Arthur Byron Cover Makes the Stars Rise (

By:Chris Wyatt
Date: Sunday, August 11, 2002

When BABYLON 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was looking for a novel writer to adapt his comic book series RISING STARS he asked his longtime friend, the SF literary giant Harlan Ellison, for advice. The two put their heads together and came up with one name: Arthur Byron Cover.

Most writers would go on a major ego trip if they learned that two names as big as Straczynski and Ellison had personally selected them for a writing assignment; but Cover remains humble about it.

"Yeah, it was very nice of them, but then, I've been friends with both of them for a long time, so it's not that big a deal," says Cover.

The Nebula award-nominated Cover, whose works include diverse books like 1976's PLATYPUS OF DOOM and 1988's hilarious PLANETFALL, relates how he met the legendary Ellison:

Arthur Byron Cover's PLANETFALL

"Eons ago, when Nixon was president, I graduated from college and since my parents knew I had no skills whatsoever, they paid my way to go to a Clarion SF writers workshop which, that summer, was being held in New Orleans. That's where I met Harlan. I made my first professional sale there to an anthology that Harlan was editing, THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS, which, of course, still hasn't been published. Harlan has this huge file of stories for the last in his series of DANGEROUS VISIONS books, but none of them have been published. Or if they have it's been without his permission."

The Clarion workshop changed his life in several ways. For one thing, it's what made him decide to move to his current home: Los Angeles.

"My roommate there [at Clarion] was Gustav Hasford who we all thought was the worst writer there, but he went on to write THE SHORT TIMERS which was the novel that the movie FULL METAL JACKET was based on. So I moved out to LA with Gus and we were roommates here too. Also, I lived in Harlan's house some because he used to take in itenerate writers some. He always had houseguests."

It was while in LA that Cover first encountered Straczynski.

"I met Joe pretty much through osmosis. He was working in animation at the time. I think he was at Filmation, or maybe he was at DIC. Joe enlisted the aid of my wife and myself to help organize a benefit for Harlan, to help with the legal fees from this frivolous law suit he was fighting at the time. Then when Joe was working on [the animated TV series] THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS he gave my wife and I a brake and we wrote two episodes for him."

Cover relates that there were unique details involved in engaging in a work based on the writing of Straczynski.


"Joe took the style that he learned in television and brought it over to comics. You'll notice that in the first several issues of RISING STARS a lot of really important events happen in flashbacks, or they happen off-stage. It's like a lot of episodes of BABYLON 5, they didn't have all the money they needed to show the things that were happening, but they could always have characters talking about it."

Look for more information on Arthur Byron Cover and his adaptation of RISING STARS in the October issue of CINESCAPE Magazine.

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