Interview With Brad Meltzer, page 2
one of the interview
the slings and arrows of
outrageous good fortune...
okay, mostly arrows.
You've got a film adaptation of your first novel, a television
series coming out, The Zero Game has already sold to film,
you've got Identity Crisis coming out from DC, and you've
got a kid. When exactly are you going to sleep in 2004?
All this sugar is just good for me and my system.
not like it's curing cancer. We've just had a really lucky
year. Things that we put in motion two or three years ago
happen to be going now. It makes us look far more organized
than we actually are.
and I keep joking about it. This TV show we started working
on two and a half years ago. The fact that we got an okay
on the pilot this week, right as the book is coming out and
all that…it looks good. But I wrote Identity Crisis
six months ago now. Obviously, in taking the art, and waiting
for everyone to react and everything to come in…well, it's
we had some sort of master plan and we could stroke our goatees
and pet our evil cat and do the whole James Bond villain thing,
but no. In truth, we're just the right suckers in the right
How involved are you in the film projects?
If you mean by "involved" that I get a phone call once in
a while, then I'm very very involved. I'm not a producer on
either of the films. On the TV show, I'm a producer, and I'm
an executive producer on another show that we're working on.
It just depends on the project and how much they want me involved.
no ego about it. If they want me, they've got me. If they
don't, thanks very much and we'll see you in another time
Hollywood always is, I'll believe any of them when I see it.
Just because they pay a lot of money, it doesn't mean they're
making a movie.
that doesn't stop my mom from picking out what she's going
to wear to the Oscars, but that's how it goes.
Can you tell me what the television series is going to be
Jack and Bobby? It's about a young boy who's sixteen
years old, and he has a brother who's fourteen years old,
and one of them will grow up to be the President of the United
States. But he doesn't know it now. It is literally The
West Wing meets The Wonder Years.
basically it. There's a kid right now…you go into a supermarket
and you see a kid in the aisle screaming, wanting candy, throwing
a tantrum…that kid could be the next President. We just don't
know. So the whole TV show is about that theory.
now, there's a sixteen year old kid who's going to be President.
We don't know who he is, but obviously, he's going through
tough times right now. Some good, some bad, some awful, some
terrific, some terrible. This is his story - the boy before
he becomes a man.
When you're writing, is there a moment when you think, wow,
this would make a great movie?
I wish I could say I don't think about Hollywood at all. But
I'd be a liar. Every writer at some point thinks in their
head, my stuff is better than that crap. You can't help it.
There's so much crap out there.
you do try to write for Hollywood, that's a disaster. That's
a trainwreck to me. I write what I like, and I believe that
if you love it, it will show on the page. It will work. If
I try and write for what I think Hollywood will buy, two years
ago I would have done a giant parody, because that's what
was selling then: parody. Two years before that, I would have
done a giant earthquake movies, because giant natural disaster
movies were selling then.
you're taking two years to write a book, you can't predict
the future. You just really have to do your best and write
what you love.
Back to your comics work. In Archer's Quest, you added a stunning
and moving twist to Green Arrow's character, that could be
taken or left by future writers. Did you do that intentionally,
and if you were to return to writing Green Arrow, what would
you do with it?
I did that very intentionally. I said to Bob Schreck, I want
to leave Green Arrow and Oliver Queen different than how I
first found him. And as I wrote in the introduction to Archer's
Quest, he nodded gracefully and happily ignored my pretentious
truth was that I did want to say something about the character
and do something different to him, not just for it's own sake,
but something that really got to the core of the character.
happens with Connor, to me, makes every future conversation
with him completely black in its heart. It takes every nice
moment and gives a layer of ruin to it. That's what I love
have to deal with it in every issue? No. Do I think anyone
should go in right now and have him say, "oh, my gosh, Dad,
you knew. You always knew, you bastard, I hate you." No.
(Winick) and I have had conversations about this. And I think
the right writer will deal with it at the right time. I'm
a big fan of you don't need to answer everything at the end
of the issue. There are plenty of good things that are good
and quiet, and they should stay that way.
You've added actual subtext.
You'll see in Identity Crisis; it does the same thing.
It's just what I loved about comics when I was little.
big fan, I'll say this right now, of writing story arcs. I
like a beginning, a middle, and an end. I don't like "creatures
of the week" that are just hit someone, punch him around and
get out of there. There's a time and a place for them, but
I don't like every issue being that.
when you write for the trade paperback, you lose some of the
bigger picture, because you're just thinking about those six
issues. In those six issues, I always tried to think, what
else is going to be done with this character? What else do
we have to say about him in the future? Where can it go from
the Archer's Quest is a starting point. It's not just self-contained.
I knew full well that Judd was going to be writing it after
me, that it was going to be in the hands of one of my closest
say that some of the things are going to be dealt with fairly
How much editorial mandate were you given when you came onboard
You know, it's funny. I think people always assume that somehow
DC has this giant invisible hand that presses the stories
into place. It's so much more organic than that.
the murderer is somewhere ON THIS SATELLITE!
and Mike Carlin approached me and said, here's this one character
that we want to do something with. I basically went back for
a month, couldn't come up with anything interesting, and finally
was going to say no.
in a final conversation, we had this real breakthrough. It
all happened from there. It wasn't like it was a grand scheme.
They didn't even put the word "crisis" on it until after the
thing was written.
let's be clear, is a marketing ploy. The only reason that
thing is called Identity Crisis is because that will
sell more comic books.
to have that, because only a fool would not want to try and
sell their work. But at the same time it wasn't like let's
start this and try to change everything. It just so happened
the story I wrote worked out.
of handing it in monthly, because I don't work monthly, I
handed in the first four issues together. Then I handed in
the last three. They had the entire run within a couple of
weeks of each other, because I just sat down and wrote the
they read it, that's when they said, oh, man. You've done
something really different here. We've got to get attention
for this. That's when they started doing something much bigger
The art we've seen so far definitely features Elongated Man
front and center. I don't know if that's the one character
DiDio and Carlin had approached you with or not, but the big
rumor is that he's scheduled to die. Without confirming or
denying that, can you defend the existence of Elongated Man
in a Plastic Man dominated DCU?
I can absolutely defend that. And you will see that in Identity
Crisis. You will see my take on the answer to that question.
That's the better way to see it. If I answered that question,
it would reveal everything.
see. I love mysteries, and I'd be a fool if I let this one
get out of my hands.
people are really going to be surprised.
that, Brad had to go to another signing. He is on tour around
the country, signing The Zero Game in bookstores. Check his
website for the dates and locations. Even better, check
it to read
the first chapter!