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We're Number One...

greyjoy
... in graphic novels.

The second volume of the GAME OF THRONES graphic novel debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list:

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2013-06-30/hardcover-graphic-books/list.html

(And, hey, the following week's list is out, and we're still number one).

My thanks and congratulations to Daniel Abraham (who wrote the script) and Tommy Patterson (who drew the pictures) and Mike S. Miller (who did the covers). They do all the real work on this one. This is their triumph, much more than mine.

I'm glad so many of you are enjoying the funny book.

Comments

kyojintitan
Jul. 6th, 2013 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I hope you won't mind me saying something critical: I'm only saying it because I really respect the things you've had to say about gender and race and social justice issues, and so I want to urge you to give a little more thought to this one.

I don't know if you've been following any of the kerfuffles that have been going on for months now related to the Martells' casting, but some fans of color have written really eloquent stuff about how rarely they get to see themselves represented in media, especially in the fantasy genre, and how that's affected them. People who burst into tears when they realized the hero of A Wizard of Earthsea looked like them, that sort of thing.

For a lot of those people, the portrayal of Dorne was really important. They're reading this series that's totally grounded in European history, so understandably most of the main characters were white and they're OK with that, but they could at least see themselves represented as cool, proactive characters in the Martells and the Sand Snakes. Maybe you meant for the Martells to be Greek/Italian/etc., but a lot of South Asian, Middle Eastern, North African and dark-olive-skinned Latino fans interpreted salty Dornishmen as looking like them, which I think is a reasonable interpretation of the text if not the only possible one. (I personally didn't link salty Dornishmen with any specific real ethnicity, but I did think it was pretty clear they were visually distinct from other Westerosi, which is why I was disappointed to see HBO cast a guy who wouldn't look out of place playing an Andal from the Vale, Chilean or not.) For those people, the Dornish characters were the one place they could see themselves in the text, and they were really hoping to see that reflected onscreen. The fact that a couple of other characters have been turned black who weren't in the books isn't much consolation – Salladhor is nowhere near as prominent, Xaro's being turned into a black guy coincided with his also being transformed into a traitor who betrayed Dany and was killed, Missandei's a servant. So for a lot of people it's really important to see people of color as the major Dornish characters.

The thing that makes this all tenser is that a lot of other fans who aren't sympathetic to the desire for diversity have reacted to this with really astonishing hostility and, TBH, racism. I have seen a lot of flat-out racial slurs hurled at fans who said that they aren't white and it's important to them that Oberyn isn't either. I've seen people claiming that anyone who thinks it's problematic to cast white actors in the roles of non-white characters is racist against white people. It's really, really sickening. And the disappointing thing about what you've posted is that, while it's perfectly reasonable on its face, I've already seen a lot of those people seizing on it as some kind of vindication of their racist point of view and using as it an excuse to gloat – see? Oberyn was always supposed to be white! People who wanted him to be Middle Eastern were the real racists all along!

So I'm not trying to convince you to recant what you've said here – obviously if you pictured the Dornishmen as Mediterranean there's nothing wrong with that in itself (and North Africans are also Mediterranean, you know!). And I realize you're not going to want to directly criticize the makers of the show, who've done a fantastic job with most aspects of your work. But I would urge you to spend some time looking into some of the criticisms people have had, especially that written by fans of color about why having dark-skinned Dornishmen on the show is important to them. The podcast Fat Pink Cast has had some great stuff to say on this, as have Racebending, ASOIAF University, nobodysuspectsthebutterfly and allerasphinx over on Tumblr.

Anyway, whatever you think on all this, I hope it hasn't offended you, and all my love and gratitude for the amazing work you've done.
grrm
Jul. 7th, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
You haven't offended me, though obviously we have some disagreements.

About "Mediterranean," for sure. Yes, one can argue that anyone living in a country that borders on the Mediterranean Sea is a Mediterranean, but that's not the way the word is usually understood. In common usage, it refers to the countries of southern Europe, and not even all of those. France is not usually spoken of as a Mediterranean country, despite the Riviera. Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco are usually spoken of as North African countries. Egypt, though it is also in North Africa, is more often referred to as Middle Eastern or Arabic. I live in New Mexico, which is about as far south as a state can be and still be part of the United States. And yet New Mexico is not part of "the South," not counted as a "southern state." Virginia, considerably further north, IS a "southern state." These terms are not meant to be taken literally.

