Friday, December 29, 2006

JLA Insanity



Yes, issue 5 is out. But the real news?

This is why I love being a comic fan.

Starro cookies!

Happy new year to all!

Love,

B

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Meltzer Loves Rocky Balboa

I loved the first Rocky. I loved Rocky II. I even loved Rocky III. (Mr. T AND Hulk Hogan? And Apollo trains him? And Eye of the Tiger? And a superhero ending with a fight that never was? I'm IN!).

And yes, Rockys IV and V were piles of crap on the levels of Superman III and IV.

But the new Rocky VI? Rocky Balboa? It. Is. Amazing.

I said it, I'm not afraid to say it, and I'm not even couching it with, "It's good for a Rocky movie."

It's a great movie. Stallone (I still barely believe I type these words) is writing from a personal place here. He's not writing about Rocky. He's writing about himself. About anyone getting older, and worrying that they peaked, and terrified they'll never see success come again. Plus, I'm a sap for father/son stuff.

So there. Rather than be all high and mighty and tell you how wonderful some art house is, I'm siding with what's actually good. Rocky Balboa. No joke.

I can't wear your colors, Apollo.

B

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Whatever You Celebrate

Happy Holidays to all here -- especially those of you who are part of the true family we've built here. This year wouldn't have been possible without you (and if you're reading this here, I mean you. Yes, you), and I hope you know how lucky Cori and I feel to have you in our lives. Some of you I know for a long time now. And it really does matter. It always has.

Communities are way underrated, and coming here every day to see you, or a comment, or a news story, or even those who sent me http://www.blacksheep-themovie.com/, all of it makes a difference. Yes, I get to write the stories. But you're the ones whose feedback I listen to most. Again, always have, always will.

So have a happy and healthy and safe new year.

Sending lots of love your way.

Brad

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mini Me

Nothing more needs to be said. I love this so so much in such a sad way. Thanks to Andrew aka Lt. Commander Gancsos who built them -- especially the headless and multi-colored robots. My hero.



(click on the image to view it at full size)

And don't forget, another issue of JLA comes out in a week -- that's 2 this month. Ed and the crew killed themselves for it. Plus, we'll put the real cover to issue 5 up soon. Amazo? Please...

B

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Crap Worth Buying

Whether we like it or not, 'tis the season to buy crap for people. So, in the name of good cheer, here's something that I think is actually cool to give people -- and you won't see these in the mall or at Abercrombie or on that guy you hate who bothers you and smells like white-out.

And I don't say it for the self-promotion. The JLA shirts don't even have my name anywhere on them. I say it because ALL the profits go to The Hero Initiative (formerly "ACTOR").

We don't make a dollar -- but your favorite older creators get the funds instead. And that's cool by me. And that's how we really support the industry.

So go to: www.cafepress.com/bradmeltzer and shop away.

Btw, Paul Dini helped design the front-and-back Zatanna one.

Enjoy.

Brad

Monday, December 04, 2006

Audio Me

Scott Brick has been my "voice" for the past four novels. He's the guy you hear when you buy the audio versions. It's an odd thing, hearing someone else do you. I never felt the first two people we had sounded very me (imagine the ego to think that). But Scott just...it's right. Like seeing someone else do an imitation of you that just nails you so perfectly, flaws and all.

Regardless, just found out that The Book of Fate got an Earphones Award. The Award is all Scott. So let's clap-clap-clap for him. And a bag of Milano cookies for him as well.

Listen. He's cool. And makes me sound tough.

B

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vegas, Bubbie!

I'm boarding on a plane to Vegas right now. Leaving from Florida. And the mix of lawlessness of Vegas combining with the Sunshine State...the swirl of dressed-up leather-jacketed people all looking like they're ready to hit the strip clubs...it's Con-Air come alive, but with more fake breasts and foursomes of guys from the set of Entourage.

Ever single group has a Turtle.

Oooh, there goes a group of 4 Turtles passing by me right now. All four with crooked baseball caps, but each one tilted differently. And just saw this woman in tight jeans picking out a wedgie, pretending she was adjusting her pocket.

I share because I love you.

B

Win $5,000 while writing about The Zero Game

For those who didn't know, The Zero Game was picked by Florida to be the book that the state reads for their Read Together Florida program. One of my favorite parts is the High School Essay Contest we put together. You go to high school...you write the best essay...you get $5,000 sugar-smacks. Keen. And considering I would've killed for some financial help in high school, this one truly hits home. I entered one essay contest in high school. I won 2nd place. And lost to my girlfriend. Suckola.

The point is, the deadline for the essay contest has been extended until January 31, 2007. So see below and good luck.

http://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-4108/jressay_deadline.pdf

Brad

Monday, November 20, 2006

Putting It In Perspective

Some days you get mail saying you suck. Some days you get letters saying you have a horrible author photo and use too many dashes (--) in your sentences. And then you get a letter like this:

"For some time now, I have been meaning to get in contact with you... My family and I were stranded for 5 days in New Orleans after Katrina's aftermath. As the city flooded around us, I was able to entertain myself by reading your book... When we were rescued by boat, we were told that we couldn't bring any belongs with us. I tore out the last few chapters of the book and was able to finish the book as I waited to be rescued by army helicopter." - Michelle


Okay, not to get all Casey Kasem, but if I had a radio show, the long distance dedication would go to you, Michelle. And it would be an awesome song too -- not some pop-nonsense that would be forgotten a few weeks later.

Thanks for putting it in perspective.

Brad

Monday, November 13, 2006

Win Dinner With Brad

You asked for it, here it is -- wanna eat dinner with me? Well, in the name of true love, all you have to do is pay for it. It's all to benefit literacy, so bid away -- and I'll see you in Palm Beach, Florida. All you have to do is get yourself there.

The auction runs until the end of the week:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330049496520

See you soon,

B

Sunday, November 12, 2006

David Copperfield is my hero

It's so easy to join the crowd and bash Copperfield. But reading this, I find new love for him. I heart him now.

B

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Best cool reader art

Why do I always say we have the best readers? Because of things like this. These are the latest and best. Keep 'em coming, folks. When we get to the coolest one ever, we'll have a prize or somesuch. Until then, a huge hug-with-backpatting to:

1) This by Winterhawk aka Kevin Johnstone and "B" aka Blazej Szpakowicz.

http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/605/775yx2.jpg

And

http://www.comicbookfanart.com/JLA3.gif

2) And this guy who knit (KNIT!) the cover to Identity Crisis issue 6.

http://www.gregkucera.com/_images/newport/newpo_identitycris6.jpg

And his website at http://www.gregkucera.com/newport.htm


As I said, keep 'em coming: photos, art, diaramas, we love 'em. Best one gets something they'll really like.

B

Monday, October 30, 2006

Win a trip with Brad to DC

For the past month, The Book of Fate has been read by kind citizens and students in the state of Florida as part of the Governor's Read Together Florida program. So how does that benefit you? Well, if you win the contest they're sponsoring, I'll take you on a free trip to Washington, DC. Really. No joke. And all you have to do is enter. No purchase necessay, though the only catch is you have to live in Florida. But if you win, we're going to the Capitol, sis.

All the details are here: www.volunteerfloridafoundation.org

See you in DC.

b

Friday, October 20, 2006

Brad reads you to bed

And so, with the tour over (though still a few spots left in Austin, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Miami, plus the Broward Library this Sunday, Oct. 22nd at 2 pm), here's the official bookreading from The Book of Fate.

It's Chapter 1 with a few edits and cuts...and without our audio version and master-reader Scott Brick's baritone He-Man voice (my favorite reading in the country is in LA, because Scott sits in the front row, looks up at me, and as I read, shoots me a look that says, "You suck at this, pasty-boy." That's an actual quote from his raised eyebrows).

