Although I love the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, I’ve never given the Game of Thrones comic book series a try. How does it compare to the novel? Could it maybe even enhance the sacred material? Is it good?
A Game of Thrones #18 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Game of Thrones #18 covers the moment Catelyn takes her first steps into Moat Cailin all the way to Varys’s meeting with Eddard. Also featured in the issue is the first time Catelyn and Robb discuss battle strategy and Joffrey’s first court session as king. So yeah, a lot of firsts in this issue.
My initial reaction to the comic taking direct quotes from the book for almost every piece of writing in the issue was kind of negative. I inaccurately predicted that this quote-writing (for lack of a better term) would make for poor reading as it would cause the dialogue and inner monologue to be clunky. As anyone who reads both mediums understands, comics and prose are very different and it would seem as though a direct translation of one into the other (in really either case) wouldn’t be entirely successful. However, the particular style of writing actually makes the comic read better as it makes it feel like source material and not just a direct copy with illustrations. It also relies on art to tell the story a good bit, making it feel like appropriately like a comic book as well.
And while the writing does take a lot from the original, the comic book manages to hold its own as an effective way to deliver the story. Dialogue comes off as a bit unnatural here and there but shouldn’t be scrutinized for that. It really is an art to be able to adapt this wonderful story into a comic and that shouldn’t be diminished by the fact that it is such a faithful retelling. Daniel Abraham picks the right times to write things directly as they were and when to change it up to service the story.
The characters are also very well represented, being both emotionally convincing and true to their prose counterparts. Littlefinger quips just as you would expect him to while Robb and Catelyn play the fiery mother-son duo to a tee. Even the scene where Varys tries to convince Eddard to confess feels emotionally charged, unlike in the show.
Tommy Patterson creates a nicely visualized world with characters rendered the way George R. R. thought them up. It might be a little bit difficult for people familiar with the TV show to understand who everyone is immediately, but I do appreciate that the artist isn’t just drawing clones of the actors from the television series.
My one little nitpick with the art: character’s reactions are very obvious. For instance, in one panel Sansa hears surprising news about Arya and makes a very cartoony surprised face, complete with the gasping hand to the mouth. It just feels a little too pronounced; the artist doesn’t feel like digging any deeper into the emotions to find a facial expression that isn’t just plainly obvious.
Is it Good?
- Faithful, but still entertaining adaptation
- Reads perfectly well for a story that’s made up mostly of quotes
- Doesn’t in any way augment the Westeros mythos or add any additional content that wasn’t in the novels
Although it doesn’t push the Game of Thrones universe to any unexplored places, A Game of Thrones #18 was a faithful and enjoyable adaptation and even standalone source of entertainment. It was nice to revisit a part of the story I read long ago and see the characters I know the way the master scribe first pictured them. I will definitely be around to see the next issue.