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Issue 14, SUMMER 2009 $6.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN 1 File under: Film, Comic, Special Interest

Summer 2 2009 Issue Numbe Number 14 w ww.DarkDiscoverie


James R. Beach

Art Director/Managing Editor

Jason V Brock

Design and Layout JaSunni Productions, LLC ( _________


Tony Albarella Roger Anker James R. Beach Jason V Brock Sunni K Brock (Web Mistress) Christopher Conlon Henry Covert Bill Gauthier Earl Hamner, Jr. Richard Matheson William F. Nolan Jason B. Sizemore John Tomerlin Marc Scott Zicree

Contributing Artists/Photographers Jason V Brock (Cover and Interiors) William F. Nolan Collection Special Thanks

Joyce Beach Greg Bear (Beaumont etching) George Clayton Johnson (Photo: pg 14) John King Tarpinian (Photo: pg 13) CBS Promo Archives Rod Serling Memorial Foundation (


B & B Print Source (with veg-based inks) _______________________

DARK DISCOVERIES (ISSN 1548-6842) is published quarterly (Spring: April 30th, Summer: July 31st, Autumn: October 31st and Winter: January 31st) by James R. Beach and Dark Discoveries Publications, 142 Woodside Drive, Longview, WA 98632 Copyright ©2009 and beyond by Dark Discoveries Publications, and where specified elsewhere in the issue. All rights refer to the authors upon publication. Nothing shown can be reproduced without obtaining written permission from the creators. Direct all inquiries, address changes, submission queries,subscription orders and changes, etc. to: James R. Beach Dark Discoveries Publications 142 Woodside Drive Longview, WA 98632 U.S.A. e-mail: Please make check or money order payable to: James R. Beach or Dark Discoveries Publications Advertising rates available. Discounts for bulk and standing retail orders.

fiction Free Dirt (Teleplay) by William F. Nolan (based on a story by Charles Beaumont) Reflections by Earl Hamner, Jr. Nightmare At 20,000 Feet (Classic Reprint) by Richard Matheson Black Box by Jason V Brock City Hall by Jason B. Sizemore

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interviews George Clayton Johnson: A Touch of Strange by Jason V Brock Jason V Brock: Filmmaker, Writer, Provocateur by James R. Beach

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non-fiction A Tour Through The Twilight Zone by Marc Scott Zicree Just Another Pretty Face: Writing “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” by John Tomerlin The Evolution of a Pioneer: Why Rod Serling Entered The Twilight Zone by Tony Albarella Writing for The Twilight Zone by Earl Hamner “Be Careful What You Ask For...”: Serling, Bradbury and Beaumont (PART 1 of 2) by Roger Anker Re:discoveries - Comics, Film, Literature and Culture: The Four Color Zone by Henry Covert From L’Age d’Or to Gotterdammerung: How “The Group” Shaped a Pop Future by Jason V Brock Buried Treasures: The Twilight Zone’s Unseen Episodes by Christopher Conlon American Gauthic - Installment 10: The One About Life and Immortality by Bill Gauthier 3

9 17 25 26 28 46 50 59 61

George Clayton Johnson: A Touch of Strange by Jason V Brock With a career spanning more than fifty years, George Clayton Johnson is, indeed, a true ambassador of The Twilight Zone. Among his numerous credits: the primal dystopian science-fiction novel Logan’s Run (in collaboration with William F. Nolan); the original story (with Jack Golden Russell) for the film, re-make and sequels to Ocean’s Eleven; several episodes of other series’ (from the 1950s through the ‘70s), including Star Trek; Kung Fu and others. He is perhaps best known, however, as one of the main writers for the original Twilight Zone, along with Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and Earl Hamner, Jr. His omnibus, All of Us Are Dying and Other Stories (Subterranean Press, 1999), is an excellent overview of his output. Managing Editor/Interviewer Jason V Brock states: “During this marathon interview (over six hours at one time!), Mr. Johnson was by turns open, emotional, intellectual, amusing and profound. My wife, Sunni (my assistant), and I both enjoyed hanging out with this maestro of recursion.” What follows is part of a transcription of Brock’s extensive interviews with Johnson, which will be featured in the forthcoming JaSunni Productions, LLC documentary films The AckerMonster Chronicles (about the late Forrest J Ackerman), and Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man (about the sad fate of The Twilight Zone’s next principle writer after Rod Serling). Both are slated to be out later in 2009: for more information, please visit

