Thursday, May 23, 2013

Interview with J. Michael Straczynski

Straczynski signs copies of "Ten Grand" at Yesteryear Comics / Photo - Furr
J. Michael Straczynski is a man of many firsts. Back when the Internet was unknown to everyone except a tiny number of techies, geeks, wealthy dilettantes and nerds, he was the first showrunner (Hollywood-speak for a television show’s executive producer who handles day-to-day operations) to go online and interact with fans.

He was the first – and will likely ever be the only — scriptwriter to write 92 out of 110 episodes of a show, his brilliant creation “Babylon 5.” B5 was the first television show meant to run a certain number of seasons, five, with a definite beginning, middle, and end, and included dynamic storylines the characters and multiple, overlapping story arcs. Long form television writing is now common thanks to Straczynski.  He did it first.

He is probably the first journalist to cross over into a successful television career, likely the first journalist and television writer to cross over into mainstream comic book writing, and absolutely the first television and comic-writing journalist ever to become a major Hollywood screenwriter.

Other “firsts” include developing his own comic book line (Joe’s Comics), his own multimedia studio (Studio JMS), directing his first movie and creating an original series for Netflix.

The word “first” applies to Straczynski in many ways, including as a fiery, intelligent defender of the First Amendment.

From 2009 to 2010, students, faculty members, Sun journalists, and concerned citizens fought with a corrupt Southwestern College administration and governing board to keep the First Amendment Freedoms of Speech, Assembly, and the Press alive on the campus. In 2010, when the administration attempted to strangle the newspaper by tying its purse strings around its throat, Straczynski responded by undermining the administration the best way possible – financially.

It was definitely the first time that had happened.

And now, for the first time, an unbridled, warp speed first person Q&A interview with the 2013 Southwestern College Honorary Degree recipient:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Poster Vandalism Investigated as Hate Crime

Vandalism of a poster inviting students to a meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance is being investigated as a hate crime. Club members found a handmade poster hanging near the campus pool vandalized with disparaging anti-gay words just before spring break.

Tammy Nguyen, vice president of the GSA, said the member drew purple hearts around the hateful words then brought it to Nguyen’s attention.
“When I got over there, I saw people staring at it,” Nguyen said. “They had nothing to say. They just looked at each other, then back at the poster.”

The poster was taken down and brought to the club membership’s attention after classes resumed following spring break. Nguyen said a lot of the members and the advisors had something to say about it. The Gay-Straight Alliance, an ASO-sponsored organization, exists to provide a safe place for LGBT students and their allies to meet and raise awareness of the issues surrounding them. One of those is the issue of anti-gay sentiment and harassment.

Diana Cortes is the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance.

“It’s frustrating,” she said. “We’re on a college campus where people should be grown up. They should be mature enough to know things aren’t high school. They should realize that this was a childish thing to do.”

Alan Wade, one of the club advisors, said it turned his stomach whenever he hears of things like this occurring.

“I think it’s sad and that is says more about those who wrote on our sign than it does us,” he said.

Nguyen said this kind of reaction was unusual in recent years.

“I’ve been in GSA for over three years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “I’ve seen our posters torn down, I’ve seen other things, but not this.”