Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The Twilight Zone Graphic Novels
My dad always wanted me to watch the Twilight Zone on television with him. I wouldn't. I had a thing about black and white TV when I was younger, and I am sorry to say that I have as yet never seen an episode. When I received the arc for The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, and The Odyssey of Flight 33 I was intrigued, and I figured that they would make fun reading. I was right.
The Odyssey of Flight 33 caught my attention first. I am always a bit nervous when I fly, and these days of ditching in the Hudson have taken the every day feeling out of boarding a plane. Everything is going according to schedule on the Trans Ocean flight. The stewardesses don't have the kind of tea that a customer wants, others are making annoying small talk. (If you've ever been on a plane, chances are you've experienced these things!) Then all of a sudden, the crew and some passengers feel acceleration. Lots of acceleration. So much so that the instruments aren't even reading the speed anymore, and there is absolutely no contact with the ground.
All of a sudden there is a flash of white light, and things seem to even out. The pilot is eager to see land and brings the plane lower to take a look. Things do not look as they should. They get in touch with Laguardia Airport and ask for permission to land at JFK. The problem is that the folks at Laguardia have not heard of JFK. It hasn't been built yet.
Will Flight 33 ever find its way back to the present?
The Monsters are Due on Maple Street is a much uglier story that encompasses some of the paranoia present in 1950s America as well as the human condition.
The neighbors on Maple Street see what they think is a meteor late on a Saturday afternoon. Shortly thereafter all power is knocked out. Batteries included. Naturally, the folks on the street are confused and a little bit frightened as well. A couple of the men decide that they should go downtown and check out what is going on when young Tommy tells them that they shouldn't go. When questioned, Tommy sites the monster movies that he has seen...aliens never want people to know what is going on.
That's all it takes...a seed of an idea. Soon neighbors are turning on one another, and in true witch hunt fashion, nobody is safe. (This also makes an excellent curriculum connection to our 7th grade study of McCarthyism).
Each of these graphic novels begins with an explanation of the television series as well as a taste Cold War America. The back matter includes information from that particular episode of The Twilight Zone as well as a background about the adaptation of the stories from screen to page.
I have to say, at first I wasn't so sure about today's kids being interested in these books. My worries were completely unfounded. Out of all of our graphic novels, these are the ones that the 6th grade boys are passing from hand to hand. As soon as Jen got them into the hands of one boy, word spread. A few of them even sat SILENTLY during an indoor recess and just read them and passed them round robin style. I know that anytime a new title in the Twilight Zone series comes in, we will no longer even have to try to sell them. Simply put them on display and they take care of themselves.