If you haven’t heard of A Game of Thrones by now, you probably don’t exist. HBO’s hit series has made the books huge, but volume one of A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel stands apart from it. Daniel Abraham has done a fantastic job adapting the book to a visual medium–all the crucial elements of the story, the essentials of the character and plot, are present, with a few non-vital scenes kept for entertainment value and–thank God–no original content.
Unfortunately, in a graphic novel, the writing is only as good as the art, and Tommy Patterson does not do art. He scribbles and doodles, but he does not art. Tommy Patterson’s way of drawing characters is…uncanny. Odd. He doesn’t seem to get facial expressions–a lot of them turn out lumpy and weird, and when adapting a novel that relies heavily on internal monologues, this is a big problem.
In the supplementary information, Patterson claims that he loved drawing “muscled-up dudes” like Khal Drogo, and indeed Drogo looks fantastic; his ridiculous size dominates every other character sharing his panel. But in the same material Patterson claims that drawing Tyrion is easy because he “isn’t handsome, so mistakes almost never happen.” And Tyrion looks royally messed up, apparently possessed of only one facial expression–a grin that looks like a mishmash of Jack Nicholson and the Cheshire Cat–with miniscule and seemingly random alterations between appearances.
Patterson’s art has its moments of promise–a few of his landscapes, such as the prologue north of The Wall and the scene where Ned and Robert go riding, look awesome–but he doesn’t seem to be very aware of the type of story he is drawing. Martin’s novels are about people first, and it’s difficult to take the story seriously when the characters are so bizarrely rendered that they literally distract from the plot. Hopefully Patterson is able to tone down the cartoony characters for later instalments–otherwise, I’d stick with the books and TV show.