When I was a kid, I can remember looking through a friend’s stack of comic books and stumbling across a book of Twilight Zone stories. I recall thinking, "How cool is this? The same show that I love to stay up and watch is here in my hands just waiting to be read and — unlike the show — the comic is in color!"
So, I was excited to see that the Savannah College of Art and Design have teamed up with book publisher, Walker & Co. to revisit the Twilight Zone and plan to publish eight graphic novels based on early episodes.
I had a chance to read Walking Distance, a story from Season One of The Twilight Zone. (You can watch Walking Distance and other early episodes here.) The Walking Distance episode is one of the most personal that Rod Serling ever wrote and an early favorite among many fans and viewers. It tells the story of a man named Martin Sloan who, trying to escape the stresses of his life, finds himself traveling back in time to his childhood town and enjoying the simplicity of life as a kid before a series of events make him realize that you can never really go back home again.
The new graphic novels are being targeted at younger readers, though adults may find interest in them too. The artwork is good, although minimalist at times and the story has been adapted well from the episode. At the end of the book is a page listing the full credits from the television episode, including production notes. Plus, there’s a message from Mark Kneece, who adapted this book and founded SCAD’s sequential art program, about the challenges and responsibilities of taking on such an influential series as The Twilight Zone.
Overall, the book was pretty good and suited well for young readers who haven’t seen the old Twilight Zone episodes. But, for me, I couldn’t help feeling it lacked something. Maybe it was because the suspense that Serling masterfully built on film doesn’t translate to paper very well. Perhaps it was because the off-angle framing and unusual point-of-view shots — that were everywhere in the TV episodes — were missing in the graphic novel. Or maybe the episodes were just memories in my head that no book could never live up to. I guess that, like Martin Sloan, I learned you can never truly go home again.