A large and devoted audience showed up to J. Michael Straczynski’s spotlight panel at San Diego Comic-Con International on Saturday. Straczynski had been mildly ill before the panel, but had miraculously recovered mere hours prior. “My laryngitis cleared up today,” said Straczynski, “so I’m able to sound like someone who’s not a mouse.”
Because many of the attendees had never been to one of Straczynski’s panels before, he listed some of his many credits, including his reboot of the Archie Comics superhero characters in DC’s upcoming “Red Circle” and as well as “The Brave and the Bold,” the cult-favorite sci-fi drama “Babylon 5,” and last year’s feature film “Changeling” starring Angelina Jolie.
Straczynski also said that he is “doing another book which I’ve been told I can’t talk about. So I can’t say a word of what this book is until we get a proper announcement.” Straczynski then started to shuffle papers at the dais while humming the theme to Richard Donner’s “Superman”. The audience cheered in response.
“What else am I doing in features?” Straczynski asked himself. “I had to write them down, which is both wonderful and sad at the same time.”
The script that Straczynski wrote for Max Brooks’ “World War Z” is apparently moving through the development process, the news of which led to applause from the crowd.
Straczynski recently spoke at M.I.T., and they gave him a short list of topics they wanted him to talk about, including technology, culture, and dealing with failure. “We want you to talk about failure. We think you’re an expert!” JMS laughed.
The one lesson that Straczynski wanted to impart from his “failure talk” at M.I.T. was that people shouldn’t be afraid of failure. “We are all failure-averse,” said Straczynski. “What you’re afraid of holds you back. And all you can do to get over it is to go and do the damn thing!
“In conclusion, I want to reinforce to everyone in here, you’re all eccentric or else you wouldn’t be here. Listen to the quiet turning of your considered conscience. Everything else is a lie.”
Straczynski then opened up the floor for questions. “I have the most amount of fun interacting with you,” he said. “God knows why.”
A fan began by asking if there was an example of something that Straczynski didn’t have “remarkable success” in. “I suck at poetry,” said Straczynski. The fan then asked if that meant that he was going to start writing poetry. “Umm… I am now. And if I’m living in a hovel writing poetry, I’ll let you know.”
Straczynski also said that his career is expanding. “I’m starting to get offers to direct [movies], which is really cool, but there’s an offer now to write and direct a remake of a very famous film that I can’t talk about right now. But I never set out to do directing because of one reason: you have to get up really early in the morning. But next year, I might be directing a film.”
One of the last questions came from a fan that was incredibly fond of Straczynski’s run on “Amazing Spider-Man,” but complained that he dropped the book after the events of “One More Day.” He asked if Straczynski regretted anything about his run.
“You don’t tend to regret the stuff you did, you regret the stuff you didn’t do,” said Straczynski. “I understand your feeling about ‘One More Day’ and I share some of them. There was a point where I should have said ‘this is wrong’ and walked away, but I didn’t.”