• Twilight Man: Rod Serling And The Birth Of Television (Humanoids Publishing) Graphic Novel Review



    Twilight Man: Rod Serling And The Birth Of Television (Humanoids Publishing) Graphic Novel Review
    Released by: Humanoids Publishing
    Released on: October 8th, 2019.
    Written and illustrated by: Koren Shadmi
    Purchase From Amazon

    This sharply written and beautifully illustrated graphic novel does a fine job of telling the fascinating story of writer Rod Serling.

    Serling is, of course, known primarily as the creator and onscreen host of one of television’s most enduring benchmarks “The Twilight Zone." But beyond the obvious groundbreaking fantasy and science fiction he brought to the screen with that iconic show, Serling’s story is a great human interest tale.

    Serling was a small town Jewish boy from Binghamton, New York who went to war in the pacific during WWII as a scrawny 18 year old and came back as a traumatized young man with a yen to write. Shadmi has a crisp no-nonsense style that really captures the essence of Rod’s spirit. The story has a clever framing device with Rod trapped on a long distance flight (shades of a certain classic Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner and a gremlin) telling his life story to a lovely seat mate.

    Rod’s childhood is dealt with swiftly and Shadmi then takes us through essentially a life in three chapters - the war years, the struggles and eventual huge success of TZ and the final years until his untimely death where Rod struggled to find creative fulfillment.

    Rod Serling was an enormously complicated man. A chronic workaholic, brave soldier and PTSD sufferer, and brilliant writer and chronicler of the human condition. He was also a true humanist who defined the concept of the creatively driven individual. On a writing level, Shadmi really gets to the heart of Serling. The war chapters in particular really give the reader a feel for the terrors of jungle warfare and how small town boys from the U.S.A. were woefully mentally unprepared for dealing with the unique horrors they faced. The reader really sees that Serling’s hyper-moral universe in The Twilight Zone was partially forged as a response to dealing with the arbitrary and chaotic life and death aspects of war.

    Another great strength of the book is that it gives the reader a terrific history lesson about the birth of television and how closely tied it was to radio and live theater. Serling’s battles with the networks and the censors is surprisingly gripping stuff. There’s also some real pathos on hand. Rod basically smoked and worked himself into an early grave. Dead at 50 from a heart attack. And yet, the man who often claimed to be a mediocre writer who would never be remembered created a show that remains enormously and enduringly popular today.

    Shadmi utilizes a razor sharp black and white style that suits the material perfectly. Each panel is beautifully drawn and he has a real flair for this era. The suits, the near-constant smoking and the primitive technology - whether he’s sketching the 1950’s NYC skyline or boxy period authentic microphones or the bombed out remnants of Manila, everything looks just right. He’s also great with faces - Rod looks every inch like the guy you watched on television a hundred times.

    Anyone with an interest in The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling, or just a really cool pictorial history of the golden era of television should snap this right up. I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to buy a finished copy of the actual book (as opposed to just reading the PDF file submitted for review) and I must say it is a handsomely mounted production on nice study card stock and well printed.

    Highly recom
    mended.