Entertainment today believes in expanding a creative IP beyond its original format. Comic books are no longer the guilty pleasures of geeks now that famous actors and actresses don the heroic capes on the big screen. Two creative visionaries were brought to the notice of a much wider audience fairly recently – one telling the tale of the world drowned in a zombie apocalypse, while another world dives into the politics of kings with forgotten magical powers rising in the background. Both visions although are not yet complete but have captured the attention of millions. This article delves into what you can experience or avoid, critiquing the different media formats involving A Song of Ice and Fire better known as Game of Thrones (GoT) and The Walking Dead (TWD).
The Original Vision
Game of Thrones (GoT) (Novels) (Read uptil #3- A Storm of Swords): Mr. George R.R. Martin began the series back in 1996 with the first book by the same name as part of a series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Before anything else, I just have to say if this is a song it’s a bloody long ballad and in fact the title GoT captures the essence of the book much better than A Song of Ice and Fire. The series has its fans and naysayers and each has it right, but the series has gained momentum ever since HBO took up its banners (15 million copies sold worldwide, printed in 20+ languages).
A Song of Ice and Fire Series:
Mr. Martin is a wicked storyteller who spins a tale which will make you love him and hate him in equal parts. The characters are what make the series memorable; the plot they go through though is in a single phrase “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” done over and over again, in different flavours of course. Others may feel that Mr. Martin paces himself too slow and they too are right- his writing style makes one feel as if Mr. Martin himself is in love with his creation and goes through a great many pages to deliver descriptions of feasts (I can think of creating at least ten different restaurants with their menus and themes around GoT!) and sometimes even irrelevant details, while readers are pulling their hair out to find out what happens next. Other purists criticize the magic system or the lack of it in the world created by Mr. Martin, but to that I say what is better than magic which leaves readers intrigued. For sure, when things are concluded if Mr. Martin feels up to it he can pen down a magic system as well. With still two more books pending, I can say I haven’t been this excited about a series before this.
Final Verdict: MUST READ!! A suggestion for Bantam and Harper Collins: Check out Raymond Swanland’s work for fantasy novels’ covers and get him to do the covers. The current cover art just plain sucks!!
Raymond Swanland’s Work:
The Walking Dead (TWD) (Graphic Novels) (Read uptil Issue #102): No one’s a stranger to zombies. Enough blood and gore has been spilt on the big screen and on consoles which has polarized audiences. Every year we get sequels of a desolate world and the hunt for a cure or survival. I think somewhere down the line entertainers forgot about the zombies and focused more on some cuckoo global conspiracy. Robert Kirkman’s actual innovation here is how life would actually be in such a world. What better medium to tell the tale than comic books, where you get to read about continuing life in such a world, with images showcasing the savageness of people and monsters. The other innovation in the realm of zombies that Kirkman brought is a focus on characters and how they adapt to the environment and how their views about the world change. Zombies are the background, while characters take center stage.
The Art of TWD:
Like Mr.Martin, Kirkman also utilizes the “frying pan and fire” approach to continue the story and has surpassed 100 issues of the series. The series is a page turner through and through and Mr. Kirkman will make you hate him and love him as he takes you through a tale of survival of the fittest. The approach sounds quite similar to Mr. Martin’s but there is a difference. The characters here are more black and white, and as compared to the politics of GoT here you see the environment shaping the perception of the characters. The series is available in multiple formats, though I prefer the volumes approach since I can’t stop after 31 pages and then wait for another month for the next issue to come out.
Final Verdict: MUST READ!! A suggestion for Kirkman and Image Comics: Come out with a limited edition set with random pages covered in splashes of red.
The Other Format
GoT (Graphic Novel)(Read uptil Issue #6): With the success of the Television Series, Bantam decided to publish the series as a graphic novel. It’s a good format to re-tell the tale but that’s what it is, the same story told in dialogue bubbles and windows. The challenge here is competing with mainstream media that is Television in case of this series. The characters here look nothing like the television series which can be considered a misstep on part of Bantam. Over and above that, the art style is very Walt Disney-ish for a story which is essentially for a mature audience which makes experience dull and almost childlike even with the violence and nudity. From a business perspective, it seems like a good idea to milk an intellectual property for all its worth but other than those who wish to own and experience the series in every format, this particular version will appeal to very few.
The Art of GoT:
Final Verdict: Don’t Bother. If you really want to give it a try, better read the novel first, watch the series and then consider visiting this book. A suggestion for Bantam: Change the art style, get someone new if possible. Do the series in black and white if the artist costs too much but this version just doesn’t cut it. Check out Ben Templesmith’s piece for GoT.
Ben Templesmith’s take on GoT:
TWD (Novel Trilogy) (Read: Rise of the Governor): Mr. Kirkman wanted to expand TWD by offering a novel trilogy around the origin of The Governor. With the visual element of gore taken away what you are left with in terms of violence are the vivid descriptions of different human parts (medical terms no less) getting bashed and sounds such as SPLOTCH and CRACCCKK!! Having no visuals not only takes away TWD’s teeth but also the story as well, though it has its fair share of twists and turns, isn’t as thrilling to warrant a trilogy into the Governor’s past. Maybe it’s just me, seeing the Governor in all his violent savageness already in the original series doesn’t want me to accept him as a human being or maybe I am right about the story being mildly intriguing.
Final Verdict: Try Book #1 if you really are curious about it and see if you like what you read. A suggestion to Mr. Kirkman: We know Daryl and Merle aren’t part of the original series but those two seem to have a past worth exploring if you wish to expand TWD.
Check out Part 2 of the article which covers, the television series and video games spawned by these series