And so...

The podcast is here:
http://www.kqed.org/arts/writersblock/episode.jsp?id=11267

And iTunes users can access The Writers' Block via here:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=82023860

Special thanks to The Writers' Block in San Francisco -- and please go support them because they do much good. Much.

Butterfly kisses,

Brad

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New JLA art

Okay, of all the geek thrills, here's the best one lately (though still tough to beat the guy at Blockbuster.com who comped me for free movies forever -- man, I owe him big). Below are four new beautifully drawn pages from Justice League of America. Issue 1. That's right -- the ones the spectacular Ed Benes already drew.

Here, they're redrawn by new star Marcelo DiChiara. Why? I have no logical explanation, but boyo, do I love when someone sends me stuff like this. Like seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

A few years back, I asked if we could do something like this -- where different artists redid the same scene so we could see the view. So here you go...the view...free of charge.

And thanks to Joe Prado for passing these along.

Love and mushiness,

Brad

(click on images to enlarge)







Friday, October 13, 2006

Thank you

After five weeks, twenty-five cities, thirty events, and one book-signing at a Wal-Mart with a star from Days of Our Lives who was so ridiculously handsome, I almost kissed him...I'm finally home from the book tour. Without a doubt, the single best part was all the love and support I got from you, our family and friends. This wasn't just a book tour -- it was a movement, and at every stop there were people who came up and told me that they heard about the book from this friend, that family member, this cousin, that sister. I can't tell you how much that meant to us.

Even the Days of Our Lives guy was impressed (although he had 200 fawning women in his line, while I had three friends from Illinois in mine. Total. Lesson: don't compete with soap stars). But all easy jokes aside, what happened -- what's still happening with The Book of Fate -- you built this. You did. And you're the one who should be taking a bow.

As I've always said, there's only one name on the cover of a book, but only a fool thinks it's a one-person show. So thank you for being part of that show. Thank you for buying the books and the comics, and for sharing them with so many others. Cori and I are just humbled by your love and support -- there's NO WAY we could do this without you.

Truly hope we get to see you soon. And sending lots of love and thanks your way.

Brad

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More...

A little "October surprise" for you.

This is the second part. Trust me. It makes the first one look like...whatever it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4avfLAYYUno

Brad

Brad Dancing

This is the spookier than Casper, but the funniest thing I've seen all week. Oh, how I love this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx-NLPH8JeM&eurl=

Brad

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Meltz E. Fresh

After nine years, a radio show finally asked me to select my favorite songs to play during a book interview. You know how long I waited for that? It's the music lovers dream--you get to play Casey Kasem--you get to play YOUR music and people listen--like sharing your ultimate mix tape with the world. And I love mixes. My entire four years of college were filled with mixes, especially dance mixes. Here's the list of them, and promise, all of these are real (sadly):
  • Meltz E. Fresh
  • Meltz E. Soul
  • Bell Biv DeMeltz
  • Please Meltz Don't Hurt 'Em

I will say, Meltz E. Soul was designed to be the ultimate make-out mix. Never worked. Too much Prince, not enough Keath Sweat.

So...below is what we played--and HUGE thanks to rock legend and DJ G. Brown from Colorado's KCUV for giving me the chance.

For those who want to hear it in it's entirety, with full commentary, you can stream it at www.kcuvradio.com this Saturday (October 7th) at 8 a.m. Pacific time. That's Pacific time, east coasters.

And so, here's the list (with the caveat that these aren't the greatest songs I'd ever pick...it's the list that fits their rock format...and therefore doesn't include MMM...Bop and all the Salt n Pepa songs from Meltz E. Fresh. But it does include Blues Traveler, who played in our kitchen in college. Really.
  • Faces - Ohh La La
  • Mixed Bizness - Beck
  • Run Around - Blues Traveler
  • Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters - Elton John
  • Away - Leroy
  • A Little Respect - Wheatus
  • Overkill - Colin Hay
  • Tripping Billies - Dave Matthews Band
  • Superman - Lazlo Bane
  • Paradise City - Guns & Roses
  • Drift Away - Dobie Gray
  • Salisbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
  • Mississippi - Sheryl Crow
  • Scar Tissue - Chili Peppers
  • My Name is Jonas - Weezer
  • Theme from The Greatest American Hero

B

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Go to the White House, Meet Elmo

Just got back from the National Book Festival in Washington, where the best perk is breakfast at the White House with all the other authors. So...the White House. Are the eggs and french toast sticks better in the White House? Yes. They are. Even the french toast sticks are better, and it's hard to improve on french toast sticks. From my reseach for The First Counsel, I knew they also of course would have tons of presidential napkins for us to steal (Done). But the true highlight? Got to meet Elmo. From Sesame Street.

Let me say, I love the Muppets. Jim Henson is a personal hero, so the chance to meet the puppeteer who does Elmo...to see the magic that close...THAT was the thrill for me. Here's his book, My Life as a Furry Red Monster by Kevin Clash.

Plus, as Cori was talking to him, he offered to leave a message on our machine in full Elmo voice. The Fonz is cool. Beck is cool. But Sesame Street is cooler.

Screw anyone who says otherwise.

Love to all. And the letter for the day is E.

Brad

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Book of Fate On The Colbert Report

For those that have asked me, here is the clip of Stephen Colbert talking about The Book of Fate on Tuesday's The Colbert Report.

Click here to go to YouTube, or watch the video below.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

West Coast begins

Landed in San Diego late last night and now ready for a week of In-and-Out Burger (which is a restaurant I love despite it sounding like bad porn).

So onto the west coast--looking forward to seeing Alex Sinclair, super colorist, tonight, comic folks all week, a surprise novelist for breakfast, as well as the Jack & Bobby posse in LA.

And with the time difference, I feel like I'm sleeping late.

Finally, sorry to the Portland folks -- it got cut from the tour at the last minute (just scheduling issues, no gossip), which truly bummed me out.

And going to the White House Saturday for the National Book Festival. Will of course report the insanity.

Thanks as always,

B

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The boy named Sam

Day 15 of the book tour brings easily the most rewarding moment. I'm in Boston, Mass, with an hour to kill before the event at Brookline Booksmith begins. The vital piece is that it was in a restaurant on that very street that I first said, "I'm going to write a novel." The second vital piece is that there's also a comic shop on that street that I used to shop at. So to kill time, I dart into the comic shop, pick up a few books, and sign some comics for the manager.

Ten feet away, this boy and his Mom see me signing. The boy (Sam) doesn't know me from Eve, doesn't care what I do, but man, is he excited that I'm signing Justice League. So excited that he begs Mom to buy one...and when the manager tells them about my book signing across the street, he begs Mom to go to the event.

And Sam shows up, novel in hand. He didn't care what it was about. Didn't care if anyone else was there. He was just excited to meet a real writer.

In twenty years, I'm gonna be standing in line at Sam's booksigning. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Off to Philadelphia...

Brad

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bestseller List

I called my Mom first (my wife already pried it out of my publisher when they were trying to track me down). So I come out of the interview I was in, and get the news, and call my Mom, telling her The Book of Fate will be debuting at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

My Mom starts sobbing, barely able to utter a word. And with her sobs come my own as the reality of it finally settles in. And in mid-sob, my voice cracks as I ask her, "Where are you?"

She chokes back her own tears and a sob and tells me, "Marshalls."

Of course my Mom's bargain hunting at Marshalls. Bet she bought some irregulars too. And that's why I love my mother--the one person who forever taught me to never ever ever ever change. For anyone.

Needless to say, this isn't just our victory. It's yours. All our friends and family and readers--you built this. When you bought those novels or took them out of the library or borrowed them, you built it.

And where did the publisher think the sudden push came from? Longtime readers who put the word out and comic readers who came over to the medium. That's right. You.

