SDCC 14: JMS Shoots Straight While Firing From the Hip

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By David Nieves

J. Michael Straczynski isn’t one to mess around. Unless it’s an hour of sarcasm and announcements, which his spotlight panel, Comic-Con Saturday, had copious amounts of.

JMS as he’s know to his friends, enemies, and frenemies had a lot of updates on outhouse projects and something he announced at SDCC two years ago, Studio JMS. No doubt Joe wins the award for the self professed best in the world at being humble.

At the top of his update list was a full colored page from Superman Earth One: Volume 3. Not one of the most exciting pages from the book but it did show Adrian Syaf’s take on Earth One Superman. It doesn’t quite have the pulled back cinematic of previous artist Shane Davis but it looks to blend well with JMS’ direction for the character. The book comes out in February.

Studio JMS is shaping up to be a true multimedia one stop shop for comics, television, and film. This will spin out the “Joe’s Comics” imprint under Image. All the books announced during his stage presentation at a previous Image Expo are still on the way.

Ten Grand is currently in negotiations with a major network to be optioned as a TV show.

Sense8 is in production with Netflix for a 10 episode commitment. He talked about a run of meetings alongside his fellow producers, the Wachowskis’ (Matrix), and on their first one they met with Netflix and had the deal done after lunch. Daryl Hanna will appear on the show. You can see the entire cast list here. Several locations around the world from Chicago to the Arctic are being used. He’s selling it as the largest scope ever on television and it seems like that’s a promise he’ll keep.

JMS is a week away from finishing a second draft of the Shadowman movie

Because he doesn’t have enough to do he’s writing a pilot for Universal based on something by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.

Two Streets is a TV show he’s doing with Gale Ann Hurd of Valhalla and Universal is also set to produce. There’s nothing to talk about quite yet but he did show a title card for the show. It depicted a golden tinted city alley at night and what looked like a young girl draped in shadow. Could be a new age noir tale, if so I Derek Jeter tip my hat to JMS.

One of the big things he talked about was his current ties to Babylon 5. The original deal with Warner Bros will never show him anymore money from television. However he still owns the rights for a Babylon 5 movie. No studio will take the movie rights with another making money off the deal. The solution, Studio JMS. To the delight of everyone in the room he announced that his initial parlays through the studio would fund a Babylon 5 movie. In 2015 he’ll have a Babylon 5 film script done and WB has a year to make it, IF NOT in 2016 Studio JMS would spearhead the film.

After the announcements he told a story about him fraudulently acquiring his first degree. Apparently he was a terrible student with in his words “negative grade point average”. So in order to graduate from San Diego State he broke into the schools office and put his name on the graduation list. A trend he took one step further on his next academic step. He even put up a slide of his fraudulent Master’s degree.

The chairman of this board opened up to questions from the audience.

First question was about a musical from Studio JMS. He jokingly said, “it’s time.” JMS threw out the idea for Living Dead the musical with Irish step dancers. We’re 90% certain that was a joke but you couldn’t tell from his demeanor.

Another fan asked if anyone like Neil Gaiman would be writing episodes of his upcoming shows. JMS responded by praising Gaiman’s work but said all the episodes were already written by himself and the Wachowskis’.

One of the interesting questions was about if he’d crowd fund at least part of the money for Babylon 5. It took a lot for him to resist that lure. Straczynski joked how he came from “rank fandom and I’m just as rank as the rest of you.” He felt it would be taking advantage of the fans. Personally, I respect that. He even went as far as to say that between all the movies and merchandise, sci-fi and horror fans are the most exploited fans out there.

To close out the panel he gave the crowd some inspiring words of wisdom. “I come from poor, I come from the street, I come from San Diego. I see so many people defeat themselves.” He added, “create the lives you want for yourselves.”

Listening to JMS speak it was clear to hear just who he was deep down. A fan who came from nothing, equipped with some words and passion. Those same qualities that make him the realest guy in comics.

You can listen to the entire panel below

 

 

 

Comments

  1. To clarify on the musical. When he originally announced Studio JMS he had a troupe of Irish dancers as zombies perform at the panel At this panel, he indicated it is still in the works but has taken a back seat to everything else that has been going on.

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