Fans of George R. R. Martin’s epic series A Song of Ice and Fire have something to look forward to in January. Dynamite Comics is planning another installment in the A Game of Thrones world with the continuing adaptation of A Clash of Kings. The story picks up halfway through the 1998 novel’s narrative after a certain Baratheon brother has been felled, setting Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth on the run while Arya remains in Harrenhal.
Returning to the comic series is writer Landry Q. Walker (Red Lanterns, The Incredibles) along with artist Mel Rubi (Red Sonja, Doctor Strange), colorist Ivan Nunes (A Game of Thrones, Grimm Fairy Tales), and letterer Tom Napolitano (Justice League, Supergirl).
Walker chatted with us about the next installment and what it is like to tackle such an immense work for a different medium.
Deanna Destito: Martin’s work is so incredibly layered. How do you approach something as dense as this when adapting it for a comic?
Landry Q. Walker: It helps that I am very familiar with the work. I’ve been a fan of the series since 2003, give or take. Even then, reading as a reader versus reading to adapt the material… very different experience. I read the book now in stages, and it’s kind of like peeling an onion. I take a chapter and break down the dialogue and basic beats of action. Then I format it so that it’s closer in structure to a comic script. Then I scan for logical page breaks. Then I scan it again for logical panel breaks. Then I edit it down until it all fits into the limited space we have visually. It’s a process, and I usually work on three issues at once. There are some bits that are heartrendingly left to the cutting room floor—we try hard to minimize this. But then there’s also an element of taking note of when the art can tell what Martin told in prose. A balance exists between remaining true to the source and respecting the demands of a visual medium.
Destito: Are you staying true to the book or will you incorporate any deviations that the show made?
Walker: Everything we’re doing is adherent to the book. I haven’t even re-watched any of the TV show since I started this job a few years back. I don’t want to corrupt the process. Although admittedly I often listen to the Game of Thrones OST’s while working.
Destito: As seen with the finale of the series, fans are very opinionated about characters and stories they love. How does the fan reaction affect your adaptation, if at all?
Walker: It doesn’t. We’re locked in with what occurs in the book, and we’re working on the second book of a Song of Ice and Fire. Frankly, I try and avoid some of the more divisive posts about the show. The internet allows a lot of anger to get broadcast. I try and avoid it most of the time especially when it connects to an active project.
Destito: Since this is your second tour in the GoT world with this creative team, do you feel like this time around is easier to navigate for everyone?
Walker: It gets easier. Like, I have a better understanding of what my editor Anne Groell is looking for in terms of retention. She knows the books like the back of her hand, and she knows where things are going. So she’s helped me understand how we need to approach the process in terms of what information is key to the future of the series. It’s also easier in terms of working with Mel and the rest of the art team. I can reference style shifts we used previously as a reference point, rather than explain something from the ground up. At this point I feel like we all work very well together. It’s been three years for most of us! So there’s stuff that starts becoming instinct.
Destito: Who is your favorite character and why?
Walker: I used to have favorites to read… but working on the book kind of tanks that part of the equation. I enjoy the Tyrion/Cersei dynamic—at least at this stage in the series. There is an interesting balance between the hatred they have for each other combined with the sibling familiarity. It doesn’t matter that they’re enemies… there’s more to their relationship than what’s on the surface. I mean, we all know it won’t go well. But at this stage, where there are elements of brother/sister dynamic still…. it’s fun to consider how that affects the body language. How they lower their guard in expression and mannerism once everyone else has left the room.
Destito: Is there a scene, chapter, or story arc that you haven’t tackled yet from the book series that you are looking forward to writing?
Walker: I hear there’s a big battle coming? Some kind of siege. I’m both looking forward to that and terrified of it. I’m a big fan of medieval warfare. So much so that I wrote my own graphic novel for Image Comics called “The Last Siege,” which features a silent 28-page battle with all two page spreads. So yeah, that will be fun. But then you think about the logistics. We have so little space and that chapter deserves giant gate-folds at every turn. It will be a challenge. Rewarding, but still…
George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings #1 is available for preorder this month at your local comic shop and is slated for a January release. Head to Dynamite’s website for more info. Check out Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, ComicsPlus, and more for digital versions.