Jason V Brock: First off, what was your relationship with/impression of Rod Serling? George Clayton Johnson: I liked him. That’s one thing I remember. I admired him and respected him. Rod and I had a curious relationship. I think I intimidated him, and he intimidated me. Brock: Why’s that? Johnson: He intimidated me because he was the king of television, with all of these Emmys ®, and he owned the show [The Twilight Zone], and what he said went -- where the show was concerned. I think I intimidated him because I’m a dog without a collar, and nobody’s my boss. I remember Rod asking me about agencies one time. He had just quit his agent, and he wanted to know who represented me. I said “I think I know who could represent you -- a guy over at United Artists: name is Ben Benjamin. Do you want me to call him and tell him you’re available? Yeah, I’ll do that: Hello Ben, I talked with Rod Serling, who just left his Agency and I told him about you. I’m sure if you called him he would be happy to talk with you.” I don’t know if anything ever came of that. I recall another time Rod said to me, “What do you think about me doing this Liar’s Club?” [Ed.: A comedic game show from the late sixties to the late eighties.] I knew it was beneath him. It was a fairly dumb show: I thought they needed him a lot more than he needed them, and I knew everybody else had told him the same thing, or else he wouldn’t be asking me the question. He wanted somebody to tell him it was okay for him to do it. And since I knew he was a very busy guy, I said to him “Do it! If you want to get up and run away and join the circus, well you’ve only got one life, so you might as well do it. If you want to be an actor, if you want to be the host of a damn show -- and you’ll enjoy doing it -there’ll always be plenty of time for you to be serious… Don’t let other people tell you what to do. So do


Introduction to “Free Dirt” There’s a story behind every teleplay and this one is no exception. Back in the early 1950s, Ray Bradbury and Charles Beaumont were driving through the suburbs of Los Angeles (Beaumont was at the wheel of course – Bradbury never drove!). They spotted a sign on the gate of a cemetery: FREE DIRT. Both had the same idea; each saw a story behind the sign: Ah! Cemetery Dirt! Containing, perhaps, the essence of the dead! “Chuck seemed so eager that I decided to let him do his ‘Free Dirt’ first,” declared Bradbury. “My story could wait.” Beaumont’s “Free Dirt” was printed in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the May, 1955 issue. (Bradbury’s version – same title – did not reach print until 1996 in his collection Quicker Than The Eye.) In the final years of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, Beaumont produced an abortive teleplay based on his story. By then, sadly, he was quite ill and the resulting script was put on the shelf and never produced. In March of 2005 publisher Charles Holloway, who had acquired the rights to do a new series – Lost Stories From The Twilight Zone – contacted me. “Would I be willing to write a new version of Charles Beaumont’s tale for this series?” I said yes. Thus, with Holloway’s permission, my teleplay is printed here for the first time. I like it and I hope you do, too. It was great fun to write. And maybe, somewhere, Chuck is scanning these pages. Here’s your story, old friend. What do you think? W.F.N. Vancouver, WA. 2009


A Teleplay by William F. Nolan (Based on a story by Charles Beaumont)

