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Twilight Zone Magazine Remembered: Then & Now @ WFC 2012

November 9th, 2012

Last Thursday I returned to the Twilight Zone.

But I didn’t go alone.

Also along for the journey were Scott Edelman, Nancy Baker, Darrell Schweitzer, and Elizabeth Hand – fellow contributors to Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, the legendary publication that dominated the fantasy landscape in the 1980s

Christopher Roden of Ash-Tree Press introduced our panel at World Fantasy 2012 (November 1 @ 9:00 p.m.), treating the audience to a PowerPoint presentation that featured a string of youthful photos of the panelists, all taken from the pages of the magazine. It was great seeing those kids again, looking back from the high ground of 2012.

After the introductions, Chris let the PowerPoint run on its own, displaying a string of vintage Twilight Zone covers. Thus, while the panelists reminisced, the screen became a window to the past: a simple but effective touch.

Afterward, we got together for a couple of photo ops, one in which we all lined up with issues containing our stories, and a second that featured each of us standing beside photographs from the magazine’s contributor pages — making for some interesting then-and-now comparisons.

For me, that second op made for a real Twilight Zone moment, standing beside the image of a kid who at the time had sold barely a half-dozen stories. It’s nice to be still in the game.

The same can certainly be said for Elizabeth Hand, this year’s WFC author guest of honor, who has gone on to win three World Fantasy Awards, two Nebula Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, and others. Recently, Publishers Weekly named her novel Available Dark one of the Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers of the season.

Nancy Baker’s first sale to the magazine was “The Party Over There,” which appeared in the June 1988 issue. (In my previous post, “Remembering The Twilight Zone @ World Fantasy 2012,” I erroneously identified that story as “Exodus 22:18,” which was her second TZ story, appearing in June 1989.) Nancy has gone on to write three well-receive vampire novels: The Night InsideBlood and Chrysanthemums, and A Terrible Beauty.  She is currently working on a fourth book, which she tells us has nothing to do with vampires.

Scott Edelman was already active in fantasy publishing by the time he made his first TZ sale in 1983. In the 70s he wrote for both Marvel and DC Comics, creating The Scarecrow (a.k.a. Straw Man) for the Marvel universe. He has edited Science Fiction Weekly (the online magazine of the Sci Fi Channel) since 2000.

During our panel, Scott reminisced about the lobby of the Twilight Zone offices, which TZ shared with Gallery (a magazine that catered to a decidedly different kind of fantasy).

One side of the lobby displayed Gallery covers featuring scantily-clad women, while the other side was dominated by the much more sublime and surreal covers of Twilight Zone. Teasy vs. TZ? Ah, gotta love the 80s!

Our fifth panelist was writer, editor, and critic Derrell Schweitzer, who spoke insightfully about the role that Publishers Clearing House played in the magazine’s demise. According to Derrell, PCH oversold underpriced subscriptions, resulting in cash-flow problems.

And so today we are left with fond memories, not to mention careers that began with Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine.

What do you think? Do you remember the magazine? Thoughts, comments, and corrections are always welcome. Use the comment box below or the Facebook tab at the top of the page.

Rock on!