Yes, I pictured the "salty Dornishmen" as looking Mediterranean (I also had the 'sandy Dornishmen,' fwiw), but if some of my readers want to picture them with darker skins, that's fine. The picture in the author's head and the picture in the reader's head don't always match, and really, there's no reason they should. That's one of the great things about books. The reader is part of the process. No two readers see the character the same way.

That does not work in television, for reasons too obvious to belabor. Casting is a long, tough process, and all kinds of factors come into play. The important thing is finding the best actor. Now, granted, there are a lot of good actors out there. You try to pick the best one for your own show, from the pool of those you can actually get. (A much smaller pool than the ones the fans draw their wishlists from). We have had many casting controversies with GAME OF THRONES. Nikolai Coster-Waldau's nose was too big to be Jaime. Lena Headey was insufficiently blonde to be Cersei. Peter Dinklage was too tall to be Tyrion. Gwendoline Christie was too pretty to play Brienne. Yet here we are now, and it's impossible even for me to imagine any one else in those roles.

I expect the same will be true of Pedro Pascal. A year from now, I hope, Pascal will BE Oberyn Martell.

I do agree that the hostility and anger that this issue has triggered has been deeply disturbing. Mind you, I have seen it from both sides. Some pretty nasty things have been said about David, Dan, me, and even Pedro Pascal, who hasn't done anything more than audition for a role and win it. Which doesn't excuse the crap being thrown the other way by those who support the casting. It would be nice if we could discuss these issues calmly and reasonably, in an atmosphere of mutual respect, without the vitriol... but in this age of the internet, that's more than anyone can expect, especially on cesspools like twitter and tumblir.

Let me conclude with this. While I stand by my previous descriptions of Prince Oberyn and the salty Dornish, and support the casting of Pedro Pascal, I hate to disappoint any of my readers, and I am sympathetic to their desires to 'see themselves' in the text.

The text -- the NOVELS -- are actually the only thing I control, but I can say, with some certainty, that there will be people of color therein. Salladhor and Xaro are white in the books, true, but I have some interesting new characters coming forward (not viewpoints, admittedly, but cool, I hope) you may like, and there will be more of Strong Belwas, Moqorro, Missandei, Irri, Jhiqui, the bloodriders, many other Dothraki, Chataya and Alayaya, Jhalabar Xho, and the captain and crew of the Cinnamon Wind.

They may not all come to good ends, mind you, and some will be deeply flawed, and some will be minor players... but they will be there, in living color, for good or ill.



polkadotsnplaid
Jul. 8th, 2013 02:47 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Many ASOIAF fans on tumblr are women who don't feel comfortable at or have been driven from less inclusive ASOIAF forums elsewhere. It's unfortunate and disheartening to see you dismiss us all as just part of "a cesspool."

The tumblr-based ASOIAF community is far from perfect - what social media platform, Livejournal included, doesn't have its fair share of rude/disrespectful people? - but it is, for the most part (I say this as someone who got into your series BECAUSE of Tumblr and has spent nearly 2 years on that site almost exclusively to celebrate and talk about the series) inclusive, positive, and a great place to go for in-depth discussion of characters major or minor, plotlines, your love of a certain House, theories, etc.


grrm
Jul. 8th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Well, I am not on tumblir, as I said, so perhaps I have the wrong impression of it... but whenever anyone sends me screencaps or quotes from the discussions there, I see a level of ugliness way beyond what I see on LiveJournal. Are tumblir discussions moderated? My own experience has taught me that unmoderated sites inevitably bring out the very worst in people.

Are you telling me that the tumblir community is largely made up of women? If so, that's something I didn't know. There are, of course, many female I&F and GOT fans on Westeros, Winter Is Coming, Tower of the Hand, and the other major sites... are you saying that tumblir is made up of women "driven" from those sites?

These are not rhetorical questions. Honestly, so far as I know, the only people being expelled from Westeros of the other sites I've mentioned are ones who have engaged in trolling, spamming, or abusive behavior of one sort of another.
polkadotsnplaid
Jul. 8th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
That’s unfortunate that you’ve only seen the ugly side of the website—but in my experience, that’s hardly the majority. Tumblr is unmoderated, although people can be reported for abuse to Tumblr staff who then can decide whether or not to suspend a blog. While the ugliness is certainly a downside, it also offers a platform where fans can speak their minds without fear of being censored (or censured) for having the “wrong” opinion. I know of more than a few people who have left Westeros and other fandom sites because they felt they couldn’t freely voice their (non-abusive, respectful) opinion.

