In September 2011, about 5 months after HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones debuted, Dynamite Entertainment began releasing the comic series A Game of Thrones, adapted by Daniel Abraham, with art by Tommy Patterson. The indefinite article is significant: unlike the TV series–which is attempting to adapt the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series, but mysteriously chose to exchange the book series’s title for (most of) the title of the first novel–the comic’s intention is (so far) to adapt only the first book, into 24 issues of 32 pages each. And the comic’s mission is almost complete, with issue 32 hitting stores last month.
Meanwhile, Bantam has been collecting 6 issues of the comic series at a time and publishing them as volumes in A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel. Volume 3, collecting issues 13-18, also came out last month.
I’ve gone into all this detail, because I didn’t quite know what to make of these graphic novels when I picked up Volume 1 a few months ago, and I needed a little background to figure out how to situate them between the novels and the TV show. I also bring up the complicated history in part to explain why, although I’ve been quite enjoying the graphic novels, I won’t be publishing an official review of them. We only publish current reviews on this blog, and I can’t quite bring myself to review Volume 3 by itself–it doesn’t make much sense without the first two and ends on a tremendous cliffhanger, requiring the soon-to-come fourth volume. Plus, I really can’t be sure how much my knowledge of the TV show has influenced my ability to make sense of the incredibly complicated plot.
Nevertheless, you should buy these for your teen collection. Abraham (who, by the way, is one half of the writing team behind James SA Corey’s The Expanse, which we reviewed the first two volumes of) has done an amazing job of splitting the difference between the novel and the TV show, offering visual, highly accessible experience like HBO, but providing far more detail from the books. Here’s where I admit a dirty secret: I’ve never read the novels. I know! But I’ve spent a lot of time with people who have (including my wife), and I’ve spent many hours poring over the back matter in the novels, with all that great heraldry business (hey, I’m a librarian–I love backmatter). So I can’t speak to the comic’s fidelity to the novels, but I can say that it is fabulously more detailed than the TV show, and the added detail makes sense of many issues which troubled me watching the show. And the comic is certainly a great place to send teens who (like me) love the TV show but are not quite willing to give up their lives to reading several thousand pages of the same story.
Patterson’s art, meanwhile, is not among the best I’ve seen in a graphic novel–it’s a bit blocky, and he’s not great with facial expressions. But it has its strengths, among them the ability to stay closer to Martin’s descriptions of his characters than the TV show (which has to deal with the pesky business of finding real humans who look like characters), although I miss the smirking face of Jack Gleeson as the slimy Joffrey.
All in all, I very much look forward to Volume 4′s publication, and I hope Abraham and Patterson decide to continue on to A Clash of Kings.