Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski was my latest binge read, and it is difficult to accurately review this book. I picked it up from the library because the little blurb on the front said “from the writer of Babylon 5.” That lead me to read the sub-title, My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood with stops along the way at murder, madness, mayhem, movie stars, cults, slums, sociopaths, and war crimes.
What a mouthful.
But, for someone who remade both Marvel (The Amazing Spiderman), and DC (Superman Grounded), Straczynksi didn’t write this book to be just a “here’s my life” biography. He wrote a book to uncover the secrets of his past and put to rest his own personal battles with evil.
I could give you a synopsis of the book, but I think that it is worth reading on your own.
But, I will give you the applicable actions we can take from the book:
Becoming Superman: Art Creates Value
I discovered in the reading of this that Deep Space 9, a Star Trek series, was completely ripped off of of Straczynski’s Babylon 5.
But, most people who love science fiction love both shows. Because even though they have they same basic starting point (space station in neutral territory led by a war hero with a strong female second in command, with a casino), they wildly diverge in their story arcs, character development, and world-building. DS 9 was within a larger universe (Star Trek) and Babylon 5 created it’s own.
At the end of the day, Straczynski’s dedication to his own art created a science fiction show that has become a classic in its own right, and his ability to inspire others with great storytelling lead to a deeper development of the leading American science fiction series, Star Trek.
Moral Law Always Has Consequences
Without giving too much away, many of J. Michael Straczynski’s family’s choices for evil in their past colored their entire lives. As he writes about their secrets in the climax of the major plot of the book (dealing with the monster’s of his family’s past), this book became the tool he used to root out the sins of the past and expose them for the world to see.
They were not his sins but he had to deal with their consequences. Even though his family members were never tried by a civil or criminal court, he shows throughout the book that the consequences of their actions were internalized and showed up consistently in relationships, in finances, and in the fears of their waking hours.
Writing is a Beautiful Thing
As a marketer, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that my writing is creating something. Does “The 5 Things to Make Your ERP More Efficient” really impact people and create something that will change the world?
Not in the ways I want. But, it is practicing the art of words.
We tend to think of people as one type of writer only but Becoming Superman shows that a writer is an artist who can inhabit multiple worlds, and more importantly, industries.
He wrote comic books, animation scripts, tv scripts, and movies. And now I am reading his autobiography that reads like a novel. Oh, and he also wrote novels.
This book was an interesting historical read and an inspiration to continue growing in my craft as a writer.
If you have time and love sci-fi, or mysteries, or children overcoming poverty stories, I highly recommend Becoming Superman.