In the same way that not having a moderator can bring out the worst in people, in my experience, it can also bring out the best—while there can be arguments for sure, the worst commenters and bloggers are usually repudiated by Tumblr fandom and the message is generally clear: trolling/rudeness/disrespectfulness is not welcome here. What people do on their own blogs is their own business—but once you start trying to cause upset in the fandom community, it isn’t generally viewed as acceptable.

The majority of the ASOIAF/GoT fandom on Tumblr is women – ones who, while certainly enjoying the men in your series, take lines like “the women are the strong ones” to heart – both in our love for your female characters and as inspiration. I have never seen more passionate, eloquent defenses of characters like Sansa and Cersei, for instance, who often get dismissed by fandom at large for simply being “mean” or “a bitch.”

I personally have met some of my best friends on Tumblr because of our love for the minor characters and houses in your series. We spend our time not flinging abuse at people for having different opinions than ours, but discussing what Jorah Mormont's relationship with his father might have been like before his exile, speculating on the prophecies and mythology of the series and what that might mean for future books, or making graphics and fan art depicting scenes described in the books that will likely never make it to the TV screen (Lyanna and Ned at the Tower of Joy, Jason Mallister bending the knee to the Freys, etc.)
ashayatara
Jul. 9th, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
The Tumblr ASOIAF community is incredibly passionate, even as ASOIAF fans go. Tumblr as a platform is one that allows great creativity from users. Users can make text posts full of analysis, if that is their way of expressing themselves, or they can create photo posts with graphics made by themselves. The latter is largely not supported or prevalent in other communities, save Livejournal. Tumblr also includes tagging functionality, which can allow users to have pages of analysis, pages of minimalist art based on ASOIAF, pages about the show, etc. An example would be Minimalist ASOIAF

Personally, I use both Westeros and Tumblr, for different purposes. Yes, I have often seen vitriol from Westeros members directed at other communities; I have even seen people create Tumblr blogs purely to insult people, tagging them in incendiary ways so as to gain attention. That said, I also feel that those people spewing hate are an extremely vocal minority. Just as I don't judge Westeros for the few, nor do I judge Tumblr, Twitter, or Reddit. So I use all of them, and hate on none. :)

Your remarks calling Twitter and Tumblr cesspools certainly gave people ammunition to continue these 'website wars', or whatever this nonsense is. I was pleased to see your clarification saying that you were mostly referring to the unmoderated nature of those sites. I'm sure a lot of other fans were relieved to know you weren't disparaging all of us on Twitter and Tumblr.
Bobby Schmidt
Jul. 9th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Tumblr has a lot of extremes. It's a fine place for discussion and free thought, but many do take advantage of that... within and around many fandoms. The anonymous feature doesn't help this, either. There is so much anonymous hate on Tumblr and trolls just looking to evoke some sort of reaction from people... be it with insults, differing views, spoilers, and so forth. I have come across some great ASoIaF posts and had some private discussions about the novels on Tumblr as well, but have also seen the worst, which can at times be described as a cesspool. I do agree, that moderated forums are often the better choice, yet if you can avoid or ignore the dark spots, there are definitely some positive and loyal fans there.
nightlysparks
Jul. 8th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
By "driven," I believe the poster above means that Tumblr users have felt unwelcome on other sites - not that they have been expelled.

I would encourage you to take a look at the sites that others have recommended - they are great examples of meta, of passionate women (as the fandom there is for the most part women) that really do love to engage with the series.
suethepirate
Jul. 9th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I apologize for the members of the Tumblr community that have given you an overwhelmingly negative impression. It seems that the screencaps you've seen may have been the rarer examples, and not the great examples of humor and analysis that Tumblr regularly produces. The Tumblr blogs recommended above are a great place to poke around if you're ever curious to see what the fandom over there has to offer.

While there are times we may be critical, there should never be any harassment or a bullying attitude, and I find that the Game of Thrones/ASOIAF fandom on Tumblr is especially good about not tolerating and encouraging that behavior, amongst themselves or toward the cast. However, some of the remarks I saw about Pedro Pascal during the casting ruckus did make me wince and I apologize if he caught wind of them.

That said, Tumblr's ASOIAF fandom is strongly female as they have noted, and it has created a unique experience for me as a fan of your work. I'm a moderator over at WiC, and the difference between the venues is striking. While I love WiC, I also love Tumblr for the differences. On Tumblr, there is thorough analysis of the political nuances of A Song of Ice and Fire, the historical parallels, the costuming of the show, how it relates to our modern world and politics, and more. (And sometimes there's just incredibly funny and raunchy memes.)