I've always said our longtime readers are the kindest and best. And having it in JLA 1 was one of the single most rewarding things I've ever been a part of. My publisher called it an experiment. It was never an experiment to me. It was a movement. A movement I'm so proud to be a small part of -- and a change from the snobbery that ranks thriller, mystery, and comic readers at the bottom of the literary pyramid.

If you're reading this, you're part of that same movement. So thank you -- for telling your mom and dad and family and friends and whoever else you called up and said, "You gotta read this book."

There's one name on the cover of every book, but only a fool thinks it's a one-person show. Thanks for being part of the show.

See you on the tour -- and of course, at Marshalls.

Much love and thanks,

Brad

Sunday, September 10, 2006

NASCAR’s David Stremme & Brad

Here it is – the final round of our Celebrity Blog Tour. And for this one, we saved one of the funniest and best -- and our vote-getter for Rookie of the Year – NASCAR driver David Stremme.

Also, thanks to PerezHilton, USA Today's Pop Candy, PopSugar, AOL and NASCAR.Com for hosting the full blog tour.

And now, here’s Brad and David Stremme:

David Stremme: What inspired you to utilize NASCAR racing as part of the first chapter of The Book of Fate?

Brad Meltzer: My son, who was three at the time. No joke, the boy came out of the womb in a multi-colored jumpsuit. He went as Dale Jr. for Halloween. So when it came time to write Chapter One, I was about to start with a baseball scene (for my dad), but instead picked a NASCAR race (for my boy). Plus, NASCAR guru and my pal Mike Calinoff e-mailed me and said he liked my thrillers, so now I had an inside track.

Stremme: What is the fastest you have ever driven in a passenger car?

Meltzer: Whatever I was doing when me and my high school buddies took Howie Robinson's car for a joyride and crashed it. In the end, the car was only slightly dented--so we thought we got off easy. The next day, we found out we cracked the car's axle -- and we were so stupid, we didn't even realize that the car was six inches lower when we drove it home. When I told my Dad what we'd done, he looked me right in the eye and said, "You'll never be worse than I was as a kid. Don't tell your mother." The day Howie got the car fixed, a guy ran a stop sign and plowed into it, totaling his just-fixed car.

Stremme: How many speeding tickets have you gotten? ...Honestly.

Meltzer: Six. Plus fifteen fingers worth of warnings. I always make the cops nice in my books -- so they let me off.

Stremme: Does (your wife) Cori ever tell you to "slow down"? Do you listen?

Meltzer: My wife thinks I'm a maniac and that I drive like I’m sixteen years-old. Which is probably fair, although at sixteen, I used to think every red light was the three seconds before they yelled, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” Of course, that’s what I like most about NASCAR – on any given day, on any road, I can squint my eyes and pretend I’m in the race. And when you’re driving where I live in Florida? You are in the race.

Stremme: What was your first reaction to seeing the Daytona International Speedway?

Meltzer: The thunder, baby. No doubt. That sound…the way your teeth vibrate…the roar of 200,000 people in one place, all screaming over the chainsaw of engines. At University of Michigan football games, 100,000 people was a massive roar of a crowd. But Daytona? Think of your biggest football stadium -- and you can put two of those in Daytona. Right now, I can close my eyes and still feel it.

Stremme: I have fun going fast. What's fun about being an author?

Meltzer: When I pull up next to Dan Brown on the highway and nod at him like we’re friends, and then, when he least expects it, I tear the wheel to the right and bite his back bumper just enough to send his best-selling ass spinning like a helicopter as he careens into the cement wall, pissed at me, but already thrilled to plan his payback.

Thanks to NASCAR.Com for hosting this interview.


Looking for Brad on tour?

Liked this interview? Make sure you didn’t miss the ones with Damon Lindelof from LOST, former First Lady Barbara Bush, director Tommy Schlamme, and Adam Brody, star of The OC.

To find out which celebrities are actually Freemasons, click here.

And to see The Book of Fate doing the full NASCAR, click here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Adam Brody & Brad

Adam Brody, star of The OC and Thank You For Smoking is slinging the questions at Brad today.

Just getting here now? Then you missed Damon Lindelof, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and director Tommy Schlamme.

And now, here’s Brad and Adam Brody:

Adam Brody: Which is your favorite film adaptation of a novel?

Brad Meltzer: Okay, I see how you're playing this game. You're just gearing up to grill me like those guys you hate at TV Guide. The answer's obvious: Lord of the Rings. Everyone says To Kill A Mockingbird, but let's be honest, the book is better. Especially for Scout. Also, the last Harry Potter movie -- Goblet of Fire -- ranks up there too. Far better than the book, which I just thought ran way too long. Plus, Charlotte's Web made me cry.

Brody: Which is your least favorite?

Meltzer: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Best book. Sorry to say, they just shanked that movie.

Brody: Who's on the verge of a comeback?

Meltzer: Wonder Woman. Really. Don't believe me? Joss Whedon is doing the film. That's right. Buffy's brains...Serenity's brawn. All on the big screen. My wife said she used to spin around, praying she'd turn into her.

Brody: Most underrated movie?

Meltzer: A few years back, I'd say The Big Lebowski, but it's somehow thankfully now everywhere. I also think Go, Man on the Moon, and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind were severely overlooked. But y'know what? Let me give my real answer. People hate sequels. I hate sequels. But I just saw Toy Story 2 again with my nephew. That and Rocky 3 (yeah, I said it) are just -- they're great. I mean it. Go watch.

Brody: What actor would you cast as yourself in your biopic?

Meltzer: You mean besides every flight attendant on every plane I go on telling me I look like that guy from ER? I say to them, "You must mean Clooney." They say, "No, the bald one."

Thanks to AOL for hosting the interview.


Looking for Brad on tour?
Liked this interview? Tomorrow – NASCAR superstar!
And to find out which celebrities are actually Freemasons, click here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tommy Schlamme from Studio 60 & Brad

Tommy Schlamme, master director of The West Wing, Jack & Bobby, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is on question-duty today.

Just getting here now? Then you missed Damon Lindelof and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

And now, onto Tommy and Brad…

Thomas Schlamme: Who would win in a fight -- real fight -- between the comic book Superman and the movie Superman?

Brad Meltzer: The true sad part is, this is a really good question. And the even sadder part? I'm fascinated by the answer. And so...I have to go with the comic book Superman for the win. Sure, the movie one can fly around the world to turn back time to save Lois...and he can lift that kryptonite land mass that was gonna make Luthor...um...have something to do in the movie...and yes, he has that cellophane S from Superman II. But in the full annals of Superman history, the comic book version has survived 14 types of kryptonite, a dozen trips to the Phantom Zone, hundreds of villains trying to beat him down on a monthly basis, death itself, and even that bad redesign of his costume in the 90s that made him look like an ice skater. Not in a good way.

Schlamme: What about a race between Superman and Flash?

Meltzer: If they run, Flash. If flying's allowed, Superman. What's strange is how sure I am of this. Sometimes, truly, I'm a sad pathetic man.

Schlamme: What's the hardest part about writing a fight scene?

Meltzer: Oh, I hate writing fight scenes. It’s a minefield of clich├ęs. But people want ‘em. Don’t say no. They do. In the very first book I wrote, I was determined to challenge the genre. I had the big ending, and the big confrontation, and the gun to the hero’s head – and then, hoping to make it completely realistic, instead of having the hero kick the gun away like in the other thousand thrillers out there, I let the FBI come bursting in the door to save the day. That was my solution: be real and show how it really happens. Every reader of that draft – even the snobby ones – they just destroyed it. They needed to see the hero save that day. The only good news was, in the final version, I didn’t have him kick the gun.

Schlamme: Does anyone even care if fight scenes are realistic anymore, as long as they're entertaining?

