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Creator / J. Michael Straczynski

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Straczynski on the set of Babylon 5's War Room circa 1996.

"The universe considers me its personal cat toy. Do you have ANY idea what it's like to go through life covered in cosmic cat spit?"
— JMS in IRC, 1/22/97
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Joseph Michael Straczynski (born July 17, 1954) is a go-to name for memorable, witty, or far-reaching storylines. Hand him something lame and he'll somehow spin it into something special.

In 1994, he miraculously got to make something entirely of his own creation, a cult space opera called Babylon 5. B5 was supposed to be much bigger in scope, but budget limits necessitated a move to confined setting (i.e a space station) which became the focal point of intergalactic diplomacy and war. He tried shopping it to Paramount, but they weren't interested—though his bible was allegedly the blueprint for the then-upcoming Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DS9 wouldn't carve out its own identity until roughly three seasons in. And even then, similarities between B5 and DS9 persisted all the way up to their respective finales. Conveniently, Paramount aren't required to pay JMS anything for this. This is still a bone of contention between the B5 and DS9 fans, since the latter is rightly-considered one of the better Trek spin-offs—largely thanks to ripping off JMS' original (though obscure) creations.

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Afterward, he tried to realize the grander ambitions of B5 with the aftershow Crusade, but it crashed and burned due to network bickering. Jeremiah was a fresh idea—but JMS was persona non grata with the networks by that point. He'd done everything to earn their ire: Retconning Janine's makeover in Ghostbusters as the result of spiritual possession. Killing off network-mandated additions to his cast. Tossing B5-trademarked teddy bears out of airlocks to protest attempts to merchandise his show. (That is not joke. This actually closed out an episode.) Concocting loopholes in stories he was forced to write so that they could be overwritten later.

He then started writing for comic books, where he had more mainstream acclaim, the notable examples being listed below.

His first name is Joseph, so his friends call him Joe; he has stated that "Straczynski" is a name which would "frighten cats." Professionally, he goes by J. Michael so as to allow people to slowly learn how to pronounce "Straczynski." First word: one letter, easy; second word: Michael, two syllables but easy enough; and then...the leap! Fans generally know and refer to him just by his initials, which is how he signs his emails and Usenet posts. For the record, his last name is supposed to be pronounced "Strat-itch-in-sky", from the Polish name Straczyński; his family used to spell it with an "ń" rather than "n", producing a sound related to that of "ñ" (as in Español).

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He spent some time in a cult while in college, and was once mugged and left near-death. Both experiences heavily inform his stories. In 2019 he published his autobiography Becoming Superman, revealing for the first time the abuse he suffered from his father, a former Nazi who forced JMS to wear his old uniform in an attempt to toughen him up. In retrospect, this also colors a lot of his work. Because of his father's refusal to let him see anything resembling a competent doctor (or spend any money for one), some of his quirks went undetected for a long time. Joe describes putting on a classmate's glasses and discovering that 20/20 vision is a thing which exists. Later self-diagnoses included Asperger's Syndrome and PTSD.

He shares a birthday with David Hasselhoff and Phyllis Diller, as well as an exact birth date with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Film credits

JMS' TV credits

Comic books contributions include:


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