and film these stories, beginning their own thoughtful and haunting anthologies.
So far, four Twilight Zone graphic novels are available:
- The After Hours
- Walking Distance
- The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
- The Odyssey of Flight 33
...and more are planned:
- The Midnight Sun (coming out in June)
- Deaths-Head Revisited (coming out in June)
- The Big Tall Wish (fall 2009)
- Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? (fall 2009)
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