Meltzer: In a movie, the fights are ridiculous. I love Rocky III. I truly do. But if any single man took that many punches to the face, they'd look like...well...let's just say there'd be no Rocky IV (which I realize is probably a good thing). But the point is, we don't care in a movie. We want to see the action go all fast and all furious. Did you see the recent Batman movie? I loved the fight scenes in there. I couldn't tell what the hell was happening or who was punching whom, but man, it was pretty. In a novel, people want it far more realistic. In The Millionaires, when they were in the underground tunnels under Disneyworld, I had the villain hitting the hero in the face three or four times, and the editors were like, “Whoa, whoa – he’d be unconscious by now.” And I’m thinking, “Didn’t you see Rocky III?”

Schlamme: Have you ever actually been in a fistfight?

Meltzer: Once. In Brooklyn, in fifth grade. But it wasn’t one of those someone-throws-a-punch- and-it-turns-into-a-wrestling-match fight that you usually see in the schoolyards. It was a fistfight. The first punch was thrown by him – he put his entire fist in my eye. And that’s when the switch flipped for me. I just started swinging and swinging and swinging at his face. My hand got so swollen from where my fingers were digging into my palm, I could barely make a fist. Finally, he collapsed, his nose and chin covered in blood. When we eventually got dragged up to the principal’s office, they made me wait there while they called his parents to take him home (he was too beat up to send back to class). The worst part was, he had one of those dads who was older than everyone else’s dad -- and when his dad came into the office, I’ll never forget the look on his face as this old man had to go over to his broken son. I still can’t shake the image. I eventually got sent back to class with a nice shiner, and when I walked inside, my class cheered. It was the worst victory of my life.

Thanks to PopSugar for hosting this interview.


Looking for Brad on tour?

Liked this interview? Tomorrow – a star from The OC…

To find out which celebrities are actually Freemasons, click here.

And to see The Book of Fate doing the full NASCAR, click here.

Brad on a racecar. Really. On it.

Of all the dumb cool things that’ve ever happened to me, from Woody Allen to well, my entire career, this is one of the most insane.

The Book of Fate on the #12 car for Fitz-Bradshaw Racing. It’s in the NASCAR Busch Series, and if Fitz-Bradshaw wins today in Richmond when this sucker hits the racetrack, we’re all getting cool jumpsuits!

Needless to say, my recent NASCAR obsession comes from my son, which is why I put it in Chapter 1 of the novel. But the true thrill from being involved with NASCAR has been my friendship with racing legend Mike Calinoff. He’s the one in the President’s limo in Chapter 1, but he’s also one of the truly nicest people I’ve ever met.

Go support him, and go support David Stremme.

And Mike, if the #12 wins today…Oy…

Brad


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Barbara Bush & Brad. Really.

BTW, thank you for all the comments on the video we shot at the New York signing. Special thanks to PF Bentley who shot the video for us.

For those just tuning in, we promised we’d have cool bigshots interviewing Brad on the occasion of The Book of Fate and the book tour. Yesterday, we had Damon Lindelof from LOST. And today, here’s one of the biggest of all – former First Lady Barbara Bush. That’s right, Barbara Bush.

Take it away Mrs. Bush…

Barbara Bush: What're the top three albums that are on your iPod?

Brad Meltzer: I’m looking right now for what I played last…Guero by Beck, About A Boy by Badly Drawn Boy, and the new Chili Peppers double-disc. But I need to know -- can you tell me what's on yours?

BB: In all honesty Brad, I don’t know if I can narrow it down, Andrew Lloyd Webber is a favorite but I absolutely love any kind of show tunes -- you play a Broadway musical, and I’m going to be tapping my toes. On that note, music is considered art -- What's the worst piece of art you and your wife ever purchased?"

Brad: Something tells me my answer will be a lot less expensive than yours. But at the Broward County Fair, I once bought a picture of David Hasselhoff sorta painted on a mirror -- the whole thing framed in what could only be described as plastic wood. I thought it was cool because it had the Knight Rider car in the background. Don’t ask. I was thirteen.

BB: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I suppose. While reading your website--

Brad: Wait, you read my website? Don't you have staff for that? Or like, the Pentagon?

BB: I have an iPod and a Blackberry. I know how to go to websites, Brad.

Brad: My mother's going to be mad at me for asking you that.

BB: I’m sure she will understand. Now, while reading your website, I saw that you received 24 rejection letters on your first novel, which still hasn't been published to this day. Do you draw any inspiration from that rejection?

Brad: Every single day I sit down to write, I think about those rejections. I had twenty-four people tell me to give it up. Does that make them wrong, and me right? Of course not. All it means is life is subjective. All you need is one person to say yes. So every day, I think about those letters. It puts it in perspective. It reminds me to never take this job for granted. And it tells me to never let anyone tell you No.

BB: Great attitude Brad, I might just send friends to you for advice now. What was your favorite book as a child?

Brad: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. What about yours?

BB: My favorite book to read to my children when they were being raised was Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky.

Brad: See that's the thing. Mine is solely because my mom read it to me. Just sitting in her lap. That book makes me feel young and safe to this day. Plus, I love the illustrations. I was at a wedding where Eric Carle was a guest, and I had to fight everything within me to not go over and ask him to sketch something on a cocktail napkin for me.

BB: You should've asked.

Brad: Yeah...he wouldn't have said no to you.

BB: [Laughs] And where's your favorite place to escape?

Brad: The week before my wedding, my best friends rented a boat for two hours. We were still in school -- we had no money, no jobs…but for two hours, in Key West, we had this boat. The Captain had a radio that somehow -- magically -- I’m telling you, it played all your old favorite songs, and we just sat on that boat and drifted around. That was an escape.

BB: Final question: I know the answer to this one, but what details did you steal from the Office of George Bush and put in your new novel?

Brad: Ahh, you saw the advance copy, didn’t you? I didn’t know if it got there yet. Well…when I came to Houston -- and when I went up to Harlem to the Office of Bill Clinton – you both had the coolest offices around. You have to know that -- personally, I don’t have pictures of me and the Pope on my walls. But when I was looking for things to describe it the novel, I picked lots of the cool details, and of course, my favorite desk item of all time: that bronzed casting of Abraham’s Lincoln fist. C’mon, you have Lincoln’s fist. That beats my Kermit the Frog paperweight any day.

Special thanks to Whitney Matheson at USA Today's PopCandy for posting this to her blog on Tuesday.

Looking for Brad on tour?

Liked this interview? Tomorrow – we’ve got the man from Studio 60…

And to find out which celebrities are actually Freemasons, click here.

NPR Interview

Here's the interview from yesterday's All Things Considered on NPR. Now go give money to public radio!

B

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Damon Lindelof from LOST & Brad

Rather than bore you with five boring questions from yet another reporter, we’ve asked some of the best celebrities, politicians, and personalities in the world to do their razzle and dazzle on you.

First up: Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of the TV show LOST. As for the rest, you really won’t believe it – we’ve got one of the stars from The OC, a former First Lady, one of the brains behind Studio 60, a NASCAR driver, and more.

These interviews make up the first-ever Celebrity Blog Tour – if anyone uses that term, we invented it here, so start paying royalties, sucker. You owe us! Anyway, this first one started on PerezHilton with Damon Lindelof, then we went to AOL with…you’ll see. Check back tomorrow.

And so, here’s Brad and Damon.

Damon Lindelof: When you were a little kid, what was your favorite thing to do in gym class? I ask this because most of us spazoids were terrible at the jock-attracting activities like basketball, football, baseball... well, ANYTHING with a ball really... but yet elementary school gym offered a wider curriculum of activities. So give it UP!

