Comic-Con 2014: George R.R. Martin says he’s the first comic book fan

July 25, 2014 | 8:24 a.m.
George R.R. Martin (HBO)

George R.R. Martin. (HBO)

His name may be mostly associated with fantasy these days, thanks to HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” but George R.R. Martin and comic books go way back. Way, way back.

“I’m actually the first comic book fan,” Martin told the crowd at a Comic-Con panel dedicated to his comic book work on Thursday.

As a young comic fan in 1964, Martin attended the first comic book convention ever held in New York City, attended by what he remembers as 30 people. He met Flo Steinberg and Steve Ditko there, but more importantly, he said, he was first in line and received a badge designated “#1.”

“All of you are my children,” the author told the crowd. “God help me.”

George R.R. Martin's 1989 novella "Skin Trade" has been adapted into a comic book by Avatar Press.

George R.R. Martin’s 1989 novella “Skin Trade” has been adapted into a comic book by Avatar Press.

While the discussion never strayed into the current status of “The Winds of Winter,” the highly anticipated sixth book in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, Martin did reveal that he’s always been tardy when it comes to handing in his stories.

In fact, back when he was a mid-level writer in the late 1980s, he blew the deadline to get his novella “Skin Trade” finished for the anthology “Night Visions,” which was also scheduled to include new work by Stephen King.

“I blow deadlines all the time,” Martin said. “It’s nothing new.”

Martin was there to discuss “Skin Trade” and a second novella, “In the House of the Worm,” which have both been adapted into comics by Avatar Press.

“Skin Trade” was described by Martin as being about a “detective werewolf in a decaying Midwestern city.” “Worm” was heavily influenced by Jack Vance’s “Dying Earth” stories and is set in a “far, far future” where the last remnants of humanity have retreated into a vast underground bunker.

The author is currently a worldwide celebrity, but he didn’t spend a lot of time talking about his present career during his panel appearance. Instead, he reminisced about his early fandom and lamented the fact that he couldn’t walk the convention floor of Comic-Con anymore without security.

“I don’t want to complain about that,” he was quick to add. “Most writers would give their left leg to have that.”

And Martin himself was no doubt one of those writers at one time. In fact, while reminiscing about “Skin Trade” he recalled his decade working as a TV writer in Hollywood, from 1985 to 1995, when he worked on “The Twilight Zone,” “Beauty and the Beast” and several shows in development. But he always remembered how he thought he had it made in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when he was a hot, young writer winning awards. Then his second novel, “The Armageddon Rag” sold extremely poorly, and suddenly, his literary career was over.

“You’ll be the cutting edge and suddenly you’ll be yesterday’s news,” he said.

– Patrick Kevin Day | @LATHeroComplex

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