A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1 (Bantam)

Can’t stand the weekly wait to get your Westeros fix? This graphic novel adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy frachise offers a fresh way to feed your fix.

 

 

240 pgs., color; $25.00 hardcover
(W: Daniel Abraham, from George R. R. Martin; A: Tommy Patterson)
 
I’m a latecomer to A Game of Thrones, having watched the first two HBO seasons in a mad rush a few weeks ago. Recent converts are often the most zealous supporters, of course, and I count myself among them, with one major proviso—I doubt that I will ever get around to reading the George R. R. Martin novels. No offense to them or their fans, but 600+ page books unrelated to my work are a low priority for me these days. Anyway, I was looking around for other ways to feed my craving until the new season begins, and discovered that the novels were also available as comics, with those comics collected into bound volumes.
 
That’s a long explanation for how I came to be reading volume 1 of A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, but the real point is that I found the first volume, which collects the first six issues of the comic, to be a good read and sufficient to tide me over until the new HBO season gets underway. Writer Daniel Abraham wisely chose to concentrate on action, abstracting key moments from the various storylines, and counting on the reader to be able to put it all together. It seems to me that anyone attracted to these comics would already be familiar with the basic plots and characters from either the novels or the HBO series, so the comics act almost as an aide-memoire, letting you recall what you already know. The comics are based on the novels, so you will notice some differences if you are only familiar with the HBO series, but I didn’t have any problem keeping up.
 
Tommy Patterson’s art is of the basic heroic fantasy variety, all “days of old, when swords were bright and steeds were prancing,” as Edward Arlington Robinson once put it, but that approach is a good fit to the series. Colorist Ivan Nunes has a taste for golden skin tones, which creates an odd effect with blonde characters like Dani—they can look more like idealized golden statues than living people—but you quickly get used to that quirk so that it is no longer distracting. There are a few impressive splash pages where Patterson gets to show off, but mostly the art serves the storytelling, and with so much story to get through, most frames have a strong narrative element.
 
The basic presentation seems a bit prettified in comparison to the TV version, but I don’t know if that’s truer to the spirit of the novels, meant to make the comics more appropriate for younger readers, or if it’s just an artistic choice. The general feeling in the comics is of a noble time and place, with a few treacherous people in it, rather than the “nasty, brutish, and short, especially if you’re female” feel of the HBO series.
 
There’s only one extra in the volume, but it’s a good one—a 44-page “making of” section with input from series editor Anne Groell, Abraham and Patterson. You can see some excerpts of the comics here. | Sarah Boslaugh
 
Click here to read a different take on A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel from PLAYBACK:stl’s Elizabeth Schweitzer.

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