“The Twilight Zone” has put a lasting legacy in the American consciousness from marathons to parodies, the show an icon for television and horror alike. From this legacy, there hasn't been a proper follow up to the original Twilight Zone until recently, with the independent comic “Ice Cream Man.”
“Ice Cream Man” is a comic series written by W. Maxwell Prince, illustrated by Martín Morazzo and colored by Chris O’Halloran. A New Weird anthology about an Ice Cream Man who serves out ice cream and horrors alike, as he narrates and appears throughout the series. Each story being a one-off narrative set in a small town, before expanding outward to being about anything.
What separates “Ice Cream Man'' from Twilight Zone lookalikes and remakes is the story. Each issue inhabits a different genre, from small-town horrors to a story of a washed-up Rock Star in the vein of Buddy Holly. The variety is a stand-out since it defies genre conventions. "Ice Cream Man'' can't be labeled as horror, fantasy or even comedy since each issue can be housed in one of these genres. Instead, the series is about singular ideas, each chapter being something strange, staged against the backdrop of an anthology. The formulaic nature of each issue allows for further variation. Examples being a palindrome, a how-to be a ghost guide, or three concurrent stories told on a page. It is a pure artistic license by the creators that inform the variety of the comic.
This artistic license is the material that made the original Twilight Zone so engaging. "The Twilight Zone" was not restrained by genre or topic, each episode discusses or involves a variety of topics from horror to science fiction. The variety of the show is what made it engaging. Though there have been attempts at providing that variety, nothing does it quite like "The Twilight Zone" or "Ice Cream Man."
What comes as a complete departure from “The Twilight Zone” formula is the use of the narrator as a character. In “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling never breaks the liminal space that divides him and the characters. Instead, he inhabits the region between screen and audience, a voice from the fourth wall.
The Ice Cream Man from the comic of the same name inhabits not only the liminal but the story itself. The Ice Cream Man is fleshed out as more than a narrator, but an antagonist of the stories themselves.
This element marks an evolution of “The Twilight Zone” formula, instead of relegating the narration to an unseen person, or an invisible narrator, a character creating and changing each story’s world. The horror and weird elements of each story are grounded in the actions of the narrator. His activity makes him as terrifying as the stories themselves.
Instead of a deconstruction of the genre itself, “Ice Cream Man” is an expansion of the dimensions of the anthology form. It presents a new take on Anthology by bookending stories with the recurring monster, our narrator. Leaving readers disturbed and wanting more, like the closing moments of the best from “The Twilight Zone.”
Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him firstname.lastname@example.org_.