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You’ll Believe a Man Can Take a Sabbatical: J. Michael Straczynski Leaves Monthly Comics

J. Michael Straczynski has announced via DC’s The Source that he will no longer script his monthly Superman and Wonder Woman titles, citing the need to fast-track sequels to the successful Superman: Earth One graphic novel. The departure will cut short Straczynski’s work on the “Grounded” storyline halfway through its run, which is slated to continue for a year. Vertigo’s iZombie and Cinderella writer Chris Roberson will take over Superman with issue #707, and The Darkness writer Phil Hester will script Wonder Woman from issue #605. Both writers will be working from Straczynski’s story notes and outlines so that in-progress storylines will reach their pre-determined conclusions.

Stracyznski had previously cited health problems as the reason behind delays on his Superman run, including pneumonia and bronchitis. The writer also says he will take a one-to-five-year “sabbatical” from writing monthly comics to focus on work in the original graphic novel format.

“I took on the Superman and Wonder Woman monthlies on the theory that I’d have time to script the full 12 issues before bounding back onto Earth One. But when the huge numbers started coming in on Earth One, and the need to fastrack the next volumes became evident in order to keep the momentum going, I knew there was no way in god’s green earth that I could write that and the monthlies simultaneously. Since DC has had my notes and outlines from day one on both titles, so they’re still my stories, it makes sense to let Chris and Phil keep going from the story beats I’ve set up. I’ll dive in on occasion as needed for important story points. It’s still my story, I’m involved in both books, and they’re going to continue in the direction we set up. I’m looking forward to seeing what Chris and Phil have in store.”

“Meanwhile, I’m taking full advantage of the situation to take a one- to five-year sabbatical from writing monthlies in order to go exclusively into writing graphic novels like Superman Earth One and Samaritan X, along with the occasional high-visibility minseries. I think that’s where the business is going, and creatively, limited series and graphic novels have always been my strong suit in that they let me tell cohesive stories with a beginning, middle and end. They can also be written and drawn before anything is ever announced or solicited, as was the case with Earth One, which has been one of the greatest and most creatively rewarding experience of my career. At some point I’m sure I’ll come back to monthlies – it’s just too darn much fun – but for the next one to five years, it’s strictly GNs and miniseries, with Superman Earth One being the first priority, followed by Samaritan X.”

With respect to the Earth One sequel, it’s too early to announce any specifics, but DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio expressed enthusiasm for the work of Straczynski and artist Shane Davis, and the importance on maintaining the creative team.

“We were so pleased with the response to SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE that it made sense to fast-track a sequel, and we definitely wanted to go back to the same amazing creative team. We knew we had to make some creative adjustments to the two ongoing books Joe was involved with to ensure his stories reached their natural conclusion and to also guarantee their arrival in stores in a timely manner. We firmly believe this plan is the strongest solution – it guarantees a fitting conclusion to two of the most historic and important storylines to ever involve Superman and Wonder Woman, while locking in another epic SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE adventure.”

Superman: Earth One debuted at #1 on The New York Times’ bestseller list for graphic novels.

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