Brad Meltzer: Red Rover, Red Rover, we call Damon right over. No ball, no brawn, no athletics involved -- and the first little mind game they let us play. I wasn't strong or fast, but man, did the meatheads get pissed if they didn't get their name called. I took the smallest amount of pathetic joy in that.

Lindelof: You have a time machine. You can go back to ANY time in your own life and tell yourself to do something differently. You may NOT place any bets or give stock tips. To what point in your life do you travel and what do you tell yourself? Paradoxes are welcomed.

Meltzer: Brooklyn, New York, July 5, 1984. The day my family left Brooklyn to move to Florida. I was fourteen, my mom and dad had no jobs, no place to live, and only $1,200 to their name. They packed me and my sister in our crappy Dodge and began driving to Florida. So there, yes, it would've been nice to have someone whisper in my ear that things would be okay. But I was a cynic at fourteen and would've thought the current Me was a bald, uncool white dude, so I would've screamed, "Stranger!" and run away, thinking, "What a turd." Nice going, Me--brilliant at fourteen. Besides, all that fear and anxiety is the core of everything in my belly, so I'm glad I'd think I was a knob. Go, young cool Me!

Lindelof: Would you rather be referred to as a comic-book writer or a novelist in your obituary. You can only choose one.

Meltzer: This question haunts me. Daily. It cuts to the heart of all my fears and self-focused fantasies. Novelist is easily more "impressive" to the large group. It impresses my mom. It lets her brag to her friends. But as a matter of pride, I’m truly more in my own skin in the world of comics. I didn't read novels growing up. I don't read that many novels now. But comics? I read comics. I know them. I understand them. And they let me be part of the coolest, geekiest, saddest, happiest, smartest secret-club around. Comics are like high school sweetheart, and novels are like the sexy sultry blonde who would never date you when you were nothing, but shows up now once you've found a sliver of success. But even with all that ridiculous self-confession -- I still have to say "novelist" for my obituary. Not because it's cooler or more prestigious or more impressive to my mom. I say it because, when I write a novel, it's mine. The creation is mine. The creative process is mine. And to build that entire house with nothing but your own hands...to be the sole architect from idea to end...and to not need a large conglomerate's property to do it...that's something to be.
And Damon, I owe you a good two bills for that therapy session.

Lindelof: Earth has been ravaged by a hundred year war as humanity is forced below the earth, cowering in underground caverns until a victor is declared between the two mighty combatants. Robots vs. Zombies. Who wins that war?

Meltzer: Zombies, easy. Please, it's the first rule of Zombies: Nothing stops Zombies. Robots may make it through a sequel or two. The cybernetic forearm may survive until they can afford morphing effects. But lava eventually stops robots. Keanu stops Robots. Nothing stops Zombies. (Tomorrow I'm changing my answer. Robots can always create more of themselves).

Lindelof: What is the WORST ending of the BEST story?

Meltzer: I hate giving this answer--I actually regret it as I say the words: The easy answer is The Phantom Menace (just a shame), but the real answer has to be the last two Matrix movies. I remember exactly where I sat in the theater when I saw Star Wars at age 7. I remember where I sat when I saw the first Superman movie. And it never happened again until The Matrix. It was like that scene in Kavalier & Clay where they see Citizen Kane and they feel like the whole wide world just opened and expanded. That's how I felt with The Matrix. I came out of there and just felt the whole world of fantasy and geekdom and film and story all change at once. I was thrilled, inspired -- thankful even -- just to witness it. But the sequels...all the emotion was gone.

Special thanks to Perez Hilton for posting this to their blog on Tuesday.


Looking for Brad on tour?

Liked this interview? Wait till tomorrow – we’ve got one of the biggest of them all…

And to find out which celebrities are actually Freemasons, click here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Video: Book Of Fate Signing In New York

Thank you to everyone in New York who came to the first reading and signing for The Book of Fate.

We look forward to seeing more of you at the upcoming appearances on the book tour.

In the meantime, here is a video of Brad talking about his visit to Bulgaria. Oh, and Wednesday afternoon we'll post the first interview in the Celebrity Blog Tour featuring Damon Lindelof, the co-creator of the TV show LOST.

Click here for the YouTube link or watch it here and you can also "Digg" this video on Digg.Com.

Cori

Kickoff for The Book of Fate

If you’re reading this, you’re a dear friend, a complete stranger, or (let’s be honest, shall we) most likely, you’re a relative. Hi Aunt Bunny!

It’s true. I have an Aunt Bunny.

So today kicks off the 25-city tour for the publication of The Book of Fate.

But rather than shill the new novel (you can read the Q&A for that), let me just take a moment to thank all of you who are reading this right now. This book is the culmination of three years of research and work, yet while there’s one name on the front cover, only a fool thinks this is a one-person show. So thanks to you, dear reader, dear friends (trust me, that’s the same group). I’ve been at this for nearly ten years now, and the best part is having you in my life.

So what else?

Wanna see Damon Lindelof, one of the co-creators of the TV show LOST, quizzing me something fierce? Go here. Plus, you’ll see my Q&A with a former First Lady as well (oohh, neat).

Wanna see which celebrities are Freemasons (and therefore part of the world’s oldest and largest fraternity)? Go here to see the game Warner built.

I’m off to New York right now for the big first event.

More to come tomorrow. And even more on Friday.

B

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'm Thirteen Again

This was sent to me this morning via the website:

Question: Posted by RaynerFan
Have you ever taken the time to consider that you might have writtensomebodies first comic, and that they are hooked because of you?

Answer: Let me tell you something – THAT is the most humbling, fantastic, terrifying, incredible throught that any creator can think – although only the pig-headed ego freaks actually think it. But man, what a reward.

During my trip to San Diego for Identity Crisis, a young thirteen year-old kid sheepishly comes up to the table and puts down his comic. I ask him his name and he steps backwards, purely by instinct, and bumps into his Dad, who’s right behind him. The Dad smiles proudly and says, “You’re one of his favorite writers.” The kid is even more embarassed – and as the Dad’s words reach my ear, I realize that this kid is ME. This is me at thirteen. This is my awkwardness. This is my love for the industry and for writing.

I can’t wait to stand in line at his table one day.

Four more days until The Book of Fate. Oy, this is when the sweating starts. I leave Monday for book tour. See you soon.

B

Monday, August 28, 2006

Woody Allen story...and Bendis too.

Here it is -- it's long, it's fun, and it's the first time I've ever explained why Woody Allen asked me to be in his movie. Really.

To see the full story, click here.

Thanks, Brian.

As for new questions, only one person asked, "Why not Ollie?" And that honestly pretty much answers it.

B

Thursday, August 24, 2006

TV Commercial - and JLA first responders

Just got the first look at the TV commercial for The Book of Fate. It's the first one with me in it, which also makes it the most strangely embarrassing. I was mortified doing it because it basically required me to say "I'm Brad Meltzer" -- no exaggeration -- thirty thousand times. Plus, I had to do it in that deep serious voice that makes me sound like the movie-preview-voice-guy.

I don't have movie-preview-guy voice. Never have. But I do now. Oh yes -- when you watch the commercial (I'll post it soon), they had to make my voice match the video, so they slowed it down and it got deepened into a slow rumbling baritone. Like me, only tough.

Also, for JLA, one of the first responses/questions I got:

From bluemeanie: I was wondering if you could settle a question that I have been debating on a comics forum with regards Vixen.

There are basically 3 camps on why she was included
1) Its a fairly obscure character you like and have plans for
2) Its a political decision to include a female black character
3) Its a commercial decision as she is in the cartoon
or maybe 4... a little of all the above

Answer: I'm sure there are people who would love to do it for 2, 3, or 4 (though see yesterday's post, been planning this since Identity Crisis) -- but c'mon, ask any writer out there -- only a fool wouldn't do it if they didn't like the character and have plans for the character.

