by Scott Heffernan:
“Never mind them. People are of no value. We could make more sometime… if we need them.”
One Saturday morning as a kid, I came across a strange claymation movie on an obscure television channel. The portion I stumbled on featured Adam, Eve, and the serpent, and was truly bizarre. I changed the channel (there were other Saturday morning cartoons on!), but found myself continually checking back to see what was going on. There was something simultaneously off-putting and fascinating about this show.
The film is called The Adventures of Mark Twain (Comet Quest if you’re British) and was directed by Will Vinton, the man behind the California Raisins claymation videos. The plot centers around Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Huck Finn sneaking onto Mark Twain’s airship as he chases Halley’s Comet to fulfill his destiny by crashing into it (as you do). The magical ship travels through time and space, weaving in themes and events from several of Twain’s stories along the way.
Of course I didn’t know any of this at the time. For a good twenty years I was left unsure of what I had seen—its creepiness a distant, haunting memory. I rediscovered the film several years ago after it was released on DVD and clips started showing up on YouTube. (Did anyone else see this growing up or was it just me? Oh, the 80s.)
There is one particular scene that is beyond frightening; adapted from an episode in Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger. I now present to you the creepiest thing you'll ever see on a Saturday morning.
Fun fact: The concept for the film was inspired by Twain’s own 1909 quote:
I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."Mark Twain died of a heart attack April 21, 1910—one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.
“I want to go home… ”
Scott Heffernan is an artist, designer, and photographer living in Seattle. He works on the creative team at Archie McPhee, doing all manner of strange things. He grew up a child of the 80s in Salt Lake City and loves skateboarding, toys, and thrifting. He served a mission in England/Wales and has a degree in American Sign Language from the University of Utah. He has one wife and two kids. Twitter: @ScottHeffernan. Tumblr: ScottHeff.tumblr.com.