Happy birthday J. Michael Straczynski!

J. Michael Straczynski in 2008 (Photo jms)
J. Michael Straczynski in 2008 (Photo jms)

Joseph Michael Straczynski was born on July 17, 1954 in Paterson, New Jersey, USA.

J. Michael Straczynski, also known as Joe Straczynski and on the Internet as jms, studied at Southwestern College and San Diego State University, where he started writing scripts for university plays. In the ’70s he worked as a radio review and scriptwriter and as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Magazine.

In San Diego, J. Michael Straczynski met Dathryn M. Drennan and in 1981 the two of them moved to Los Angeles, where they married in 1983. Their marriage lasted until their separation in 2002.

Already in the ’80s, J. Michael Straczynski started using the Internet and various online services and is considered the first television producer who interacted directly with his audience. For years he used the services GEnie, Compuserve and AOL as well as Usenet.

After writing a book on the work of screenwriter, J. Michael Straczynski started working for television. Initially, he wrote several scripts for cartoons such as “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “The Real Ghostbusters”, an animated adaptation of the movie “Ghostbusters”. He also developed an animated series titled “Spiral Zone” but the script written by him and his concept of the series were altered so much that he decided to be credited only with the pseudonym “Fettes Grey”.

In subsequent years, J. Michael Straczynski left animated productions and started writing scripts for the ’80 version of The Twilight Zone”. During the writers’ strike of 1988, he met Harlan Ellison and the two of them became friends. At the end of the strike he also became a story editor of “The Twilight Zone”, wrote several more screenplays for the show and another one was written by Ellison.

At the end of the ’80s, J. Michael Straczynski started writing comics too. Especially in the early years they were adaptations of stories from various TV shows including some he had worked for but also others such as “Star Trek”. In 1994 he was among the winners of the Inkpot Award and in 2002 he won the Eisner Award.

In the early ’90s, J. Michael Straczynski wrote scripts for several TV shows but in 1993 “Babylon 5: The Gathering” aired, the TV movie that acts as a pilot for the TV show “Babylon 5” for which jms is particularly famous. He won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation for the episode “The Coming of Shadows” together with director Janet Greek and for the episode “Severed Dreams” with director David Eagle. He was also the director of the final episode of the show, in which he appeared in a cameo, and of the double episode produced in 2007 “The Lost Tales”.

His unfortunate experience with “Crusade”, the spin-off of “Babylon 5” which was very short-lived due to TNT interference in the production and the rare TV movies connected to the show he produced over the years left J. Michael Straczynski with time to devote especially to comics. Between 2001 and 2007 he wrote several issues of “The Amazing Spider-Man” but occasionally also others, often connected to other DC and Marvel superheroes.

Between 2002 and 2004, J. Michael Straczynski produced and written the screenplays for several episodes of “Jeremiah”, inspired by a post-apocalyptic comic. Disagreements between MGM and Showtime on how to develop the how led to its end after its second season and again jms to use the pseudonym Fettes Grey for one of the scripts.

In those years, J. Michael Straczynski also collaborated to write stories and screenplays for movies such as “Changeling” in 2008, “Ninja Assassin” in 2009, “Thor” in 2011, “Underworld: Awakening” in 2012 and “World War Z” in 2013.

In 2012, J. Michael Straczynski launched Studio JMS with the aim of producing TV shows, movies, comics, games, and web series. In March 2013, it was announced that JMS Studio would produce along with Netflix and the Wachowski sisters the show “Sense8”, that lasted two seasons and ended in 2018 with a super final episode.

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