In today’s cable-dominated landscape of TV drama, two shows tend to rise above the pack in terms of fan devotion: AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Despite wildly different subject matter, the two shows have traveled fairly similar paths in several respects, right down to both being based on popular written source material and Thrones debuting less than six months after Dead’s premiere. Another factor both shows have in common is close involvement from their creators, with TWD creator Robert Kirkman executive producing and writing for its TV adaptation and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin serving as a producer and consultant on GOT.
Such similarities aside, Walking Dead and Game of Thrones each operate in their own realm, rarely airing opposite each other and often steering clear of any real competition between the two juggernauts. That was until a recent Kirkman interview, in which he saw fit to take a shot at Martin.
Kirkman’s response came after he was asked by Rolling Stone whether or not he has a specific ending for the comic book series in mind:
“For the books? I do. I know how the story wraps up. The big question is when and how far in the distance that is. But I think that most people think, oh, why would he end it? It’s so successful, he’s going to keep throwing s*** at the wall to keep it going. And that’s not going to happen. You’ll eventually be able to see that it all kind of comes together.”
Kirkman was then asked whether or not he would consider telling the TV writers what he has planned for the books, specifically the ending of the series. He had an answer for that as well:
“I would never do that. That’s the one thing I’m disappointed in George R.R. Martin for doing. He should have just been like, F*** you. You make it up now, I’ll get to mine when I’m ready.”
While Kirkman isn’t really expressing a sentiment not already shared by some of Martin’s fans, it still feels a bit odd that he would throw an unprovoked jab at a fellow author. On one hand, Martin’s insistence that Thrones’ writers stay mostly in step with his literary plot points while also taking ages to finish his books means that seasons 6 of Game of Thrones and beyond will effectively serve to spoil the final A Song of Ice and Fire novels years before fans get to read them. On the other, it feels a bit cheap for Kirkman to express disappointment in Martin, as every author has their own preferences and idiosyncrasies.
Additionally, Kirkman came into his series in a more advantageous position from a timing standpoint, having already penned 72 issues of The Walking Dead prior to its TV premiere, and pumping further volumes out at such a high rate that it will be years before the screen version catches up to its comic book counterpart. Martin had only written four books before Thrones’ HBO arrival, with a fifth being published later that same year. Not to diminish the hard work that goes into a comic, but most authors — excluding the wildly prolific types like Stephen King — tend not to be able to knock out 1000+ page books at the pace Kirkman writes The Walking Dead.
Whether one novel should take five years to write is another debate entirely. Just because Kirkman is comfortable with The Walking Dead’s TV series going in other directions than the source material, doesn’t necessarily mean every author will or should feel the same way. It’ll be interesting to see if GRRM chooses to offer a response to Kirkman’s disappointment in the coming days.
The Walking Dead returns for season 7 this fall on AMC. Game of Thrones season 6 airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.
Source: Rolling Stone