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Interview: J. Michael Straczynski on TWILIGHT ZONE and Dynamite 10th Anniversary Sale

JMS talks about his take on the Twilight Zone as well as digital comics.

In case you missed our post yesterday, Dynamite and ComiXology are currently having a 50% off sale on all Dynamite comics (before 2/11/14) for a limited time (seriously, head over THERE now...or maybe right after you read this).

With J. Michael Straczynski's new TWILIGHT ZONE series, we're getting a chance to see those type of stories in the comic format. You can check out the first two issues through this sale if you haven't already picked them up. Here's an interview with JMS on the series and more.

QUESTION: It's Dynamite's 10th Anniversary, and you're first series with them, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, has received overwhelming positive reviews, with issue #2 just having hit last week. How are you finding your first project with Dynamite?

J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI: It's been great fun. Nick [Barrucci] is ridiculously supportive of his writers, and creates a terrific in which to work. I'm very happy with how the book has come out.

QUESTION: Following an incredible run at Marvel, and then DC, you're main home is now Image, with multiple titles. What made it viable for you to work on TWILIGHT ZONE at Dynamite?

JMS: I wanted to. I think we all make time and space for the things that matter to us, and the opportunity to work with Nick on something as iconic as Twilight Zone was simply too amazing to pass by. So one makes the window, then dives through it.

QUESTION: You're a huge fan of the series and Rod Serling. It's well documented. You've written for the TV series, short stories, the magazine, and a single story for Now Comics. Many years later, what continues to draw you back to the series?

JMS: I think there must be something in the ether, because no matter what I do or where I go, every year or two something comes at me from either the Rod side or the Twilight Zone side. (There's another project involving Rod that's just come my way, which I can't talk about yet...but again, there it is, and there he is.) Beyond the vagaries of fate, for me the main attraction is the history and legacy of that title, and the structure of anthology storytelling. There's so little opportunity for such storytelling right now, so the chance to play in that sandbox is far too tempting to ignore.

QUESTION: You've set this up as a maxi-series. It seems that this is a better way to tell the story to truly engage fans. The single story/single issue format doesn't allow for fans to really get to know/love/hate characters to feel the depth of the story. This has changed that dichotomy. What inspired you to go in this direction?

JMS: The prototypical Twilight Zone story is one in which you emotionally engage with the character -- whether he's a good guy or a bad guy -- then over time see terrible or wonderful or terrifying things happen to him (or her). It's a gradual slide into something larger. What folks need to remember is that the original Twilight Zone was broken up into acts: each act ended on a cliffhanger, there was a break, then the next act. What we're doing is thus not really any different than what was done with the series. Each issue of the book is one act of the story; four acts per arc, tracking pretty close to the average TV episode.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on digital comics as a creator and as a fan?

JMS: I see their utility but I don't think we've yet figured it out yet on an artistic level. Right now it's being treated as another distribution platform, stapling Object A onto System B without quite making it an organic part of the system. What do I mean by that? When film moved from silent movies to talkies, they brought all these playwrights out of New York to write scripts and give it a sense of dramatic legitimacy. (They did much the same thing in the oft-cited Golden Age of Television.) If you look at those very early films, they're practically just stage plays committed to film. It took directors a while to figure out how to use the medium of film in new and dramatic and compelling ways that were completely outside the purview of live theater...instead of simply stapling a stage play onto a film delivery system. A similar paradigm shift hasn't yet taken place in the world of digital comics.

QUESTION: What role do you see digital comics playing in the macro of the comics industry?

JMS: That will be determined and defined entirely by the answer to the previous question. As the early film-makers knew the language of playwriting and had yet to invent the language of cinema, we know the language of comics and have not yet invented the language of digital storytelling.

Head on over to ComiXology (click HERE) to take advantage of the sale before it's over. Here's an extended look at THE TWILIGHT ZONE #1.

3 Comments
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Been really enjoying it so far but I didn't know it was only a maxi :(