FADE IN: Interior of the Simon kitchen – DAY. Joe Simon is stocky, mid-forties. His wife Elly stands at the kitchen window, eyes fixed to an outside figure. They are in the Midwest, maybe Illinois or Missouri, and talk with poor grammar, dropping their “g”s – as do the other characters in the story. ELLY Just look at him! At it again. Plantin’ more seeds. JOE Guess since his wife died the garden’s all he’s got. ELLY (Shrugs) Ask me, it’s a waste a’ time. Nothin’s ever gonna grow out there except rocks. THEIR POV – THE MAN. He is Luther Aorta. Tall, middle-aged, and skinny as a fence rail. At the moment, he’s on his knees in his back yard vegetable garden (which is bare of vegetables) scattering seeds over the rocky, depleted soil. He looks desperate, his face tight with frustration. Aorta is not a happy man. CAMERA FOLLOWS JOE as he leaves the kitchen, walking to the fence which separates his property from Aorta’s. He leans on the top rail, watching his neighbor. JOE Mornin’ Luther. ON AORTA not looking up, intent on his work. He does not reply to Simon’s greeting. BACK TO SIMON annoyed at being ignored, but willing to try again. JOE Havin’ any luck? WIDER ON SCENE as Aorta continues to scatter seeds. AORTA I keep seedin’ – but nothin’ comes up. (beat) Got me some Soilo, guaranteed to make things grow, but it didn’t do no good. No good a’tall. JOE (Spits over the fence) Expect the ground’s about done in. Been overworked. Soil’s no good. Can’t grow nothin’ without good soil. AORTA stands up, dusting his hands. Looks more frustrated than ever.


Nightmare At 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson


eat belt, please,” said the stewardess cheerfully as she passed him. Almost as she spoke, the sign above the archway which led to the forward compartment lit up — FASTEN SEAT BELT - with, below, its attendant caution - NO SMOKING. Drawing in a deep lungful, Wilson exhaled it in bursts, then pressed the cigarette into the armrest tray with irritable stabbing motions. Outside, one of the engines coughed monstrously, spewing out a cloud of fume which fragmented into the night air. The fuselage began to shudder and Wilson, glancing through the window, saw the exhaust of flame jett ing whitely from the engine's nacelle. The second engine coughed, then roared, its propeller instantly a blur of revolution. With a tense submissiveness, Wilson fastened the belt across his lap. Now all the engines were running and Wilson's head throbbed in unison with the fuselage. He sat rigidly, staring at the seat ahead as the DC-7 taxied across the apron, heating the night with the thundering blast of its exhausts. At the edge of the runway, it halted. Wilson looked out through the window at the leviathan glitter of the terminal. By late morning, he thought, showered and cleanly dressed, he would be sitt ing in the office of one more contact discussing one more specious deal the net result of which would not add one jot of meaning to the history of mankind. It was all so damned — Wilson gasped as the engines began their warm-up race preparatory to takeoff. The sound, already loud, became deafening — waves of sound that crashed against Wilson's ears like club blows. He opened his mouth as if to let it drain. His eyes took on the glaze of a suffering man, his hands drew in like tensing claws. He started, legs retracting, as he felt a touch on his arm. Jerking aside his head, he saw the stewardess who had met him at the door. She was smiling down at him. “Are you all right?” he barely made out her words. Wilson pressed his lips together and agitated his hand at her as if pushing her away. Her smile flared into excess brightness, then fell as she turned and moved away. The plane began to move. At fi rst lethargically, like some behemoth struggling to overthrow the pull of its own weight. Then with more speed, forcing off the drag of friction. Wilson, turning to the window, saw the dark runway rushing by faster and faster. On the wing edge, there was a mechanical whining as the flaps descended. Then, imperceptibly, the giant wheels lost contact with the ground, the earth began to fall away. Trees flashed underneath, buildings, the darting quicksilver of car lights. The DC-7 banked slowly to the right, pulling itself upward toward the frosty glitter of the stars. Finally, it levelled off and the engines seemed to stop until Wilson's adjusting ear caught the murmur of their cruising speed. A moment of relief slackened his muscles, imparting a sense of well-being. Then it was gone. Wilson sat immobile, staring at the NO SMOKING sign until it winked out, then, quickly, lit a cigarette. Reaching into the seat-back pocket in front of him, he slid free his newspaper. As usual, the world was in a state similar to his. Friction in diplomatic circles, earthquakes and gunfi re, murder, rape, tornadoes and collisions. business confl icts, gangsterism. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world, thought Arthur Jeffrey Wilson. Fifteen minutes later, he tossed the paper aside. His stomach felt awful He glanced up at the signs beside the two lavatories. Both, illuminated, read OCCUPIED. He pressed out his third cigarette since takeoff and, turning off the overhead light, stared out through the window. Along the cabin's length, people were already fl icking out their lights and reclining their chairs for sleep. Wilson glanced at his watch. Eleven-twenty. He blew out tired breath. As he'd anticipated, the pills he'd taken before boarding hadn't done a bit of good. He stood abruptly as the woman came out of the lavatory and, snatching up his bag, he started down the aisle. His system, as expected, gave no cooperation. Wilson stood with a tired moan and adjusted his clothing. Having washed his hands and face, he removed the toilet kit from the bag and squeezed a fi lament of paste across his toothbrush. As he brushed, one hand braced for support against the cold bulkhead, he looked out through the port. Feet away was the pale blue of the inboard propeller. Wilson visualized what would happen if it were to tear loose and, like a tri-bladed cleaver, come slicing in at him. There was a sudden depression in his stomach. Wilson swallowed instinctively and got some pastestained saliva down his throat. Gagging, he turned and spat into the sink, then, hastily, washed out his mouth and took a drink. Dear God, if only he could have gone by train; had his own compartment, taken a casual stroll to the club car, sett led down in an easy chair with a drink and a magazine. But there was no such time or fortune in this world. He was about to put the toilet kit away when his gaze caught on the oilskin envelope in the bag. He hesitated, then, sett ing the small briefcase on the sink, drew out the envelope and undid it on his lap.


