On A Song of Ice and Fire

Same Song in a Different Key

Adapting A Game of Thrones as a Graphic Novel

By Daniel Abraham

When I was first approached about adapting A Game of Thrones to graphic novel form, Anne Groell, the editor who has overseen these books from the start, asked me to write a brief philosophical statement on my approach to the project. It’s been said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. No adaptor’s philosophical statement does either. The opinion I worked out in the page and a half I gave her hasn’t been unmade by the experience of working through the scripts, but it’s been tested and refined and become generally better fleshed out.

Let me give you a little background.

When it comes to prose, I believe that reading is an essentially performative act, where directions given by the author are interpreted by the reader in a series of deeply personal, private, and unshareable acts of imagination. When George R.R. Martin writes something like, “The gods of Winterfell kept a different sort of wood. It was a dark, primal place, three acres of old forest untouched for a thousand years as the gloomy castle rose around it” (A Game of Thrones), each of us as readers comes up with a set of images and smells and abstract emotions that make up that experience for us. For me, there’s a sense of darkness and greenness and buildings glimpsed between tree trunks. Someone else might have more familiarity with oak trees and the smell of forest litter. There’s no reason to think that the things conjured by the text are the same  …

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