Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SDCC 2013 - JMS Wins Icon Award

J. Michael Stracznski
Almost every year at SDCC, I manage to catch the spotlight panel on J. Michael Stracznski. At the beginning of the session, JMS was awarded SDCC's Icon Award and he gave a short "state of JMS" address. Since I had just seen him at the Image Expo earlier this month, the contrast in the audience was really interesting. JMS's Comic-Con session is usually a free-form affair, this year he grabbed a wireless microphone and wandered the room responding to audience questions much like he was interviewing contestants for a game show. Many of the questions at SDCC were about Babylon 5, in contrast to the comics only orientation of the fans at the more formal Image Expo session, who only had specific questions about Joe's Comics and other writing projects.

The answer to most of the Babylon 5 questions was that the series is in limbo. When the series was produced, HD/Blu-ray was not common, and none of the special effects were created in a way that they would transfer over to HD without redoing everything. A documentary about the fans and legacy of Babylon 5 is in production, and there is a video of the recent Babylon 5 20th anniversary cast reunion at Phoenix ComiCon (full session). He also talked about Sense8, the new series he is developing for NetFlix with the Wachowskis.

JMS gets Icon Award.
Patricia Tallman, CEO of Studio JMS.

JMS is an amazingly successful and prolific writer. I seek out his session every year just to hear him answer questions about the writing process. To paraphrase:

"Get out of your own way. Don't tie yourself in knots trying to fit a particular style. Writers talk on the page in their own natural voice, because your own voice is unique to your point of view and experience."

"I ask 4 questions: Who is the character? What do they really want? How far will they go to get it? Who will try to stop them & what will they go through to do it?"

Every year he ends on an encouraging note, not give in to the tyranny of reasonable voices and create good work. Borrowing from another beloved Sci-Fi film, it boils down to "Never give up, Never surrender!"

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