From L’Âge d’Or to Götterdämmerung: How Bradbury, Serling, Beaumont and ‘The Group’ shaped a Pop Future

by Jason V Brock I. A Beginning… Winter, 1967 – Los Angeles: Everyone was there: Richard Matheson, Ray Russell, Charles Beaumont, John Tomerlin, William F. Nolan and the rest. In other circumstances, such a gathering by these longtime friends would have been a spirited bash: maybe revelry of congratulations for a completed Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, or Thriller teleplay; perhaps a party in honor of another big sale to Playboy, Esquire or Rogue; possibly an afterhours preview of The Haunted Palace, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, or The Incredible Shrinking Man… Not this time. No, in this instance, their assemblage was not a cause for celebration. Instead, this was a time of solace; of reflection; of angst. They were all close in age -- midto-late thirties -- and gave off an aura of invincibility: young, handsome, intelligent, gifted. Furthermore, they appeared to have done it all: writing for the top publications and television shows of the day; scripting hit movies; and, of course, racing cars, finding love, raising families. Charles Beaumont, their natural leader, had always seemed the most indomitable, a true mensch: forceful, generous, crackling with energy and determination in spite of his daily migraines and fragile physical appearance. Now, though astonishing, the sad truth was incontrovertible: this multitalented writer, husband, father and leading light of “The Group”, was dead at age thirty-eight, victim of a mysterious, wasting brain disease. Chuck (as his friends knew him) always had the drive to be the best, and, if not the best, then the first. Nevertheless, here was one first that should have been precluded: crossing the ethereal threshold from life into death. As Beaumont’s coffin resonated with the first shovelful of cold, dark earth under the gloomy February sky, the others could only stare in disbelief, the melancholy strains of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor solemnly wafting through the chilly air in graceful exaltation… A world without the incandescent Charles Beaumont: it was nearly unfathomable. With the finality of the encompassing ground swallowing the mortal remains of their friend, all of their lives suddenly seemed at an

endpoint: empty, confusing, desolate. Walking back to their cars -- closing the collars of their coats against the blustery drizzle -- these young men seemed oblivious to the tears of their own wives as they grappled with this new reality. The altered universe now felt as skewed, alien and rubbery as a Salvador Dalí painting. Unbeknownst to everyone on that bleak day, however, was that his or her individual story, for good or ill, had just begun…

quantum physics leave no room for gods or myths within the labyrinthine construction of their infinitesimal subsystems, one still cannot help but draw comparisons to a divine origin, however misguided. Atoms, quarks and neutrinos are just so much less accessible – so less real, somehow – than the fabled heroes and heroines of yore. Indeed, the further one retreats from events that have actually transpired, the larger and more real those events appear to loom...