For what it's worth, I have known some people expelled from websites not for abusive behavior but for challenging a rule they believed was unfair. But most of the time, the issue is that people are not formally expelled but driven out by being made to feel unwelcome by bullying that often held a misogynist tinge.
So in conclusion: Tumblr is like any place- not all good or all bad, but what we make of it.

Edited at 2013-07-11 03:09 am (UTC)
yagathai
Jul. 9th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Hi George. While it's tough to say definitively whether tumblr-based ASOIAF fan blogs are largely women, anecdotally and in my experience they do tend to be so. And there are plenty of them (again, anecdotally and in my experience) that feel unwelcome at Westeros, etc. for a variety of reasons, often because the massive population of those sites leads to a diversity of viewpoints that are often in open and dramatic conflict. Tumblr fan circles tend to be more self-selecting, like Livejournals, making it easier to be a fan having dialogue with other fans on your choice of level, without having to deal with viewpoints perceived as offensive. Westeros in particular has a reputation (somewhat though by no means completely deserved, in my opinion) of being full of your more traditional fantasy fan, who lack... nuance.

I don't want to minimize the experiences of the folks that feel unwelcome at Westeros, &c as being overly sensitive or dramatic. Sure, there's some of that, but to be fair there are a lot of loudmouth jackasses on the Westeros boards. It doesn't help that the partner of the site owner and moderator has been repeatedly, openly and viciously hostile and contemptuous to and of fans of certain viewpoints.

You know me - I relish the opportunity to wade in with both fists swinging. But there are many that just don't want to slough through the often gender-based ugliness that results in, say, attempting to defend Sansa as a character or discuss the way that alternative sexualities are portrayed through the POV-based prism of cultural relativism.
qasr_e_shirin
Jul. 10th, 2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Tumblr is by no means a perfect website. Some users think it's perfectly acceptable to tell people to kill themselves for disagreeing about their opinions on anything (whether it's pop culture or politics) but a lot of other tumblr users call them out that and that kind of behavior wasn't unknown on LiveJournal.

I only speak for myself, here, but I left Westeros.org because I was tired of seeing posts about how Sansa and Catelyn deserved to be sexually assaulted. If that's someone's opinion, they're certainly entitled to it, but it's one I'd rather not read.
grrm
Jul. 11th, 2013 01:48 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
If Westeros ever did allow "rape Sansa" posts, I suspect it was a long time ago. Admittedly, I don't follow the fan sites, I have too much else to do, but I can't imagine Elio and Linda and X-Ray and their crack team of moderators letting such posts stand today. There is much to be said for moderated forums.
TopherOuta518
Jul. 11th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I have been on Westeros for about a year and have never seen any type of "rape Sansa" topic. Sansa is very loved around there. There has been an increase of people joining to start trouble, but Elio, Linda, and all the rest of the mods are great with that type of stuff. I'm not sure why so many people are put off by Westeros, but it really is a great place.
nocuzzlikeyea
Jul. 9th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I was a sad and lonely Sansa fan for years until I found Tumblr. There is a lot of victim-hating in the fandom when it comes to Sansa, and many people on Tumblr vocally support her and place the blame on her abuser, Joffrey.

Much of what I've found in the Tumblr GoT fandom has a "feminist slant" by which I mean "interprets female characters as fully realized human beings rather than objects to be manipulated by male characters, and then hated when they fail to adhere to those manipulations perfectly."
grrm
Jul. 9th, 2013 05:42 am (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
I had no idea. Thanks.

That being said... if readers want to hate my characters and argue about them, I take that as a compliment. It means I've made them real enough to evoke strong emotions.

It's when the attacks move from my fictions to actual living breathing human beings that I get troubled.
nocuzzlikeyea
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:22 pm (UTC)
Re: House Martell Casting
Wow, I'm so happy to have received a response from you. I admire your work a great deal, and participating in this fandom has been such a rewarding experience for me.

You have written a wide range of female characters who show a great deal of agency despite the society they live in, which absolutely drew me into this series. They certainly ARE realistic enough characters to inspire strong emotions, even hatred. And I am totally okay with meeting fans who hate Sansa because she's naive, idealistic, painstakingly courteous, but also has inconveniently timed moments of rebellion and stubbornness.

When I run into fans who hate Sansa because she isn't more grateful Tyrion didn't rape her (or who think Sansa "owes" Tyrion sex because he's such a great guy), fans who think Cersei "deserves" to be hit by Robert because she's ambitious, then I have a problem. And discussions like that are what drove me out of the more mainstream ASoIaF discussion boards.

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