And that's why EVERY character got picked. Love them. Plans for all of them. That's the seed in every story.

B

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

JLA - Chapter 1

First a welcome:

To all the new readers showing up for the first time.

To all the people who actually read to the very end of Chapter 1 of the novel in JLA.

And of course, to the incredible group who haunts here regularly.

Welcome to all. Don’t kill each other.

As for this post, I do first want to talk about the League. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I only wish you could be in my head right now to see the thrill that working on this book brings me. The Justice League of America was the first comic I ever read. It made me a reader, and that, in so many ways, made me a writer. So thanks to DC for giving me this shot.

SPOILERS COMING - DON'T READ THE REST UNTIL YOU'VE READ THE FIRST ISSUE OF JLA. NO JOKE - I PROMISE, IT'S SO MUCH MORE FUN AS A SURPRISE.

As for the new team, glad to see all the various reactions. Thrilled to see the love for the new characters. And believe me, for those characters not on the team, if space weren’t an issue – I’d love to have them all there: All the ones on the 2-part Benes cover – and even more that’re not on there.

If I were on this book for a limitless time, I’d let the first year just be the Big Three, plus Flash and Green Lantern. I’d love to do that team for a year – and then I’d let it grow in year two – and then I’d let it turn into this team in year three.

But with my schedule…a year it is, so here’s the very best of it. Now, to the few eagle-eyed out there, yes, I’ve been building toward this for nearly five years now -- since my first comic book arc, The Archer’s Quest. To be specific: Green Arrow # 19, page 3, panel 3 reads:

Roy: So you think they’ll invite you back in the League?

Ollie: No idea.

Panel Four: Same shot.

Roy: What would you say if they asked?

Ollie: Know what’s funny? You’re almost the same age I was when I joined. They should be asking you to be a member.

Panel Five: Same shot, but Roy’s got a blank look on his face. The comment hits home.

Panel Six: Same shot, but Roy looks back at the road.

Roy: You wanna stop for lunch?

Ollie: mmm.

It’s no different than Black Lightning and Vixen. Why else you think they appear in Identity Crisis? The Justice League or Avengers line-up we dreamed when we were little is within each of us forever.

Okay, so enough with the I’m-so-tricky. I’m not. You could beat me at Connect Four. Let’s save at least something for tomorrow, where we can chat the rest of the membership, overall reaction, etc. And for those looking what to read next, let me invite you to enjoy the brand new overhaul of the site.

What do people like best here? Judging by the clicks, the tour schedule (and yes, I’m happy to sign comics at all stops, of course), the essay I wrote about my wife, the piece about my sexual obsession with Terra, the big Q&A, and of course, The Book of Fate.

Send me questions here

Tomorrow,

B

Tour Schedule (or, how to get your comics signed)

For those who asked, here's the tour schedule for The Book of Fate -- and yes, I'll be signing any comics you want to bring as well. See below for dates and cities.

Brad

NEW YORK
Tuesday, September 5
Barnes & Noble, Union Square, 7pm
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003

WASHINGTON, DC
Wednesday, September 6
Politics & Prose, 7pm
5015 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008

STERLING, VIRGINIA
Saturday, September 9
Wegmans, 12pm
45131 Columbia Place
Sterling VA 20166

BETHESDA, MARYLAND
Saturday, September 9
Barnes & Noble, 7:30pm
4801 Bethesda Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814

DALLAS, TEXAS
Monday, September 11
Borders Books & Music, 7:30pm
10720 Preston Road, Suite 1018
Dallas, TX 75230

ATLANTA, GEORGIA
Tuesday, September 12
Chapter 11 Books, Sandy Springs, 7pm
220 Johnson Ferry Road, NE
Sandy Springs, GA 30328

VERO BEACH, FLORIDA
Wednesday, September 13
Vero Beach Book Center, 7pm
2145 Indian River Blvd.
Vero Beach, FL 32960

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA
Thursday, September 14
Barnes & Noble, 7pm
University Commons
1400 Glades Rd.
Boca Raton, FL 33431

SARASOTA, FLORIDA
Friday, September 15
Kobernick House, 11:30am
1951 North Honore Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34235
Reading, Signing, Luncheon
Call for details: 941-552-1595

MIAMI, FLORIDA
Saturday, September 16
Books & Books, 7pm
296 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33145

ANTIOCH, ILLINOIS
Sunday, September 17
Wal-Mart/People Live! (1 to 3 pm)
Wal-Mart Store ..5199
475 East Route 173
Antioch, IL 60002

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Monday, September 18
Borders Books & Music, 12pm
150 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60601

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Monday, September 18
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, 7pm
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093

BIRMINGHAM, MICHIGAN
Tuesday, September 19
Borders Books & Music, 7pm
34300 Woodward Avenue
Birmingham, MI 48009

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Wednesday, September 20
Brookline Booksmith, 7pm
279 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Thursday, September 21
Chester County Book Co, 7pm
975 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Monday, September 25
Mysterious Galaxy, 7pm
7051 Claremont Mesa Blvd ..302
San Diego, CA 92111

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Tuesday, September 26
Book Soup, 7pm
8818 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
Wednesday, September 27
Vroman's, 7pm
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101

SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA
Thursday, September 28
"M" is for Mystery, 12noon
86 E. Third Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401

CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA
Thursday, September 28
Book Passage, 7pm
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL - WASHINGTON, DC
Friday, September 29-Saturday, September 30
Washington, DC

PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Tuesday, October 3
Poisoned Pen Central, 12:15pm
215 E Grant Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
Tuesday, October 3
The Poisoned Pen, 7pm
4014 N Goldwater Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

DENVER, COLORADO
Wednesday, October 4
Tattered Cover, 7:30pm
9315 Dorchester Street
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS
Saturday, October 7
Hastings, 7pm
2200 S. IH-35, Suite B1
Round Rock, TX 78681

Don't forget to vote for the next city!

My obsession with...

So many people have asked for it, so here it is: what one reviewer called my near-sexual fascination with a comic book character. Please... Dumb critic. It was totally sexual. Read...


How I Spent My Summer Vacation With The Judas Contract
by Brad Meltzer, originally published in Give Our Regards to the Atom-Smashers.

I was fourteen. She was sixteen.
I had a long, shaggy bowl cut (feathered on the sides, natch). She had a blond Dutch-boy hairstyle.
I was at the height of puberty. She was far more experienced.
I was an innocent. She was, too (or so it seemed).
Her name was Terra (aka Tara Markov). And she was the first girl to break my heart.

Simply put, she lied to me. And Im not just talking about the standard grade school lies (Youre definitely my best friend, or I never told Julie Lerner you were fat.). Im talking something far more sinister. Terra betrayed me. She deceived me. She shoved a knife in my belly and sliced upward all the way to my heart. And at fourteen years old, I loved every minute of it.

To back up a bit, and to give a little background in the hope that, when my mother reads this, she wont feel the parental guilt that will cause her to spend the next year of my life asking, Whos this Tara Markov, and how come you didnt tell me about her? heres a quick primer. In December 1982, New Teen Titans ..26 was published, introducing Terra, a troubled fifteen year-old who became the first new member of the Teen Titans. Let me make one thing clear: this was a big deal to me.

In 1982, New Teen Titans, written by Marv Wolfman, and drawn oh-so-exquisitely by George Perez, was easily the best book on the market (thats right, I said it--and yes, smart guy, Im well aware that Byrne-Claremont X-Men was being published at the same time). Made up of the junior superheroes of the DC Universe, the Titans brought together such mainstays as Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl, with new characters Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Changling (a young, green (yes, green) fifteen year-old class clown who could change into green animals (yes, green, and yes, animals). As I type those words, Im reminded that comics always suffer in the re-telling, but take my word for it, the alchemy between Wolfman and Perez created a vehicle for stories that redefined what comic-book characterization was all about. Sure, the Titans beat on the bad guys, but the book was first and foremost about the relationships between these young kids who were saddled with enough power to knock down a mountain. And you thought your puberty was tough.

