Everyone loves A Game of Thrones.
Especially after last night’s HBO episode. Might have been the best one yet!
But that’s not the only George R. R. Martin project that is being released this week. A full-color graphic novel edition of The Mystery Knight, one of the thrilling Dunk and Egg novellas from George R. R. Martin’s A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, publishes tomorrow. Like The Hedge Knight and A Sworn Sword before it, The Mystery Knight is a Dunk and Egg short story that has been adapted to graphic novel form by writer Ben Avery and artist Mike S. Miller. The tale takes place about 90 years before A Game of Thrones begins.
Those of you who read my work here on Unbound Worlds know that I love the Dunk and Egg short stories more than novels of A Song of Ice and Fire. If I could choose between a new short story — The She-Wolves of Winterfell, anyone? — or The Winds of Winter, I would choose the former. Crazy, right?
Until then, I will settle for this new graphic novel and enjoy the hell out of it. I decided to ask artist Mike S. Miller some questions about it, to get into the inner workings of such a cool project.
“Every wedding needs a singer, and every tourney needs a mystery knight.”
Unbound Worlds: The Mystery Knight graphic novel hardcover is in stores this week. It is a comic book adaptation of the George R. R. Martin Westeros short story by the same name. How did you come to work on this awesome project?
Mike S. Miller: Many, many moons ago, I was approached by a fledgling comic book imprint called ‘Roaring Studios’, who had through sheer determination and persistence managed to get George R. R. Martin to grant them the license to the first Dunk and Egg novella, The Hedge Knight. I was recommended to them, and they sought me out to do the book. I agreed, if I could have a heavier hand in the project than just penciling. I ultimately became art director, and pretty much handled most the creative decisions for the book. George is a very loyal guy, and when it came time for the sequels to The Hedge Knight, both The Sworn Sword, and now The Mystery Knight, he wanted me to draw them, and so I did!
UW: Ben Avery is the adapter on the graphic novel, translating George R. R. Martin’s written words to comic book form. Sounds like you have had a hand in those duties as well. How did you and Ben work together to bring such a cool story to life in a new medium?
MSM: When Ben was cutting his teeth on the first novella, I had a much more intimate hand in shaping the book. He hadn’t written for comics much back then, (The Hedge Knight might have been his first professional work) and while I think Ben is a fantastic writer, knowing how to write for an artist’s strong suit is a little trickier than just telling a tale. But that was over 14 years ago, and now Ben just hands in the script, it goes to the editor, and while I might change something here or there, I pretty much follow his lead completely. I’ve worked with Ben on a lot of different projects over the years, he’s one of the great unsung writers in the field. I gave George a handful of writers to choose from, each of whom had been given the assignment of adapting a scene from The Hedge Knight into comics format, and George hand picked Ben. So if George R. R. Martin gives your writing the thumbs up, you know that’s something to be proud of.
UW: I am sure I am in the minority here, but I love Dunk & Egg more than the novels from A Song of Ice & Fire. What about you? And what do you love about Dunk and Egg?
MSM: Dunk and Egg are my children. I do love the ASOIAF books, of course, but there is an intimacy I feel toward Dunk and Egg that is familial. I view ASOIAF through the looking glass. I shape Dunk and Egg in my mind, and on paper. I have a signed book around here from George where he wrote something to the effect of, ‘To Mike, the man who gave Dunk a face’ or something close to that. He told me it’s my Dunk that he pictures in his mind when he writes these stories, so it feels like my work has become part of his creative process, which is hella cool, since he’s my favorite author. There is also an odd symbiosis with my life and the Dunk and Egg tales. While I was drawing the first book, my father died. The next page I had to draw after that event was the page where Baelor dies. The look on his face is the look on my father’s face as I held his hand and he passed away. The first printing was dedicated to him. In the second book, The Sworn Sword, while I was drawing that book, there were massive fires in San Diego, and we were forced to evacuate. The very next page I had to draw after that event was the burning of the forest over the horizon by Lady Rohan. The image of Dunk standing and watching the glowing horizon was drawn from what I had just witnessed the days before. Honestly, I was a little frightened to do the third book in the series… lol
UW: Did you design the characters yourself? Or did you find inspiration from other places outside of the short story?
MSM: I did. Dunk’s face is basically a younger version of the Superman face I had used during my run on Adventures of Superman and JLA, but with that shaggy mop of hair instead of the black spitcurl on Kal-El. I did do one design before I even read the book, based on the design of the original artist they had been using to try and get the license from George, and while it looked nothing like Dunk, we did end up basically using him as Lyonel Lannister. Egg I sort of based on my oldest son Elijah, who was too young at the time to really be reference for a 9 year old, which is why Egg has such a baby face in the first book.
UW: What projects are you working on now?
MSM: I am still drawing the occasional Injustice 2 chapter. I’m the ‘Supergirl chapters’ artist, and those chapters aren’t as dominant as the Batman chapters, so I have time to pursue my other projects. One of which is being the regular cover artist for the A Game of Thrones sequel comic series, A Clash of Kings. As well I’m developing a list of IP’s that I hope to someday develop into a full blown universe, and I’m still plugging away at my slice-of-life Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) inspired comic strip based on my crazy family called Bless this Mess, which I’ve just started uploading to WebToons.com. It’s being published in a few papers and magazines in Europe, and hopefully someday here at home, but I’m only about 200 strips in, and the syndicates here want at least a year’s worth before they’ll look at submissions normally.
Other than that, I attend about 8 conventions a year, selling art prints and doing commissions to supplement my insane desire to actually work on my own properties and feed a family of 7 while living in San Diego. I live a blessed life, and being part of the Dunk and Egg family is just one more thing to be thankful for.
The Mystery Knight by George R. R. Martin, Ben Avery, and Mike S. Miller is in fine bookstores tomorrow! If you love A Game of Thrones but haven’t read the stories of Dunk and Egg, you are missing out!
Winter is coming…