George R.R. Martin loves Marvel because they'll kill heroes

Looking back on his days as a young comics fan—who routinely wrote letters that appeared in the backs of various books—the Game of Thrones creator recalls the issue that made him a Marvel-head for life.

In a recent episode of public radio's The Sound of Young America, host John Hodgman—longtime Daily Show correspondent and fellow geek—reminded Martin of a letter he wrote back in 1964 regarding Avengers #9. And in so doing, Hodgman triggered an outpouring of affection for the risks that Stan Lee's Marvel was willing to take back then:

"Wonder Man dies in that story. He's a brand-new character, he's introduced, and he dies. It was very heart-wrenching. I liked the character—it was a tragic, doomed character. I guess I've responded to tragic, doomed characters ever since I was a high-school kid. ...

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"Of course, being comic books, Wonder Man didn't stay dead for long. He came back a year or two later and had a long run for many, many decades. But the fact that he was introduced and joined the Avengers and died all in that one issue had a great impact on me when I was a high-school kid. ...

"It's hard to understand, I think, from the vantage point of 2011 exactly what was going on in comics back in the early '60s. The Marvel comics that I was writing letters to were really revolutionary for the time. Stan Lee was doing some amazing work. Up until then, the dominant comic book had been the DC comics, which at that time were always very circular: Superman or Batman would have an adventure, and at the end of the adventure they would wind up exactly where they were, and then the next issue would follow the same pattern. Nothing ever changed for the DC characters."

Anyone who's even a casual fan of Game of Thrones knows that Martin took the Wonder Man lesson to heart. For the rest of the interview, head over here.

(Via Robot 6)

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