Which brings us back to Terra. At the time she was invited to join, the Titans were a family. Seven members. And now there was an eighth. As I said, it was a big deal--imagine Ringo telling the other Beatles, Hey, blokes--I got a great fifth to play tambourine! Still, it was accepted without much fuss. Lets not forget, thats how superteams work. Members leave . . . members join. Even Batman and Robin parted ways (the original Robin, fanboy). There are no Beatles in comics.

As Terra spent time with the group, there were definitely a few doubters. Would she fit in? Was she joining the team with the right intentions? But me? I was like Changling--simply smitten.

Im not ashamed. I was twelve when she first appeared. Wonder Woman was far too old, and Wonder Girl was mature enough that she was dating a guy with a beard. Dammit, where were the teenage girls whod like insecure, loud-mouthed boys wearing Lee jeans like me? And then, out of the George Perez blue sky, comes this fifteen year-old fast-talking blond with super powers who could control the Earth itself. You better believe the ground quaked beneath my feet. Sure, she was trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty, but that was only because terrorists were threatening to kill her parents if she didnt take Lady Liberty down. She didnt want to do it, though--remember her words? I dont want to do any of this! Look at the back issues. There were tears in her eyes as she begged Changling to stay away. Dont make it harder on me, she begged. Please!! No question, this was a girl who needed help. She needed someone to come to her aid. She needed me.

Fast forward to issue twenty-eight. Terra was robbing a bank. Like before, her heart wasnt in it. She even apologized to Changling as she attacked him. . . . Im really sorry I have to do this And again, there were the tears. Curse those tears! They melted my pubescent heart like Fire Lad tonguing a Klondike bar. Dammit, world, cant you understand shes only doing it to save her parents!?

Of course, the Titans understood, and helped her track down the terrorists, only to find that her parents were already dead(!). Raging out of control, Terra screamed for revenge, gripping the terrorists in an enormous fist made of rock. As the villains begged for mercy, my girl squeezed them tighter. The Earth was shaking. She was so powerful, she started an earthquake. My young eyes went wide as the stone fist tightened--I couldnt believe it--she was really gonna kill em. But like all true heroes, as Terra peered into the abyss, she didnt like what she saw. Crumbling to her knees, she showed the villains the mercy never given to her parents. Again, my heart plummeted--Terra was fifteen and all alone in the world. Didnt anyone hear what she was saying on the final pages? I . . . feel so alone. And then, Changling looked into those sad, newly-orphaned blue eyes and said exactly what my twelve year-old brain was thinking: You dont have to be, Terra. Im here. (Emphasis not mine, but man, it couldve been.) The teaser on the cover of the issue said, Introducing Terra! Is She Friend--or Foe? Friend! I shouted. Friend!

I have to hand it to Wolfman and Perez. They knew what they were doing. Preying on the knight-in-shining-armor gene thats inherent in every male comic fan (oh, cmon, why do you think we read this stuff in the first place?), they conjured the perfect young lady in distress, then stepped back to watch us put our legs in the metal trap. The first step was done. By introducing her as a victim, they made us feel for her. But then they raised the stakes. Sure, she was in pain, but she was far from helpless. In fact, when Changling tried to come to her aid, she not only refused it, she actually punched him in the face, called him a nerd, and flew away. Think about that a moment. Do you have any idea what a strong female character like that does to a thirteen year-old psyche? No? Then let me back up even further and explain.

In 1981, in the heart of New-York-accent Brooklyn, my biggest social dilemma was deciding between Karen Akin and Ananda Bresloff. The slam books (aka, popularity ratings that were passed around to decide our social fates) were clear: given the choices Good, Fair, and Yuk, both Karen and Ananda had ranked me as Good. Even in fifth grade, Good was a good sign. Now the ball was in my court. How would I rank them? Sure, we had traded slam books at the exact same time, but only a fool ranks someone before they see how that person ranks them. Make no mistake, I mayve been dumb enough to think my knee-high tube socks were cool, and even insecure enough to want to wear a gold Italian-horn charm around my neck even though I was Jewish, but I was nobodys fool. And so, I handed Karen and Ananda their respective slam books.

Did you do the chart? they asked.
Of course, I said.
But when they checked inside, heres what they saw:

Girls -- rank them Good, Fair, or Yuk

Darlene Signorelli - Fair

Randi Boxer - Fair

Danielle Levy - Fair

Ananda Bresloff -

Karen Akin -


Thats right, bubba. I left it blank. Whod they think they were dealing with? I read far too many Lex Luthor stories--every single Adventure Comics digest and the oversized maxi-books--to fall for some simple trap. I wasnt putting my heart on the line until I knew it was a sure thing. And so, armed with my recent Good, ranking, I knew who I was deciding between. Time to make a choice.

Heres how it looked to me in fifth grade: Ananda was really cute, nice, soft-spoken, and really cute. Karen was loud, had a face full of freckles, and thanks to her older sister, seemed to have far more experience than everyone else in the class combined. She knew how to write in cursive before anyone--and told us all what a blowjob was. She was tough too. More important, she made fun of me and pushed me around. Even back then, the choice was clear. Now I just had to break the news.

It was the last day of school in fifth grade at P.S. 206. Id spent weeks going through slam books and leaving Karen and Anandas rankings blank. But today was the day that would all change. In fact, if I summoned the strength in time, I might even be picking my first girlfriend. The clock was ticking toward three. The school year was almost gone. Forever melodramatic, I waited until the final bell rang. I remember putting my little checkmarks in the appropriate columns, then slamming the book shut before anyone got a peek. As we all ran for the doors, flooding into the schoolyard, I handed the book back to its owner. I still remember her flipping through the pages to see my answer. She looked up when she saw it: Karen--Good; Ananda--Yuk. Yet before anyone could even react, I--being the brave young soul that I was--darted from the schoolyard and ran straight home without talking to anyone. The next morning, I left for camp. Two months went by before Id have to face my decision. Was I a puss or a genius? All I knew was, when I returned to Brooklyn in early September, Karen was my girlfriend, even if she did push me around and completely intimidate me.

So whats this have to do with Terra? Simply put, I was a Karen-guy, not an Ananda-guy. Maybe it was young masochism; maybe it was just a love of being dominated--but when it came to choosing sides, back then, I wanted the tough chick. Karen was tough--which is why we broke up soon after. Then, in June of 1983, my dad lost his job and my family moved from Brooklyn to Miami, Florida. When we first arrived, I didnt have a single friend, much less a girlfriend. No Karen . . . no Ananda . . . nothing. It was right around the time Terra joined the Titans. At first glance, she was tough too. And she had super-powers. She mouthed off at Changling and definitely pushed him around. No doubt, she could kick Karen Akins ass. Truthfully, she could kick my ass. And with that soft spot she had from her parents recent death . . . it didnt take three issues for Wolfman and Perez to achieve their goal . . . I was now a Terra-guy.

Laugh if you must, but it was a great infatuation. My fathers generation loved Lois Lane, who always needed her super-man. I loved Terra, who didnt need me, didnt want me, and could pummel me with fifty tons of rock if I really pissed her off. Forget Black Canary in her fishnets. Here was someone my age, wounded by the loss of lost parents and searching for a soulmate. It was a potent combination for us young comic readers. Before Madonna made strong women cool and Gwen Stefani made them hot, Terra was the first official grrl for the new generation. True love indeed.

