A Stuttering Start To Joe’s Comics

Steve Robles wrote for Bleeding Cool from San Diego Comic Con

As his very self-congratulatory promo video reminds me, J. Michael Straczinsky is a very prolific man.

His panel starts with a series of stops. Technical difficulties bring a little levity to the room as JMS battles a faulty projector and bumbling technical staff to announce the formation of Studio JMS, his self-branded home for Straczinsky-branded comics, films and more.

The most amusing is heralded by a cadre of Riverdancing zombies and zombettes. They are promoting “Living Dead: The Musical”. Following up the announcement with the promise of quality by listing some very witty song titles, JMS seems the proudest of this project.

Other things announced: A revived “Joe’s Comics” imprint with Image, several new and re-vamped comics titles and web-based projects in the motion comics and web-series arenas.

I’ve always been most amused by JMS when he interacts with a crowd. At the Anaheim, CA Wonder-Con, JMS held court in a panel that amounted to the most curmudgeonly one-man show in history. For a man who professes to hate crowds and promoting, JMS knows how to handle a crowd. The most entertaining portion of the panel is when Straczynski runs into the crowd like a Geeky Phil Donahue to answer questions from the fans in attendance.

No, he will not be writing any potential Wonder Woman movie. Yes, there is a Babylon 5 project of some sort in the works with Warner Brothers. Maybe there might be a Blu-ray release of Babylon 5 – just as soon as someone gets on the impossible task of re-doing all the space-based CGI, the nineties-based technology of which would not hold up under the intense scrutiny of HD.

I actually quite think I’d like to spend some time with JMS. From what I gleaned of his life’s story from Wonder-Con, this is another man who pursued his dream with a very definite goal in mind. Veritably bullying his way into the world of television writing, he worked with greats like Harlan Ellison on his way to his own success.

Unapologetically profane, JMS ignores the suggestion to keep his language clean here just as he did at Wonder-Con. I can’t help but chuckle as he tells a teen-age fan to purge the shit from her system in order to be a better writer.

“The first attempts will always be shit,” he offers. “Get rid of the shit.”

Any feelings I may have had of being huckstered are diffused by JMS’s sheer exuberance for his projects. I almost believe his zombie musical won’t be one of the deadliest things to hit mankind since Ebola. Almost.

I actually think one of the comic projects, “Sidekick” has some potential. Left alone by the death of his more popular hero companion, a super-second-banana decides to try to pick up where the hero left off.

In any case, JMS’s foray into production is the realization of yet another dream of the comic industry: creator-controlled success. I think no matter what happens, this is probably a pinnacle moment in the life of J. Michael Straczynski. It’s the dream that all creators share and it means opportunities to a lot of established and up-and-coming comic creators.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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