The novelist and comics writer talks about bringing the first chapter in George R. R. Martin’s epic to the comics page and we bring you a 5-page preview of the first issue!
We brought you news a few weeks back that Dynamite Entertainment would be releasing a monthly Game of Thrones comic based on the wildly popular George R.R. Martin novel of the same name. With Alex Ross and Mike S. Miller providing covers to novelist Daniel Abraham scripts and artist Tommy Patterson’s interiors, we thought we’d check in with Abraham, author of the Long Price of Quiet author about crafting an adaptation of the novel, particularly in the wake of the HBO series.
MTV Geek: What was the appeal of the GoT universe for you?
Daniel Abraham: Apart from it being literally the signature epic fantasy of the generation, which I think commands a certain respect whatever else about the project appeals, George is an amazing writer. The experience of sitting down with A Game of Thrones and falling into that world was so powerful, rich, and complicated that it’s hard to tease apart any one aspect of it and say “that was the appeal.” The characters were great, the setting was immersive and gigantic and mysterious, the plot was riveting. It was epic fantasy done absolutely right. Still is.
Geek: How many issues will the first book take up?
DA: We’re looking at 24 issues of 29 pages each. I’ve got the big trade paperback Game of Thrones, and that puts it at almost one page per page by the end of the thing.
Geek: The novels are pretty dense in terms of defining the world of its characters, fictional histories, genealogies, etc. To what degree were you looking to bring some of that to the book?
DA: To the degree that we could without bogging down the story. Prose novels are always going to be better at some things than a visual medium can be, and the depth of what George did in the book I hard to translate. It’s more important to me that the comic book have clarity than encyclopedic depth. But that said, there are also times when knowing that history is necessary for the story to have the impact that it does. Making sure it’s as simple as it can be, but not simpler is the tricky part.
Geek: What were some of the other challenges of bringing this work to the comic page?
DA: Prying spoilers out of George. There are times when I need to compress some bit of action or reduce the number of characters in a scene just so that the page isn’t confusing to look at, but in order for that to happen, I need to know what’s critical plot and what’s not. As a result, I know a few things about how the series ends and what some of the prophecies in the text mean that I would be shot for telling.
Geek: Who are some of the characters you’ve gravitated towards during the writing of the book?
DA: Hard call. I liked all the characters as a reader years before I started the adaptation. Who doesn’t like Jon or Dany or Tyrion? The thing that adapting the books has made me appreciate more is the smaller characters. Old Nan, for instance, is actually a fascinating and eerie character, but she’s a part of a huge tapestry. It’s easy to overlook her and folks like her.
Geek: Could you tell us a little about your collaboration with artist Tommy Patterson?
DA: Tommy’s brilliant. We looked at a lot of artists when we were putting wheels on this project, and I think there were probably half a dozen really top-notch names. Honestly, not a lot of people have the dedication and skill to pull off something this size. Tommy was in that group, and I think we’re damn lucky to have him. Working with him has been a real pleasure. He’s gone out of his way to be accessible. There are times I’ve caught him online and asked him whether the approach I was taking in the script was something he felt comfortable with, or if I was going too far. And every time, his answer has been that we should aim for the highest standard and then find a way to make it happen. He’s solid and dedicated and fearless. It’s great working with him.
Geek: Did you work with Alex and Mike on the covers in any capacity?
DA: The covers were shown to me early, and my feedback was asked for. I think with those guys, looking on in delight and awe is really the way to go, and I was able to fulfill that role.
Geek: It’d be weird not to ask—to what degree did you pay attention to the HBO series and did it affect your work?
DA: By the time the series came out, I was already several issues into the scripting of the comic, and a lot of my own decisions for how to approach it were set. I paid attention to the series in the sense of watching what someone else came up with when they moved to a visual medium, but I’m not adapting the HBO show. I’m adapting the book. With anything this size and complexity, there are going to be some things I admire about the other adaptation and there are going to be things I disagree with. All in all, I think the HBO show is great work and a fascinating adaptation of the book, but it isn’t what we’re doing over here.
Geek: What else are you working on now?
DA: Mostly, I write books. I’ve got three series out right now under my name and two pseudonyms, so Daniel Abraham, MLN Hanover, and James S A Corey writing epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and space opera. By November, I should have an even dozen books in print. And I’m also writing a few short stories, including one in George’s Wild Cards universe. I’ve got a website at www.danielabraham.com that runs it all down if you want to take a look.
The Game of Thrones comic will hit shelves starting in September.