At the San Diego Comic-Con spotlight on J Michael Straczynski, the versatile writer best known for screenplays like Changeling, Thor, and World War Z, television shows like Babylon 5, Jeremiah, and Sense8, and comic books like Amazing Spider-Man and Thor, discussed a lot of his work—past, present, and future. He also pulled back the veil on his time as a comic book writer, explaining why he began to write fewer comics in recent years.
He started cutting back after noticing problems with his eyes—particularly after long periods of concentration.
He already knew he was near-sighted, but he learned that he also suffered from cataracts and Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy. This posed a predicament. Under normal circumstances, cataracts are easily treatable, but not if he received the full corneal transplant he needed—not to mention the potential for all manner of nasty side effects.
Straczynski chose to wait for treatment—for ten years. But as his vision worsened, his writing output decreased. In 2006 he called Marvel's Joe Quesada and DC's Dan DiDio to explain his situation.
Two years ago a new treatment came along that didn't require the full cornea transplant. The new treatment rakes the eye and replaces the layer of the cornea that's not working, making it possible to also treat the cataracts at the same time. A year-and-a-half ago, he had his first surgery.
Now he sees better than he has at any time in his life—20/20 in his right eye and 20/25 in his left. As a result, he's increased his writing output dramatically.
But he's not writing more comics.
He talked about how he sometimes reaches a point in life where he feels like he's finished certain things. It's as if his brain tells him at some point that he's now good at doing something, so it's time to move on and find a new challenge. That's how it's been with journalism, writing cartoons, television, feature films, and, now, comics.
After his surgery, he initially thought that with the prospects of a Rising Stars movie and a Midnight Nation TV show, he could relaunch his Joe's Comics imprint and write three or four comics a month, but instead, his brain decided that he's done with comics. It's time to move on. Time to find something new that he doesn't know how to do as well.
He told publishers Dan DiDio at DC Comics and Eric Stephenson at Image a year ago of his decision, and he is possibly finishing up a couple of things, one for DC and another for Graphic India.
But those lingering projects notwithstanding, his panel at San Diego Comic-Con was his last day in the comic book industry.
He's now moving on to writing novels and plays.
More as we hear it, I'm sure.
Thanks to Greg Carpenter.