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Straczynski, J Michael

Entry updated 22 January 2024. Tagged: Author, Comics, Film, TV.

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(1954-    ) US Television producer, playwright, journalist and author, who began to publish work of genre interest with "A Last Testament for Nick and the Trooper" in Shadows 6 (anth 1983) edited by Charles L Grant; his first novel, Demon Night (1988), like most of his fiction not connected to his television work, has been horror; further titles include OtherSyde (1989), which ends with Los Angeles in flames (see California; Horror in SF), and is Tribulation (2000), also set in Los Angeles. He is of greatest importance to the field for his work as creator of and producer and central scriptwriter for Babylon 5 (1993-1998), a series influential for its importation – from films like Alien (1979) and its sequels – of a more "realistic" vision of life in a Space Opera environment, and specifically in the eponymous Space Habitat; the series may also be the first of any significance to be built around a pre-conceived story arc. Straczynski created the original arc and wrote 92 of the 110 episodes, including the series' two dramatic-presentation Hugo winners: "The Coming of Shadows" (1995) and "Severed Dreams" (1996) An extensive selection from his Babylon 5 work is assembled in the Babylon 5 Scripts of J Michael Straczynski sequence beginning with The Babylon 5 Scripts of J Michael Straczynski: Volume 1 (coll 2005).

A second series, the Rising Stars sequence of Comics assembled in Graphic Novel form, beginning with Rising Stars, Vol 3: Fire and Ash (graph coll of linked stories 2001) with various artists, describes the lives as members of a Pariah Elite of 113 young men and women simultaneously transformed in utero into Superheroes with Superpowers, though some of the "Specials" become Villains; the agency of the transformation, not clearly explained, seems to be a mysterious force or Ray. Although five volumes were published, the central story arc ends with Rising Stars, Vol 3: Born in Fire (graph coll of linked stories 2005); Rising Stars (graph omni 2005) with various artists assembles the central three-part tale. Later volumes in the sequence [listed below for convenience] were essentially by other hands. The central story arc was novelized in part by Arthur Byron Cover as J Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars (2002) and J Michael Straczynski's Rising Stars, Book 2: Ten Years After (2002).

A third series, the Supreme Power sequence of Comics assembled in Graphic Novel form, beginning with Supreme Power, Vol 1 (graph coll of linked stories 2005), reiterates premises similar to those exposed in Rising Stars, but in this case consistent with the Marvel Comics universe. With DC Comics, Straczynski wrote two series in the Superman universe: the Superman: Earth One sequence beginning with Superman: Earth One (graph 2010) illus Shane Davis; and the Superman: Grounded sequence beginning with Superman: Grounded Vol 1 (graph 2012) illus Eddy Barrows. Though not journeyman work, as Straczynski's professional competence precludes commonplace efforts, a difficulty with the detail-work of plotting continues to mark these arcs; his importance to the field is still primarily due to the innovations and compulsiveness of Babylon 5.

Further Television projects with which Straczynski was involved as creator include Crusade (1999), a less successful sequel to Babylon 5, and the Post-Holocaust series Jeremiah (2002-2004). He also contributed scripts to the reincarnated The Twilight Zone (1985-1987). In Cinema, he co-wrote the stories on which were based the screenplays for Thor (2011) and World War Z (2013). More recently, together with Andy (now Lilly) and Lana Wachowski, he co-created and directed Sense8 (2015-current). [JC/DRL]

Joseph Michael Straczynski

born Patterson, New Jersey: 17 July 1954



Babylon 5 Universe

Babylon 5 Scripts of J Michael Straczynski

Rising Stars


Superman: Earth One

  • Superman: Earth One (New York: DC Comics, 2013) [graph: in the series universe: Superman: Earth One: illus/Eddy Barrows, Rod Reis and others: hb/]
  • Superman: Earth One Vol 2 (New York: DC Comics, 2014) [graph: in the series universe: Superman: Earth One: illus/hb/Shane Davis]

Superman: Grounded

individual titles

  • Demon Night (New York: E P Dutton, 1988) [hb/Matthew Quayle]
  • OtherSyde (New York: E P Dutton, 1990) [hb/]
  • Tribulations (Kansas City, Missouri: Dark Tales Publications, 2000) [pb/]
  • Delicate Creatures (Los Angeles, California: Top Cow Productions/Image Comics, 2001) [graph: illus/hb/Michael Zuli]
  • The Glass Box (Ashland, Oregon: Blackstone Publishing, 2024) [hb/]




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