Friday, January 27, 2012

Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine

First issue, April, 1981. Image copyright TZ Publications
                Though Rod Serling sold syndication rights for The Twilight Zone to CBS for a lump sum at the end of the show's original run, the Serling estate retained marketing and merchandising rights to the show's namesake. In the early 1980s, Carol Serling was approached with an offer to begin a magazine bearing the name of her late husband's most famous creation. At the editorial helm would be T.E.D. Klein, a noted authority on science fiction and horror as well as a strong up-and-coming fiction writer. Impressed by Klein's vision for the publication, Carol Serling agreed to allow The Twilight Zone to appear on the magazine's cover with the stipulation that her husband's name precede the title. Thus, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine was created.
             Backed financially by Montcalm Publishing and retaining copyright under the banner TZ Publications, the first issue arrived mid-spring, cover dated April, 1981. The magazine lasted another eight years, spawned a digest-sized sister publication (Night Cry), went through multiple schedule changes and three additional editors, and finally closed out with the June 1989 issue. In the years between, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine set the standard for genre magazine publishing and offered the most dependable market for established and aspiring writers of horror and dark fantasy fiction, publishing new work by the giants of the genre as well as work by up-and-coming writers, many of whom would go on to highly successful careers. The magazine also published classics of the genre by writers having since fallen into obscurity, and featured editorials on virtually every subject and within every medium encompassed in the classic and contemporary fields of science fiction and fantasy.
                Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine published virtually every important speculative fiction writer of its era. Some of the writers to see their fiction published between the pages of the magazine include: Stephen King, Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, David Morrell, Joe R. Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Simmons, Spider Robinson, Robert Sheckley, Charles L. Grant, Richard Christian Matheson, Fritz Leiber, Steve Rasnic Tem, Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Joe Haldeman, Tanith Lee, George R.R. Martin, David J. Schow, Dean Koontz, and Lisa Tuttle. The magazine also published several treatments and short stories written by Rod Serling, as well as the work of past masters such as M.R. James, J. Sheridan LeFanu, and William Hope Hodgson.
                The editorial work for the magazine was superb. Contributions included essays on literary history by Mike Ashley, op-ed essays and artwork by Gahan Wilson, film reviews by Theodore Sturgeon, book reviews by Robert Silverberg, interviews conducted by Stanley Wiater, and anthology television episode guides written by Marc Scott Zicree (The Twilight Zone), David J. Schow (The Outer Limits), and J. Michael Straczynski (Rod Serling's Night Gallery). The success of the magazine in its early years was a strong factor when CBS decided to revive the show in 1985. The magazine offered the perfect platform for promoting the new incarnation of The Twilight Zone. Each issue also typically featured one or more interviews with leading writers and filmmakers that included: Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Robert Bloch, Stephen King, John Saul, Oliver Stone, Dean Koontz, and Harlan Ellison.

June, 1982 issue, containing Matheson's "The Doll." Copyright TZ Publications
Perhaps the most significant contribution to the magazine was the lost or forgotten ephemora from the original series of The Twilight Zone.  Each issue printed a complete teleplay for an episode of the original series, the first two years being devoted almost exclusively to the teleplays of Rod Serling. In later issues, the magazine would print story treatments and teleplays that were initially rejected or left unused, many by the original series's final producer, William Froug, who rejected original teleplays from the show's most accomplished creators, including Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and George Clayton Johnson. Among the most interesting items to first see print in the pages of the magazine was George Clayton Johnson's short story "Sea Change" about a sailor whose hand is cut off in an accident and from whose amputated hand grows a malevolent doppleganger intent on destroying its mirror image. Johnson originally offered the story treatment as a potential episode but the treatment was rejected on the grounds that its subject matter, especially the cutting off of the hand, was beyond the acceptable grounds for the show's subject matter. Another interesting item was Richard Matheson's original teleplay "The Doll." Initially rejected for production by William Froug, Matheson's teleplay was published in the June, 1982 issue of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine and was later dramatized on Steven Spielberg's anthology television series Amazing Stories. Actor John Lithgow won an Emmy Award for his performance in the episode.
                T.E.D. Klein relinquished editorial duties of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine with the July/August, 1985 issue, leaving to pursue a career as a full-time ficiton writer. Michael Blaine stepped in as editor, concluding his run on the magazine with the August, 1986 issue. Robin Bromley edited a single issue, October, 1986, before Tappan King assumed the editor role for the remainder of the magazine's run.
              Each editor favored a different style for the magazine. Klein much tailored the magazine to feature coverage of the titan horror novelists of the era (King, Straub, Bloch, etc.) as well as explore the classic period of the genre (roughly the 1890s through the pulps) by including some of the finest essays ever written on the subject of weird fiction authors as diverse as Arthur Machen and L.P. Hartley. Klein also kept an eye firmly on the magazine's namesake, giving author Marc Scott Zicree space to compile his essential episode guide (later expanded into his seminal Twilight Zone Companion), as well as including teleplays from the series (a feature which would appear and disappear with irregularity under the other editors), and include essays such as George Clayton Johnson's "Writing for the Twilight Zone." 
           Blaine eliminated much of the space which had previously been devoted to long and insightful editorials in exchange for further focus on current film and television and a deeper dedication to original fiction. It was under Blaine's editorship that J. Michael Straczynski's guide to Rod Serling's Night Gallery was interrupted, not to be continued until Tappan King assumed the role of editor. 
            King again gave space to long running features such as the guides to Night Gallery and David J. Schow's guide to The Outer Limits, as well as re-focused much of the magazine on the original series of the The Twilight Zone. 
             Original fiction and book and film reviews were the constant of the magazine throughout. 

