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.
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About the Author
J. Michael Straczynski has had one of the most varied careers of any American writer, penning hundreds of hours of television, comic books for Marvel and DC that have sold over 13 million copies, and movies that have grossed over a billion dollars.
Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book. Among his numerous literary awards are the Newbery and Carnegie medals, and the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner awards. Originally from England, he now lives in America.
Table of Contents
Introduction Neil Gaiman xi
Chapter 1 We Were Told 1
Chapter 2 Strange Relations 17
Chapter 3 Faster Than a Speeding Bullet 29
Chapter 4 Death as a Lifestyle 35
Chapter 5 Pigeon Dinner with a Slice of Watermelon 39
Chapter 6 The First One's Always Free 49
Chapter 7 The Face Behind the Mask 65
Chapter 8 The Wind Took Away His Name 73
Chapter 9 Being Invisible 81
Chapter 10 Targets of Opportunity 89
Chapter 11 Patricide by Proxy 103
Chapter 12 Discovering Words, Worlds, and Estrogen 115
Chapter 13 The God Thing 131
Chapter 14 The Weed of Evil Bears Strange Fruit 145
Chapter 15 The God Thing, Redux 155
Chapter 16 Blood in the Street 169
Chapter 17 When the Light at the End of the Tunnel Isn't a Train (For a Change) 183
Chapter 18 The Big Con 207
Chapter 19 God, Death, and Harlan Ellison 223
Chapter 20 An Unexpected Journey to Toon-Town 233
Chapter 21 Who Ya Gonna Call? 249
Chapter 22 Captain, My Captain 269
Chapter 23 Into the Zone 279
Chapter 24 Blowing Up the World 285
Chapter 25 Things I Learned Dancing with the Fatman 295
Chapter 26 Paging Jessica Fletcher 303
Chapter 27 Boarding Babylon 323
Chapter 28 The Christmas Ambush 333
Chapter 29 Swingin' with Spider-Man 355
Chapter 30 Lost in the Tall Grass with Jeremiah 367
Chapter 31 What Was I Thinking? 389
Chapter 32 Being Superman 407
Chapter 33 The Truth Unearthed 413
Chapter 34 Selah 433
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I received this book in the mail I didn’t know what to think about, I hadn’t officially requested it but I try to review all books that come my way. By reading the blurb on the back of the book I was interested but still didn’t really know who J. Michael Straczynski was and kinda thought this would be another biography about how this famous person just struggled with life and are now rich. Boy was I wrong. The first pages sucked me in with the story of a young boy that grew up rough with some of the worst people I can think about. The constant moving and abuse was hard to read the brutal honesty of it. But that is just the beginning. Not having friends, constantly on edge about what is going to happen next and where he was going to be dumped made me sympathize with Straczynski. All of this helped shape him for his many trials and for Hollywood. Watching Straczynski rise about the beginnings and fight through everything until his film career and beyond is nothing short of inspirational. This is a wonderful read. Difficult in some places but very encouraging. No matter what Straczynski faced he kept fighting and kept working. I learned so much that I have a new found appreciation for J. Michael Straczynski. What an amazing individual!! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read it and post an honest review.
This was one of the best books I have ever read ....fiction and non fiction included ! I highly reccomend this amazing book, It was the only biography I have everread that kept me readimg long into.the night. I couldn't put it down I wasn't familiar with his work but his story is fascinating and powerful .I quote someone on twitter who said" read it ..and be thankful we have people in the world who can triumph over impossible situations and bring joy and happiness into this world"
In this book, author J. Michael Stracyznski (JMS to his fans) tells the story of his family and his life. Starting with his grandparents, he gives us some background before telling us about his childhood under an abusive father and a distant mother. In between moving every few months to stay ahead of creditors, JMS discovered ways to escape via TV shows, comic books, and science fiction. As he discovered the power of words, he vowed to become a writer. That desire eventually lead him to a career in comic books and in Hollywood on such things as He-Man; She-Ra; The Real Ghostbusters; Babylon 5; Murder, She Wrote; Sense8; and the movies Changeling, Thor, and World War Z. I picked up this book because I am an obsessive Babylon 5 fan. Those picking it up for lots of Hollywood behind the scenes stories will be disappoint, although we do get some in the second half. Instead, it is more a story of his family, their secrets, and how they impacted his life. At times, it is a hard read. JMS’s life for his first 20 plus years was not easy or fun. But, ultimately, this is a story of triumph as he works to overcome his baggage. It is a powerful story that proves where you start doesn’t have to be where you finish if you are willing to take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and your choices, something we need more of in our society today. I think this book will change my view of Babylon 5 the next time I watch it, something I need to do soon as I think knowing the man behind the story will make some things mean more and be even more powerful. This is not light reading, but it is powerful reading and worth the time spent in the book.
This book was received as an ARC from HarperCollins Publishers - Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I was so intrigued from the start to read this book because it's main focus was the original TV show which I remember watching a long time ago as a child. The episode that Straczynski reflects on in the episode I remember clearly and thought it was the sweetest thing he will ever do for anyone and when I read that in the book, I got very excited! I am a huge fan of entertainment biographies because they give you first insight of behind the scenes work and they are always understand expected and interesting. I also found his story very inspiring of how he started with nothing and with hard work and dedication you can always achieve your dreams. We will consider this book for our biography collection at the library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
I received a copy of Becoming Superman from HarperCollins Publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Wow, this book was exceptional. The beginning was horrifying but somehow entrancing in a way that all survivor stories are. Joe Straczynski made a choice and by Grabthars hammer he stuck with it. The raw determination espoused is nothing short of inspiring. I don't think I can put into words how much this book touched me and I am so glad to have read it.