ECCC 2008: Straczynski Reveals Wealth of New Projects

"Howdy," multi-talented writer J. Michael Straczynski said to the audience at his "spotlight" panel Sunday at the Emerald City Comicon. "How goes?"

Needless to say, the going was great, and for the next hour, Straczynski (aka JMS) dealt out revelations about his bright and busy future, reflected on his long and successful career, and provided encouragement to the fans in attendance. Though he was recently announced as the new writer of DC Comics' "The brave & the bold" ongoing series, he had little to say about that gig, compared to the other projects currently on his plate. He began by discussing the film "Changeling", which is set to premiere at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Clint Eastwood directed JMS' script, and the film stars Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. "I'm the first comics guy to have a film at the Cannes Film Festival," JMS said, smiling. Other film projects in the works include "They Marched into the Sunlight"--to be helmed by Paul Greengrass, director of "United 93" and the last two Jason Bourne films--and "World War Z". JMS also did a rewrite (in only 60 hours!) on a new film being produced by the Wachowskis. He did not have any updates on the Silver Surfer movie being developed at Fox Studios. "I'm announcing this for the first time..." JMS told the crowd. "I'm adapting Lensman for Ron Howard." The Lensman series of novels (which stared in 1934) by E. E. Smith have been hailed as groundbreaking, definitive science-fiction. JMS said that Howard will be fully embracing the "space opera" aspects of the story and that they're envisioning it as an epic saga with elements of "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner". "We're seeing it as one of three films," he said. JMS of course is no stranger to science fiction, having proved his sc-fi mettle with his popular "Babylon 5" series that aired throughout the '90s. Straczynski called "Babylon 5" the "bright shining star of [his] career."

He recently sold a pitch to Tom Cruise, has a film in development with director Wolfgang Peterson, and has two other secret movie projects. Also top secret: a big story for DC Comics coming next year that he "can't talk about." He did, however, hint that it would have something to do with reviving older characters from the DC Comics pantheon, perhaps similar to his work on the Marvel series "The Twelve".

JMS also spoke passionately about his job, saying that his love for writing is what transformed him from being "the guy in the back row at conventions" to one of Emerald City Comicon's premiere guests. "I love writing," he said. "I write ten hours a day, every day." He encouraged those in the audience with a passion for creativity to pursue their dreams. "You've got to do it for one reason: to not do it is suicide." In an attempt to sidestep a discussion of the controversial “One More Day” storyline in the Spider-man books, JMS said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada is someone who feels equally strongly about the things he loves. "Joe cares passionately about Spider-Man," JMS said, but didn't elaborate much on the difficulties he faced on that continuity-altering story. "Ultimately it's [Marvel's] character. Ultimately the character belongs to them," he said. A fan from Louisiana asked JMS to sign his prop Mjolnir hammer, which JMS heartily agreed to do, and invited the man to the front of the room to get it autographed. He confirmed that Beta-Ray Bill will be appearing in "Thor", as well as a "round two" of Thor vs. Iron Man. In "The Twelve," he revealed that there will be a new interpretation of Rockman's origin in the next issue that may raise doubts about the character's sanity. JMS also went through the long list of team-ups he has planned for his run on "Brave & The Bold" (previously announced at yesterday's DC Nation panel), including: Batman and the Spectre, Lex Luthor and Swamp Thing, Deadman and Wonder Woman, Constantine and Eclipso, Superman and Sgt. Rock, Challengers of the Unknown and the Metal Men, and the Legion of Substitute Heroes with the Inferior Five. His previously announced Image projects now have names: "Final Justice" and "Ten Grand". The latter is a gritty noir story in the vein of "Sin City", and "Final Justice" is a surreal take on the superhero genre. Clearly, JMS is having a lot of fun with his comics and film work, so fans needn't worry when he says that, "the moment [he] stops finding it fun, [he'll] get out if it."

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