Note: Robert Napton is the writer for several Dynamite Entertainment titles including WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS.
Everyone is enjoying Game of Thrones. Now available in different media, has there been any problems adapting the novels for comics?
GAME OF THRONES #17 is on sale this week. Here's what writer Daniel Abraham had to say.
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN’S A GAME OF THRONES #17
Tommy Patterson (a)
Mike S. Miller (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99 • Mature
News of Eddard Stark’s arrest for treason has spread to Castle Black, where Jon Snow finds that the onus of bastardy is nothing compared to being the son of an accused traitor. But that is the least of his problems. For the frozen corpses of two rangers, brought back for examination, prove lively enough to commit murder. Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Robb Stark calls his bannermen and marches south . . . Though the wildling woman Osha argues that the real fight lies to the north, against the mysterious Others. But with Eddard and Sansa held hostage, Robb knows that only victory on the battlefield can save them.
ROBERT NAPTON: Daniel, you and George RR Martin had quite a task before you adapting the novel Game of Thrones into a comic. What was your overall strategy for turning such a rich and detailed masterpiece into a sequential art story?
DANIEL ABRAHAM: We talked a lot about how to go about the adaptation right from the start. The act of translating the novels into a new format opened up a lot of possibilities, both with how much to depart from thew original and what would serve us to keep intact. We even kicked around the idea of adding new story lines into the adaptation.
In the end, the strategy I felt most comfortable with -- and this was a consensus with everyone on the team -- was to be as faithful to the original story as we would be, given the constraints of the medium. There are some things that just won't translate, but to the degree we can manage it, the adaptation is the same Song of Ice and Fire that George made.
RN: What are have been some of the biggest challenges thus far? Any plots or characters prove more difficult to translate to comics than you expected?
DA: Daenerys Targaryen was a fascinating set of problems, actually. Her story is at the heart of the books, and she's many, many people's favorite character for very good reason. But the novels are evoking periods in history and social and sexual norms that aren't at all like what we experience in the society of the United States, where George and I are writing it and Tommy is drawing it. In the books, Dany -- like Juliet -- is 13 years old. Her story is explicitly sexual, and the power she gains and loses in the course of the first book is built around her sexuality and her role as a wife and mother. Balancing her age in the novels with the sexuality of her storyline was what the mathematicians call "nontrivial."
RN: Obviously the enormous success of the television series has brought new people to the novels and the comics. Did you feel any need to have the comic echo the television series or did you approach as a straight adaptation of the novel?
DA: We specifically avoided echoing the HBO series, and there are a number of reasons for that. First off, we don't actually have the rights to adapt the TV show, so there's that. Beyond that, though, the constraints of our adaptation and the constraints on HBOs are actually different in some interesting ways. With film, managing huge set pieces means hiring (and wrangling) thousands of extras, building massive sets, and a huge outlay of time and effort. For us, it's the same ink Tommy would use for something else. By adapting the books instead of the series, we don't wind up with any of those kind of legacy decisions, and we can really focus on doing the work that we're doing.
RN: Tommy Patterson's beautiful artwork seems like a perfect fit for this adaptation. Can you talk about what Tommy brings to this project as an artist?
DA: We were very lucky to get Tommy. One of the things I've really come to appreciate in the course of this project is how much the writer is secondary to the artist in the tone and scope of this kind of project. George made the story, but I feel like the experience of that story is really driven by the decisions and expertise that Tommy's brought to the pages. If anything, I think I'm his support staff.
RN: What would you like Game of Thrones fans to experience from the comic that's different from the novel or television series?
DA: The thing that I think the comic -- like the television show -- has to offer is one particular vision of the novels. Everyone who reads the books will, of course, imagine something a little different. That's what's cool about books. The comic book takes on some of that imaginative load by putting images to the scenes -- our version of the Vale of Arryn, our version of Winterfell -- and offers that up to the readers. And because people see and interpret art differently than they do television drama, there are connections we can draw and choices we can make that aren't available elsewhere. Comics have an idiom all their own, and the experience of story that they provide isn't something that can be done elsewhere, either in straight prose or in theater. Game of Thrones is rich and deep and complex enough that I think it does well in all the media, and each treatment of it enriches and comments on the others.
RN: Thanks, Daniel. I'm a big fan of what you and George have done with the comic, so it's been great to talk to you.
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN'S A GAME OF THRONES #17 AND WARLORD OF MARS: DEJA THORIS #31 are on sale Wednesday, October 30, 2013.
Robert Place Napton is a comic book writer who has worked for such publishers as Image, Top Cow, Random House, and of course, Dynamite. His numerous projects for Dynamite Entertainment include the monthly series Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris. Before that he wrote Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom, Warriors of Mars, Thun'da, Blackbeard: Legend of the Pyrate King, and Battlestar Galactica Origins: Adama.