II. An Explanation

III. Lost Generations

In physics, there are no accidents, no surprises. Frequently, objects and relationships may seem random or nebulous, but deeper digging often reveals the mechanics, rules, patterns and laws underlying how all things in the universe interact, and, while not everything is well understood, in time, everything will be. It was the ancient Hindus and Greeks who first proposed the idea of the ‘atom’: a unit of matter that was irreducible. Over the course of thousands of years, the concept was further refined to the model of a ‘cloud’ – a nucleus, composed of bound neutrons and protons, with unbelievably rapid subatomic particles (electrons) revolving around this core in discrete energy shells. There are no literal physical boundaries, just the Four Fundamental Forces: Strong, Electromagnetic, Weak and Gravitational. While these atomic forms are the foundation of current conceptions of the universe, their structures are also a beautiful model for understanding group dynamics (such as the nuclear family in Sociology). Groups normally comprise strong individuals with an overarching drive, encircled by others exerting energy at the behest of the nucleus. As people enter and leave the orbits of this core, potentials wax and wane: fortunes ebb and flow; spheres of influence are created and destroyed; empires rise and fall; beginnings come and endings follow. Likewise, at the turbulent conclusion of these group lifecycles, the decay of such complex units is directly proportional to the fragile bonds of ego and covalence established at their zenith. Emotions and memory are generally not made of such stern stuff as the Fundamental Forces swirling around the Omniverse. These frail, interpersonal connections are at the atomic heart of all civilizations, great and small: they are the beginnings of philosophy and legend; the genesis of shared mythologies, both personal and communal; not quite history, but true nonetheless. Call it “cultural half-life”. Even though atomic theory and

So it is with modern and post-modern culture: culture defined broadly herein as a meta-system (delineated by such shared common events as literary movements, clothing trends, food, war and customs expressed within the context of a region, country, religion and so on). These larger expressions of a sort of ‘hive mind’ are comprised of profuse numbers of interdependent subsystems (family units, non-family groups [communes, bands, and collectives would be examples], et cetera). This stratum of culture is itself created of ever-smaller parts (individuals) and connections (ubiquitous modes of interacting and sharing knowledge, such as work, school, church and the like) that are not readily comprehensible to outsiders without careful study. In other words, as group bonds tighten, the more likely it is that a type of “shorthand” will develop among its constituents, rendering casual understanding difficult. For example, there may be unique methods of communicating to those that are indoctrinated into the mores of the subset, such as shared vocabulary, symbolic art, in-jokes, body language or other means. Such was the case with The Lost Generation: among them, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Anaïs Nin, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce. Like the Silent Generation to follow, they did not intend to change the world, just to change their world by exorcising the demons of World War I and the ghosts of the Jazz Age. Striving to create their own existence outside the perceived limitations of their elders, they rejected the rigid beliefs of the generation before them, who had done such damage to the world. Those first shots fired in the change of the old into the new reverberate still, signaling the transition from farmer to urbanite to suburban exile; the erstwhile vanguard into the post-modern passé. Benefactors of a technological revolution in the form of automobiles (and automation in general, extending even to death and mayhem on a scale never-before-seen in history: a classic example of the good


H.P. Lovecraft Special! Giger! Lumley! Kuksi! O’Bannon! Joshi! Lots more! DD #15: Fall, 2009! 2009! 63

Dark Discoveries #14 Preview: Twilight Zone 50th Anniversary Special!  

With the 50th anniversary coming up in October, we thought this was the perfect time to do a TZ special. This is a PACKED 64 pages: Zicree,...

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