In which I review a comic based on a book by the same name.

A GAME OF THRONES #1
Based on the novel by George R.R. Martin
Writer: Daniel Abraham
Artist: Tommy Patterson
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Cover artist: Alex Ross and Mike S. Miller
Editors: Anne Groell and Tricia Pasternak
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in A Game of Thrones: Once upon a time, George R. R. Martin wrote a book. The book was A game of Thrones and the year was 1996. The epic fantasy novel kicked off the A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series, and it has been well received, even earning a Nebula Award. In 2011, HBO picked up the book and adapted it into a 10-part mini-series that was also well received by fans and subscribers prompting the next book in the series to be picked up for an adaptation as well.

I’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE, RIGHT?

I’m sure I’m going to lose some “geek-cred”, but I have never read A Game of Thrones. In the last 15 years, my time has been spent buried in comic books, scholarly tomes, and writing books for other companies. It’s not that I wouldn’t read this book, I simply need more free time if it’s going to happen. I also haven’t seen the entire HBO series that just wrapped up a month or so ago. It’s not that I didn’t want to watch the entire series, but the TiVo that recorded each episode is in the family room where young kids hang out. Had there not been as much sex and nudity, I’m sure I would have been able to watch each and every episode.

But I did watch the first episode, and I have to say, this issue followed nearly everything in the show. So, I guess that means Daniel Abraham did a good job in adapting the source material, or at least watching the television series close enough to pull the key elements out of the episode and commit it to paper.  I’ll go with a good adaptation of the book.

I had several problems with the first episode of the television series, and I found those same concerns came up when reading this issue. When creating a new cast of characters and setting them in a fantasy world, unfamiliar names and phrases are going to throw the reader off. I don’t want to have to keep a running list of who is who and what is what in order to understand the narrative. I’m sure the original text goes more in-depth, giving the reader more detail of the who, what, when, and why of this world, but that is nearly lost in this adaptation.

Readers are introduced to a large cast of characters, a setting in fantastic lands, and a possible conflict coming at the central character in the very near future. It’s a lot to get through, and will probably take readers at least a second read to get things sorted.

CASTING FAMILY

While I didn’t go to Northwestern for film school, one thing I did learn early on is to not cast “no-name” actors who look a lot alike, because it is going to confuse the audience. When it comes to art, I think that is a rule of thumb that should be taken into consideration. When we are introduced to the family members in this issue, we are easily able to tell the difference between the young redhead son and elder Stark, but the sons are drawn so similar to one another (hair, clothing, build) that the reader quickly gets lost. Realistically, family members do look alike, and I’m not saying one brother should be short, another fat, another blonde, another with dark hair, but distinct characteristics need to be present to make them easily identifiable.

I will say I like Patterson’s style in this book, it’s a bit more loose and “cartoony” than what I expected from a Dynamite book. He goes into great detail in every panel, and the world of the North (and later in Pentos). I like the style, it’s pretty, and I found myself gazing deep into the panels when my mind started to wander when the text became too dense.

BOTTOM LINE: FANS WILL LIKE THIS

Since this is my first true introduction into the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m trying not to be as critical as some fans might be. Though the text needs a second reading to get the characters and the nuances nailed down, it is strangely engaging. The art is wonderful to look at with all the detail contained in each panel, and I’m willing to give this series more of my time. I think fans of the book and television series will enjoy this condensed reading as well, and I’m giving A Game of Thrones #1 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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2 Comments

  1. Ailsa Graystone
    September 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm — Reply

    I’ve read the books but haven’t had a chance to watch the show nor pick up the comic book. From your review I think I will check it out. I really loved the books and if your looking for something interesting then give the book a try.

  2. September 26, 2011 at 11:42 am — Reply

    I’m actually surprised this book scored so high coming from a reviewer who hasn’t read the books. I loved it, but I loved it because of how it interpreted a story I already knew. I was a bit worried that this would miss the mark to readers who were experiencing A Game of Thrones for the first time. I’m curious as to how the characters came across to people who haven’t read the books. One of the reasons I think adaptations fall flat sometimes is because the writers sort of leave characterization up to the source material. However I thought that the writer did a pretty good job of creating depth to these characters, mind you I was already familiar with them. I also love the fact that so far they are taking the story slow. I think this story really loses its epic scale if you burn through it too fast, so I was really pleased with the pacing. My only major gripe was with all of the text. I don’t know if its possible to avoid, but I felt that the art was strong enough to tell more of the story.

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