by Donato

Next week will be the official release of the 2015 Calendar of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire at the San Diego Comic-Con and nationwide.  It is a pleasure to be in the company of such talented artists as Gary Gianni, John Picacio, Marc Simonetti, Ted Nasmith and Michael Komark who have illuminated the life and times of the Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens.

The one key difference between the release of the calendar at the Comic-Con and nationwide is that those attending the convention will have the chance to have George and myself sign your copy of the calendar!  100 lucky fans will receive a ticket for the signing Thursday afternoon after stopping by my booth, #4503, or braving the hordes at the Comic-Con tickets handouts – pick your evil.

If you do happen to stop by the booth, you will get quite an eyeful of the art created for the calendar.  I will have the cover oil painting, Mother of Dragons, on display as well as Forging the Iron Throne and The Cinnamon Wind.  In addition the rough and highly detailed preliminary drawings will also be there in abundance, not only for viewing, but to the few who wish to purchase a piece of this historical calendar.  With close to 12 months of my time vested in this project, these paintings are some of my best professional work.  You don’t need my word for it as George R.R. Martin and his wife Parris, being huge art collectors, have purchased six of the available oil paintings.  And another piece, that of Stannis Baratheon, has been picked up by other collectors, all before the calendar hits the stands.

As I have mentioned before, I am grateful to David Stevenson, Anne Groell and George R.R. Martin for the chance to create such challenging content for this calendar.  Stripped of the need to produce cover impact illustrations, I was free to explore social and moral themes illuminated so wonderfully through the narratives George supplied.  Thus while I sought to capture highly specific moments from the novels, I also felt it my duty as an artist to convey these greater, ambiguous themes which has us emtional tied to these stories year after year.

Below is a peek of the art to appear next week, Aeron Greyjoy (Damphair) and the drowned men on the beach.  This is not just an image from the fourth novel, but also recalls issues of forced conscription, torment, subservience, worship and hope.  So often in my career as a book cover illustrator I had been called upon to create an image depicting the protagonist of the novel.  Nearly all of these early images had me placing the figure in a positive light and within a narrative which made them seem empowered, confident, and in control – all qualities I thought I wanted in my heroes.
But over the years, my concept of hero has changed, questioning my own beliefs in what a good hero should represent and the qualities that make them someone I wish to role model. 

With this calendar, I felt the chance to break from my typical approach in creating art which needed to ‘sell’.  I was free to explore art which could focus upon a different dominate theme, one which would allow greater exploration with the characters and complex narratives George was writing in his novels.  The idea of torment, both physically and emotionally was one I could see exhibited within many of his characters, from Arya witnessing her fathers’ execution to the despair Jamie felt after loosing his hand.  There were so many possibilities to approach this subject, yet as an artist, I had only one image to create! 

I wish there were 36 months to the calendar so I would have the chance to fully develop and explore all of these issues perceived within the novels, but alas I needed to settle on those which spoke to me the greatest AND at the same time provided equal weighted content to the diverse cultures and families showcased within the books.  A true illustrative challenge. 

I’ll leave the explanations there and let you come to your own conclusions on why I created this painting and the twelve others I so chose.

More to share after the Comic-Con when the green light is given on the rest of the art from the calendar!

Damphair – What is Dead May Never Die   30″ x 30″    Oil on panel   Donato Giancola