We recognize Rod Serling as our sharply dressed, cigarette-smoking tour guide of The Twilight Zone, but the entertainment business once regarded him as the "Angry Young Man" of Television. Before he became the revered master of science fiction, Rod Serling was a just a writer who had to fight to make his voice heard. He vehemently challenged the networks and viewership alike to expand their minds and standards—rejecting notions of censorship, racism and war. But it wasn’t until he began to write about real world enemies in the guise of aliens and monsters that people lent their ears. In doing so, he pushed the television industry to the edge of glory, and himself to the edge of sanity. Rod operated in a dimension beyond that of contemporary society, making him both a revolutionary and an outsider.
The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi was released in October 2019 from Life Drawn, an imprint of Humanoids Inc.
After recently reading Koren's take on the Velvet Underground in the upcoming All Tomorrow's Parties, I wanted to dive into more of his work. I went back and found this particular biography, also told in graphic novel format, that he created a few years back.
Once again, Koren's artwork is outstanding as it conveys the narrative and action of the story. His backgrounds are well-researched and detailed. The first section that covers Serling's time as soldier is very moving, and the reader can easily see how these horrific experiences helped to shape the visual storyteller that Serling would become later in life. The second section perfectly captures the suburban and urban settings, complete with period appropriate fashions, furnishings and more. The artwork truly draws you (no pun intended) into Serling's life and world.
The story itself, as the bibliography in the back can attest, is well-sourced. It spans the changes of the times and of the newly evolving medium of television. Overall, Koren frames everything in a very creative way that is fitting to his subject.