When I was younger, every New Year’s Eve, I would watch a marathon of the television show, The Twilight Zone. For the millennials reading this, The Twilight Zone is like the British program, Black Mirror, but less British and without all the technology anxiety.
It was creepy, it was sometimes cerebral, it was thrilling, it was fun, and ever since that first New Year’s, I’ve been in love. As I grew up, I came to appreciate the nuances and technical masterwork (both in image and content) that are present in nearly ever episode (even I can’t love the episode where a playwright with writer’s block uses black magic to summon Shakespeare to help him).
To me, The Twilight Zone is some of the best short-form storytelling, especially in the genre of horror/sci-fi. Over the years, it has had multiple reboots and a movie, but none of them have capture the original magic. Black Mirror is great, but I find while there are many similarities, that show can stand on its own unique merits. The Twilight Zone remains unmatched after all these years.
So why do I detail my love for a show that has been off the air for more than half a century? Simply put, Sam Megaw‘s Within the Eye is the closet I have felt to watching an episode of Twilight Zone since the original series.
Set in 1975, Within the Eye tells the story Dr. Rich Kieran, a medical doctor who heads to Danvers State Hospital, with the intentions of using unorthodox techniques to help soothe the minds of the hospital’s unbalanced. As Rich delves into trying to help the patients, he finds himself falling deep into problems that may be far beyond his capabilities.
You can practically hear Rod Sterling saying the above as his introduction to the episode.
To be honest though, it is not the story that rings most true with The Twilight Zone, but how Megaw goes about telling this story. It all comes down to the art and flow of the story.
In his acknowledgement at the beginning of the comic, Megaw expresses pride in his art for this story, and he is right to have that pride. The artwork is dark and stylish. Black and white color, but with very expressionistic. This artwork perfectly mirrors the bleak, unsettling tone that is present throughout the story.
As for the flow of the story, I call back again to The Twilight Zone. What made those episodes truly scary was not blood, gore, or jump scares (save that for the next Saw movie), but an air of unsettling mystery that kept the viewer in the dark about what was happening. Something is amiss, but we are kept waiting until the very last moment for that final twist. The Twilight Zone proved that not knowing can be the scariest of all.
Within the Eye does just this. For most of the comic, we are walking through the halls of the psychiatric ward and hearing bits and pieces of character’s backstories, but the story keeps us in the dark about what is really is going on. We are no different than Dr. Rich Kieran, and for that reason, it can become quite unsettling to continue trying to figure out what is wrong.
As the story closes, we do finally get a look at what is behind the madness, and we are left in shock as more questions arise from the small answer we get. The story begins to hint at a “Big Brother-esque” allegory about finally seeing the truths of the world, but before we can find out anymore, the comic comes to a close. Much like a Twilight Zone, we may get some relief in the answer to the story’s question, but that doesn’t mean we are left with a happy ending.
As I have made clear, I am fan of this particular type of genre, but Within the Eye went far beyond my expectations, and really hit a home run. It brought me back to my childhood, and as weird as that might be to say about a story in a mental hospital, it was a blast to see a story told like this one.
For more on Sam Megaw, check here.
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