A Hugo Award Nominee!
Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman!
“J. Michael Straczynski is, without question, one of the greatest science fiction minds of our time.” -- Max Brooks (World War Z)
For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics. Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.
In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5, Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.
Joe's early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.
To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.
Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life. It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.
Straczynski, a prolific comics, television, and film writer, delivers a frank memoir that's equally harrowing and triumphant. Raised by a depressed, battered mother and violently abusive, alcoholic father, Straczynski found in comic books, first, refuge from his dysfunctional family, and then inspiration to pursue a writing career. He particularly admired Superman (whose adventures he would eventually write), finding in the character an ethical core that "meant everything to a young kid trapped in a family that operated without any sort of moral compass." Though Straczynski's anger (at his father, most notably) comes across as still raw, he balances it with heartfelt appreciations of colleagues such as Harlan Ellison, who, "despite his reputation for crankiness," was "one of the most gracious souls I have ever known." He also offers tantalizing looks at behind-the-scenes creative battles. While Straczynski could do nothing about an executive mandate that his animated show She-Ra, Princess of Power's title character be not warlike but "maternal, nurturing, and nonthreatening to male authority figures," on the later SF series Babylon 5, he achieved his ambition of telling, over the series' entire course, a "single overarching story with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end" a television first. Fans of this and other achievements in Straczynski's career will find much to enjoy here.