A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol. 2 and 3 (Random House)

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Continuing the illustrated primer to George R.R. Martin's fantasy epic.

 

 

 

240 pgs. (Vol. 2), 224 pgs. (Vol. 3),  color; $25.00 (each)
(W: George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham; A: Tommy Patterson)
 
Now that I’m a confirmed Game of Thrones junkie, having watched each episode of the HBO series at least twice, I’m seeing the graphic novels in a different light than when I first encountered them. I’m still pretty sure I will never get around to reading the novels, so I appreciate the graphic novels as a sort of Classics Illustrated version of Martin’s original texts. In other words, the graphic novels serve the same purpose for me as Classics Illustrated did for generations of reluctant readers—giving me the story without burdening me with all the detail and refinement of the original text.
 
Of course, I can’t directly compare the graphic novels to the texts they are based on, but they do have a strong Classics Illustrated vibe—efficient presentation of key events and major characters in a reassuringly bright colorful world that is safe for younger readers and doesn’t stray too far from basic fantasy conventions. The characters are less differentiated visually (more cartoony, if you will) than they are in the HBO version, but fortunately there are plenty of contextual clues to make it easy to keep the many storylines straight.
 
It may seem like I’m damning the Game of Thrones graphic novels with faint praise, and in a way I am. They feel more like lengths of wallpaper cut from a roll than individual works, and they’re not essential to understanding the Game of Thrones universe. On the other hand, they’re an enjoyable adjunct for those willing to spend $25 per hardcover volume (and there will be a lot of volumes, because they have been planned out so that there is a page of art for every page in the text).

 

Someone involved with this series may have realized that they needed to provide something extra to make the volumes worth their price, so they have included a really great extra feature in each volume. In volume 2, you get a breakdown of how the “Hand’s Tourney” scene was created, from the original text through scripting, pencils, lettering, and coloring, with commentary by those involved. It’s a real education into the process of making a comic, and will be particularly of interest to those interested in adapting stories to the comics medium. In volume 3, the main extra is a feature on character development in the series, written by Series Editor Anne Groell, and it also offers a useful behind-the-scenes view of the process of creating a graphic universe. | Sarah Boslaugh
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