J. Michael Straczynski

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J. Michael Straczynski
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J. Michael Straczynski

Joseph Michael Straczynski (born July 17, 1954) is an award-winning American writer/producer of television series, novels, short stories, comic books, and radio dramas. He is also a playwright, journalist and author of a well-regarded tome on scriptwriting. He is most famous as the creator, executive producer and head writer for the science fiction TV series Babylon 5 and Crusade.

Straczynski wrote most of the Babylon 5 episodes, notably an unbroken 59-episode run including all of the third and fourth seasons. He is also a noted participant in Usenet and other early computer networks, interacting with fans through various online forums (including GEnie, CompuServe, and America Online) since 1985.

Straczynski's professional name is J. Michael Straczynski, although informally he goes by "Joe". In print, and particularly on Usenet, he is often referred to by his initials JMS.

Straczynski is a graduate of San Diego State University, having earned degrees in psychology and sociology (with minors in philosophy and literature). While at SDSU, he wrote prolifically for the student newspaper, at times penning so many articles that the paper was jokingly referred to as the "Daily Joe."

He is a friend and collaborator with speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison, a student and friend of Norman Corwin and an outspoken admirer of the work of Rod Serling.

Straczynski currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife, fellow writer Kathryn M. Drennan.

Contents

Early years

Straczynski hails from Paterson, New Jersey.

According to the jacket bio for the first edition of his scriptwriting text (see Other work below), Straczynski had a play produced when he was 17, a sitcom produced when he was 21, and sold his first movie script when he was 24. By the age of 28, he had credits that included television and film scripts, radio scripts for Alien Worlds and the Mutual Broadcasting System, a dozen plays, and more than 150 newspaper and magazine articles. He had also been teaching his craft for several years at various lectures and seminars in California and elsewhere.

He also spent some time co-hosting the Hour 25 radio talk show with Larry DiTillio.

Television

The Babylon 5 Station
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The Babylon 5 Station

Straczynski started in television in 1983, working on various animated shows, and he quickly worked his way from staff writer to executive producer, culminating in his most famous television work: Babylon 5 (for which he won back-to-back Hugo Awards). He wrote a staggering 91 out of Babylon 5's 110 episodes, as well as the pilot and five television movies. The character-driven space opera is also notable for its five year story arc, gritty realism, and its pioneering, extensive use of CGI for its special effects. Straczynski was also creator and executive producer of B5's aborted sequel series, Crusade, where he wrote 10 of the 13 episodes.

Straczynski created Jeremiah, loosely based on the French post-apocalyptic comic of the same name. He wrote 19 of the 39 episodes.

A partial list of Straczynski's other television credits:

Additionally, Straczynski was involved in She-Ra: Princess of Power, and Spiral Zone, from which he removed his name and used the pseudonym Fettes Grey (derived from the names of the grave robbers in The Bodysnatcher). He also wrote an episode of CBS Story Break (an adaptation of Evelyn Sibley Lampman's The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek), as well as an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, where he was supervising producer at its inception.

Straczynski has also worked on television movies. Outside of the five Babylon 5 films, he wrote the award-winning adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an attempted Captain Power spin-off pilot, Captain Power: The Beginning, and a Murder, She Wrote movie, Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For, which he also produced.

Novels and short stories

Straczynski is the author of three horror novels - Othersyde, Demon Knight, and Tribulations - and nearly twenty short stories, many of which are collected in two compilations, Tales from the New Twilight Zone and Straczynski Unplugged. He wrote the outlines for nine of the canonical Babylon 5 novels, and is the author of four Babylon 5 short stories published in magazines and (as of 2005) not yet reprinted.

Comic books

Straczynski has long been a comic aficionado, and wrote a few comics during the 1980s, namely an issue of Teen Titans Spotlight, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek. With the exception of the Babylon 5 comics, television work took over most of his writing duties throughout the 1980s and 1990s, until 1999 when he started writing Rising Stars for Top Cow / Image Comics. Eventually he worked mostly under his own imprint, Joe's Comics, for which he also wrote the critically acclaimed Midnight Nation miniseries, and the illustrated fantasy parable Delicate Creatures.

Soon, Straczynski developed a good reputation in the comics industry, and Marvel Comics signed him to an exclusive contract with a highly regarded (and high selling) run on The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel's flagship title. Other successful titles for Marvel followed.

Straczynski's work for Marvel includes:

Graphic novels and collections

Supreme Power Trade Paperbacks
  • Volume 1: Contact (#1-6)
  • Volume 2: Powers And Principalities (#7-12)
The Amazing Spider-Man Trade Paperbacks
  • Volume 1: Coming Home (#30-35)
  • Volume 2: Revelations (#36-39)
  • Volume 3: Until The Stars Turn Cold (#40-45)
  • Volume 4: The Life & Death of Spiders (#46-50)
  • Volume 5: Unintended Consequences (#51-56)
  • Volume 6: Happy Birthday (#57-58, #500-502)
  • Volume 7: The Book of Ezekiel (#503-508)
  • Volume 8: Sins Past (#509-514)
Rising Stars Trade Paperbacks
  • Volume 0: Visitations (#0, ½, Preview)
  • Volume 1: Born in Fire (#1-8)
  • Volume 2: Power (#9-16)
  • Volume 3: Fire and Ash (#17-24)
Midnight Nation
  • Entire 12-issue series collected in one volume
Delicate Creatures
  • stand-alone graphic novel

Other work

Straczynski wrote The Complete Book of Scriptwriting (ISBN 1852868821), often used as a text in introductory screenwriting courses, and now in its third edition. In the book Straczynski cites Mignon McLaughlin: "Anyone can write. The trouble with writers is that they can't do anything else." Throughout the book it becomes clear that he perceives himself as one of these hopeless writers.

Trivia

  • JMS is the creator of the word spoo.
  • In 2004 Straczynski was approached by Paramount Studios to become a producer of the Star Trek: Enterprise series. He declined, believing that he would not be allowed to take the show in the direction he felt it should go. He did write a treatment for a new Star Trek series, and there are persistent rumors that he might be asked to develop another Trek series in the future.

External links

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