First issue of Night Cry. Copyright TZ Publications
          In 1984, a new digest sized magazine hit newsstands. TZ Special #1 appeared as a heading,  below that: Night Cry: 20 Tales of Heartstopping Terror from Rod Serling's the Twilight Zone Magazine. This special publication consisted of editor T.E.D. Klein's selection of the best short stories to appear in Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine over the previous three years. It wasn't the first time Klein put out an all-fiction special issue. A year earlier, Klein compiled Great Stories from Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, a projected annual volume which only ran the single year and assumed the same format of the magazine. Klein's new fiction digest magazine would shorten its title to simply Night Cry and continue as a quarterly periodical that published new fiction from some of the most recognizable names in dark fantasy. Whereas the fiction in Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine encompassed horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction, Night Cry devoted itself exclusively to horror fiction. Beginning  with the Summer, 1985 issue, Night Cry saw an additional ten issues published, concluding with the Fall, 1987 issue.  The magazine was edited by T.E.D. Klein until the Winter, 1985 issue when Alan Rodgers took over editorial duties until the magazine's end. "From the editors of Rod Serling's the Twilight Zone Magazine" appeared as a heading on every issue of Night Cry. 
Here is a quick checklist for Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry.
Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine:
1981- April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
1982- Jan, Feb, March, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
1983- Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec (+ Annual)
1984- Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec
1985- Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec
1986- Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec
1987- Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec
1988- Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec
1989- Feb, Apr, Jun
Night Cry:
1984- Night Cry/ Twilight Zone Special
1985- Summer, Fall, Winter
1986- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
1987- Spring, Summer, Fall
                Additional information about Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine, including full contents list for each issue and cover artist credits, can be found at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database with the following link: Internet Speculative Fiction Database
                A full cover gallery of both Rod Serling's the Twilight Zone Magazine and Night Cry can be accessed with the following link: TZ Magazine & Night Cry Cover Gallery
                For those interested in going beyond Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Magazine and exploring what other genre periodicals have offered in the way of coverage of the original series, here is a quick rundown of those magazines worth picking up:
-Starlog, issue #15, August, 1978:

Copyright O'Quinn Studios, Inc.

                The first excellent coverage of the original series in a major genre periodical occurred in this issue. An 18-page special was devoted to The Twilight Zone with most of the coverage being a condensed biography of Rod Serling and the show's impact on science fiction in general. A very basic but complete episode guide to the original series was provided, the first time an episode guide for the show was to see print. The major bonus of the issue is a full-color pull out painting of Rod Serling against a celestial background with the printed transcript of the most famous opening for The Twilight Zone. Click here to read this issue of Starlog.
  -Filmfax, issue # 75-76, Oct./Jan. 2000
                Featuring evocative cover art by Harley Brown, this 40th anniversay celebration of the original series is the single best issue of a genre periodical ever devoted to The Twilight Zone. It comes highly recommended. Highlights include interviews conducted by Matthew R. Bradley with original series writers Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, and Jerry Sohl, Christopher Conlon's seminal essay "Southern California Sorcerers," which later inspired a collection of short stories, and a reprint of Charles Beaumont's essay "The Seeing I," written for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as a firsthand preview of the original series prior to the airing of the first episode.  Click here for FilmFax Magazine
-Rue Morgue Magazine, issue # 35, October, 2003
                This issue of the excellent Canadian magazine is one of the annual Halloween issues with a feature story on The Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson, the bulk of which is devoted to an examination of his contribution to the seminal science fiction anthology series. Click here for Rue Morgue Magazine
-Filmfax Plus, issue # 119, Winter, 2008
                This issue is notable for another excellent cover painting by artist Harley Brown inspired by the original series episodes "Eye of the Beholder" (a.ka. "A Private World of Darkness"), "Nick of Time," and "The Invaders." This issue also features a lengthy interview with Del Reisman, associate producer for the original series.  Click here for FilmFax Magazine

Copyright The Brooklyn Co., Inc.
-Fangoria, issue # 301, March, 2011
                With a wonderful cover painting of the Mystic Seer from the original series episode "Nick of Time," the feature story of this issue of the seminal horror entertainment magazine is devoted to stalwart Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson. Though the feature covers the entirety of Matheson's career, a great amount of the editorial is, of course, devoted to the author's work on The Twilight Zone. Click here for Fangoria

-The Greatest Sci-Fi Films & TV of All Time, Volume One, 2011
SciFi Now Magazine and its parent company, Imagine Publishing, released this special edition one-off magazine in late 2011. Half of its contents are devoted to science fiction film and the other half to science fiction television. The first television show covered is The Twilight Zone in an eight page feature titled "The Complete Guide to The Twilight Zone." Though the feature is far from a complete guide to the show, it does offer an interesting, if basic, examination of the show. The article gives a brief history of the original series and a brief biography of its creator, Rod Serling. It goes on to provide a top-ten episode list, a list of Twilight Zone spoofs, a brief examination of the two revival series and the feature film, and concludes with a look at some of the actors and actresses that have appeared in Twilight Zone episodes and gone on from there to much more prominent careers.

Copyright Movieland Classics, LLC
-Famous Monsters of Filmland, issue # 259, Jan/Feb 2012
                Featuring an outstanding alternate cover depicting the most famous images from The Twilight Zone, this issue of the first ever magazine for monster fans is an impressive tribute to the original series. Highlights include interviews with Carol Serling, Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, and Earl Hamner, Jr., an article on Charles Beaumont and his influence, an examination  of Twilight Zone: The Movie, and the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas. This issue also comes highly recommended.  Click here for Famous Monsters!
--Jordan Prejean

1 comment:

  1. Anyone have any idea of the current value of the premier issue of Night Cry might be worth?