CCI Xtra: Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski

J. Michael Straczynski has a lot on his plate right now. Fortunately, he was willing to share it with everybody at Comic-Con International in San Diego this past weekend.

Starting with his roots, JMS will be going back to television for an adaptation of the comic series "Rising Stars," and unlike a certain other show, "Rising Stars" will show you all the spectacular powers you see in the comics. An ongoing, primetime story, the first season will cover the murder mystery similar to the first arc of the book. "Rising Stars" isn't the only television project he's working on though.

"Every so often, Warner Brothers calls me and says, 'We have to do something else with Bab 5.'" However, JMS says that it just never happens. "It's like Lucy with the football," said Straczynski.

He's turned down making feature films because he couldn't see doing one without G'Kar yet, but he did have another idea. "What if we did a whole bunch of short films?" asked the writer.

A series of short films each based around a single 'Babylon 5' character to be aired on television and put on DVD. Of course, if JMS was to do such a project, he'd have some requests of his own. Like no interference from the studio.

"And I got it."

He'd want it clear that what he writes is what he writes.

"And I got it."

Of course he'd want to direct the short movies. too.

"And I got it."

The project is green lit and shooting starts in September.

"The theory is we get it shot in September, post October, November, December. Put it out first quarter of 07," revealed Straczynski.

After that revelation, it was time to move on to JMS' current writing home. The world of comic books. Stating that he had heard something about Marvel's "Civil War" somewhere along the line, he had a bit to say about everybody's favorite wall-crawler and his role in the story. "He's going to get screwed," exclaimed Straczysnki.

JMS is very excited about the possibilities that open up due to Spidey's recent unmasking. "To this day none of us can recall exactly who said it," Straczysnki said about who was responsible for coming up with the idea. "We debated it for a long time."

But whoever came up with the idea, JMS is the one who gets to have fun with it. "It puts him in the worst of all possible situations."

He explained how Spider-Man's life is just one big disaster after another and that things were looking too good for him for too long, so he's due. As for the "Civil War," JMS is just as happy about the story as everybody else. "We wanted to tell a story that reflected in comic book form, the strife we see in the country today. It's really invigorated the whole Marvel line," said Straczynski.

The problems that are being covered in "Civil War" are actually very close to JMS's mind as well. "We are as fractured as a society now as I have ever seen," making note of the many social lines that have divided people. "When we stop seeing each other as human beings, rage results. Casual cruelty results."

It's not all about Spider-Man and "Civil War," though. JMS has a new upcoming project, the previously announced "Bullet Points" with artist Tommy Lee Edwards. A sort of "What If…" story following the effect that a single bullet can have on the Marvel Universe were it to hit one person instead of another. "Inch by inch, year by year, we track over sixty years how that one bullet completely transforms the Marvel Universe," said Straczynski

JMS will also be working on another book for Marvel, but wouldn't divulge any more details other than, "It involves a guy with a hammer."

When asked how he became involved with comics in the first place, JMS' answer was surprisingly simple. "What brought me to super hero comics? I'm a fan," he said, admitting that his house looks like it was decorated by a fourteen year old with a platinum express card. "It's really dopey, but the only philosophy I have is do what you enjoy."

With comics and television covered, there's one more big format to talk about, and JMS is doing that too. The movie, tentatively titled "Changling," is a period piece set in the '20s about a woman whose son goes missing and doesn't quite come back the same. Ron Howard will be directing the film. So how does JMS feel about having his very own script picked up for a major motion picture? "I worked in television for 27 years. You think you know what the money truck looks like. Nooooo… no I had no idea what the money truck looked like," revealed Straczynski.

"Changling" isn't the only movie that's being sniffed at either. "Midnight Nation" is being bid on, too.

JMS captivated the audience so that the hour spent in line to get into the room was worth it and the half hour the show ran over didn't feel long enough. In spite of his best efforts to delay the inevitable, the panel did close and JMS left all of his fans in the audience with one last piece of advice.

"If I can get here, lord knows that you can get here. Good luck."


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