ME* Conference 2010

How One Writer Finds Multiplatform Success for His Projects

Brad Meltzer on Writing for TV and Comic Books, Hosting a TV Show and Working With Porsche

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As marketers constantly wrestle with their multimedia strategy, whither authors and writers? For Brad Meltzer, who has penned novels, TV shows (The WB's "Jack and Bobby") and comic books ("Justice League of America") while also serving as a reality-TV host (History's "Brad Meltzer Decoded"), storytelling is just as much about challenging himself as it is about the right platform.

Brad Meltzer
Brad Meltzer Credit: Pete Kolonia
"When I was a novelist, all the novelists were sneering, 'Why is Meltzer slumming it in comic books?' It wasn't a calculated move; it was just something I liked. Yet if you told me I had to write all romantic comedies, you'd want to put a gun in your mouth," he said in a candid chat with Advertising Age TV editor Brian Steinberg at Ad Age's Media Evolved Conference in New York. "It's always been about trying something and seeing if I can pull it off."

Mr. Meltzer, who has written for 15 different media platforms, has often had to go beyond traditional models to find success with his projects. He left his initial literary agents at Creative Artists Agency years ago after being told to focus on his writing, and later launched "Jack & Bobby" as a screenwriter. More recently, he pitched a project called "Heroes for My Son" to his longtime book publisher, only to be rejected. The children's book was later picked up by Kodak for a custom-publishing deal.

He's also working directly with marketers on his new History series, "Brad Meltzer's Decoded." Porsche, for example, is an integrated sponsor that is also featured during commercial breaks "decoding" its own vehicle design. It's that organic relationship to the show's own deconstruction of historic monuments and events that makes Mr. Meltzer comfortable with the brand's involvement -- so much so he's still waiting for his own Porsche.

"It's not saying, 'Hi, I'm Brad Meltzer and I'd like to have a Coca-Cola.' I've done nothing but beg for a Porsche and they still wont give me one," he said. "It's still a brilliant cross-promotion for them. They still managed to work it in in a way that isn't obtrusive. ... I like when someone pushes that envelope and tries what they haven't done before."

Mr. Meltzer's own affinity for comic books has captured the eye of Joss Whedon, who recently tapped him to write for the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" comic series, as well as fellow novelists. Many novelists have come out of the woodwork as closet comic fans.

"Janet Evanovich leaned over to me and goes, 'I'm a huge Wonder Woman fan. Can you get me a gig with Wonder Woman?" he said.

But to really get a sense of Mr. Meltzer's popularity, go to Bulgaria. Mr. Meltzer recently appeared on "Slavi's Show," the country's most popular chat show, believed to be watched by 80% of all Bulgarians. "When I think of how I was received in Bulgaria, I'm a little disappointed by today's turnout," he said, scanning the crowd at the ME Conference.

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