For the next six months of my life, I watched as the kind, happy family of the Teen Titans welcomed this hardened orphan into their midst. She helped them fight the Brotherhood of Evil, Thunder and Lightning, and even the Titans most feared enemy, Deathstroke. Whatever concerns they had about her were quickly silenced. Month after month, Terra put her life on the line for the team. Within six issues (a lifetime in comics, or a day, depending on the storyline), she was one of the Titans own, enmeshed in their personal lives just as much as she was enmeshed in my own. Then came the final pages of New Teen Titans ..34.

Ill never forget--it was a right-hand page, perfectly placed so the surprise wouldnt be revealed until us readers casually flipped past the DC house ads. I turned the page and there it was: in a rundown tenement, Terra was secretly meeting with Deathstroke! Her face was lit with a dark grin Id never seen on her. My God, they were working together! My eyes stayed locked on her mask, which she twirled carelessly around a come-hither pointer finger. My world was spinning just as fast. It was like Batgirl sleeping with the Joker! She was plotting the Titans downfall with their greatest enemy. I trusted her! I was there for her! And unlike any other comic creation Id ever read, and I say this in the least creepy way possible, I loved her! And now, she was reaching down my throat and ripping my heart out for her own enjoyment! Terra, how could you betray me like this!?

And now, a word from reality . . .. Okay, so it wasnt that bad--but I also dont want to undersell the moment. I can still remember my stomach sinking down to my testicles. In the world of comics, nothing like this had ever happened. Sure, there were always heroes who were later revealed as villains. At Marvel, The Avengers did it every week: There Shall Be . . . A Traitor Among Us! Both Black Panther and Wonder Man were originally there to infiltrate the Avengers . . . The Falcon was created by the Red Skull to kill Captain America . . . even Snapper Carr took a potshot at the Justice League. But the end of those stories was always the same: the so-called villain (Black Panther, Wonder Man, Falcon, Snapper) came to their senses and saved the day. In Terras case, however . . . this girl didnt just infiltrate the Titans--she really wanted to kill them. And best of all, as the months wore on, Wolfman and Perez never backed away from the decision. Indeed, issue after issue, they kept turning up the despicable meter on Terras actions. By the time they were done, Terra wasnt just working with Deathstroke, she was sleeping with him. Lets see Black Panther do that.

For my now-thirteen year-old brain, it was all too much. Dont get me wrong, I wasnt turned off by what she was doing. Cmon, I was fourteen. She was the first true femme fatale in my life. I was turned on. I can still remember the slutty eye-shadow they put on her when she was in villain mode, smoking a cigarette like a young blond Britney Spears doing Marlene Dietrich doing bad Eighties porn. There were even high-heeled pumps scattered across the floor by the (wait for it) beanbag chair. So scary . . . but somehow . . . so naughty. Which brings me back to my old girlfriend, Karen Akin.
In August 1984, Id been living in Florida for over a year. I was now the new kid who sat silently in the middle row of the class. No one knew my name. Sure, Id made a few friends, but it was nothing like Karen, Ananda, or any of the other girls from Brooklyn. All I had was Terra. The only question was: how was it all gonna end?

The final chapter of The Judas Contract was published in Tales of the Teen Titans Annual ..3 during that same summer of 1984. It was titled Finale. By then, all the cards were on the Titans Tower table: Terra was working (and sleeping) with Deathstroke, all the Titans (except for Dick Grayson) were defeated and captured, and Nightwing and Jericho were in the midst of a near-impossible rescue attempt in the heart of H.I.V.E. headquarters. No doubt, it all came down to this. Terra would either remain the villain, or come to her senses and save the day. I still remember looking at the cover, trying to guess the answer. Perez made the choice clear: on one side were all the Titans, on the other was Deathstroke and the H.I.V.E. Terra was in the middle, her head turned back slightly toward Changling, who seemed to be pleading for her redemption. To play with our heads even more, Perez added two worry lines by Terras face, as if she too were struggling with the decision. I made my guess. There was no way Terra was truly evil. Redemption was a few pages away.

Forty pages later, Terra was dead. I shook my head as the scene played out. Changling begged her to come to her senses . . . he pleaded and prayed . . . but Terras rage was all consuming. Remembering the cover, I kept waiting for her to look back at him and see true love. Or hope. Or the family who loved her. But it never came. Eyes wide with insanity, she attacked with a ruthlessness Id never seen in a comic--and in the end, as a mountain of self-propelled rocks rained down and buried her, that rage--literally and figuratively--killed her. I shook my head. Theres no way shes dead, I told myself. I dont care what the omniscient narrator said. I know my comics. Hero or villain, Terra was too good a character. Until they find a body

. . . We found Taras body, Wonder Girl said one page later. I turned to another right-hand page and there was Changling . . . down on his knees, clutching Terras broken corpse as her arms sagged lifelessly toward the ground. Self-destruction complete.

I still cant believe they went through with it. A few years ago, I read an interview with George Perez that said Terra was created to die, and they never planned on taking the easy way out by suddenly writing the happy ending. I hope they know how much that decision affected me as a writer. Old girlfriends and teenage fetishes aside, it was one of the most heartbreaking stories Id ever read. They took people in capes and utility belts and made them real--and just when we loved them most . . . just when we opened our arms to embrace them . . . Wolfman and Perez stabbed icepicks in our armpits and did the one thing neither Marvel nor DC ever had the balls to do--they kept her as a villain and slaughtered her. She was sixteen. No redemption. No feel-good music during the end credits. The pulp side of the genre has it right--its always best when the femme fatale buys it in the end--but in comics, itd never been done. And the traitor side of the story? Wonder Man, Falcon, Black Panther, and even Snapper got honorary memberships. Terra got a headstone with her name on it.

To this day, The Judas Contract is one of the few stories that actually surprised me--not just in its ending, but in how it plucked at my emotions. As I said, Terra lied to me, betrayed me, and stomped on my trust with her six-inch heels. Without a doubt, I loved every second of it.

by Brad Meltzer

Heroes & Studio 60

Finally saw the pilots of Tim Kring's Heroes and Sorkin's Studio 60. And in my own usual I-love-being-the-naysayer-because-it-makes-me-feel-different, I was strangely looking forward to finding them overrated. But they're not. They're great. And let me say this: I'm the far bigger snob about Heroes. Heroes is a world I know far better. Heroes is a world I play in. And Heroes STILL exceeded my expectations. Yes, everyone will say Hiro is the best character. And yes, people will make the LOST comparisons. But by the end, you'll love it for your very own reasons. And you'll start wondering about it. And you'll start coming up with your own theories. And that's the sign of a good show.

Worst part? NBC sent me the shows to see early, so was even extra determined not to shill for them.

Brad

NAMTAB POTS T-shirts and Comicon 2006

Comicon had its usual goodies -- Elvis stormtroopers, the group dressed as the Justice League, and that woman dressed as the White Queen (don't judge, she was in white panties).

But the best goodies: meeting Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. Wein and Wolfman. Two of the most influential voices on my young brain. Between the JLA and the Titans, they ruled my childhood. And the truth is, when they came up and introduced themselves, I literally couldn't speak. I stuttered and started swaying slightly. I've met Hollywood folks and business tycoons -- but these were the two who made me stutter and sway.

The other best goody? Meeting so many of you. Yes, I'm a puss for admitting it, but screw it, it's true. I don't care how uber-cool any writer wants to play it, there's nothing cooler than meeting the people who read your work (no snarky after-joke, no smart-ass P.S.). Thank you for introducing yourselves and for reading the books, comics, etc.

As for the panel, yeah, we gave away free copies of The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, and The Zero Game to everyone who came. Thanks to Warner Books for bringing all the swag.

And finally, for those who asked where to get the "NAMTAB POTS" t-shirts, you can get them here. And all the profits -- everything you buy -- goes directly to ACTOR -- so thanks for the good deed.

Brad