10 Comics to Fill the Game of Thrones-Shaped Void in Your Life

Comics Lists Game of Thrones
10 Comics to Fill the Game of Thrones-Shaped Void in Your Life

Whether you found last night’s Game of Thrones series finale to be a well-earned payoff to nearly a decade of dedicated viewing or you feel like your time was wasted harder than King’s Landing after a Drogon visit, any regular viewer of HBO’s A Song of Fire and Ice adaptation suddenly has a GoT-shaped void in their weekly media consumption. HBO is racing to fill it with upcoming spins on Watchmen and His Dark Materials, sure, but we have a different suggestion: why not pick up a comic book instead? The 10 comics below all share key themes or approaches with George R.R. Martin’s tale of Starks, Lannisters and Targaryens, and all of them are waiting for you right now at your local comic shop, book store or preferred digital retailer. Just promise us you won’t lay waste to entire cities if you don’t end up liking our suggestions.

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Simon Spurrier has an established track record with the strange and unusual, from The Spire to Cry Havoc to The Dreaming, the crown jewel of DC Comics’ Sandman Universe. In the pages of BOOM! Studios series Coda, Spurrier teams with Cannibal artist Matías Bergara for another strange adventure, this time a high-fantasy tale of the post-magic apocalypse—a glorious world of elves, bards and dragons laid to waste by a bizarre catastrophe. Spurrier and Bergara deliver a surreal mix of strange faces and places that blends the over-the-top fantasy aesthetics of Dungeons & Dragons with the ecological wastelands of Mad Max, complete with Spurrier’s unmistakable flair for clever dialogue and a surly hero whose intentions are often just as bad as his attitude. Bergara in particular does stunning color work; the world of Coda feels warm and vibrant and weirdly inviting despite the circumstances, and remains engaging even in its gruesome moments. If you liked GoT’s occasional overtures at dark humor, Coda may be the fantasy pick for you. C.K. Stewart & Steve Foxe

STL106249.jpegConan the Barbarian
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Mahmud Asrar & Gerardo Zaffino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian warrior has persisted far beyond most of his pulp peers, with a storied Marvel Comics run decades ago and a full 15 years of adventures at Dark Horse Comics, and now some of Marvel’s biggest creators are starting the saga all over again, just in time for aimless Game of Thrones fans to jump over. It’s impressive that Jason Aaron even has barbarian stories left to tell, after an era-defining run on Thor and an all-too-brief sojourn to The Goddamned, but Conan feels like Aaron unchained, lifted up by stellar work from regular artist Mahmud Asrar (one of the few interior artists who could stand up against the sheer awe of Esad Ribic’s painted covers) and guest artist Gerardo Zaffino. The core Conan title is a series of standalone outings linked by an evil plot and prophecy, and while it lacks the expansive cast of GoT, it has a similarly lived-in, brutal fantasy world, where danger and death lurk around every corner. Marvel also has Savage Sword of Conan and Age of Conan: Bêlit, Queen Of The Black Coast filling out shelves, if one taste isn’t enough for you.

Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Eric Zawadzki
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Eternal is a special book. Written by Beautiful Canvas co-creator Ryan K. Lindsay, drawn and lettered by The Dregs breakthrough artist Eric Zawadzki and colored by Rednecks colorist Dee Cunniffe, Eternal tells the story of an isolated band of shieldmaidens who refuse to cede their land to invading men, and of their leader who will stop at nothing to preserve her way of life—or avenge it. If you think you’ve read this Viking story before, you haven’t—or at least not executed on the level at which Zawadzki and crew operate. Eternal was publisher Black Mask Studios’ first entry into the original graphic novel format, with a page count that allows Lindsay, Zawadzki and Cunniffe to orchestrate a symphony of snowy violence and Viking vengeance that demands its oversized space on your shelf. If you’re looking for a done-in-one reading commitment, Eternal should be your first pick. And if you desperately need more Vikings after this, consider Vertigo’s much longer Northlanders.

FourEyesGoT.jpgFour Eyes
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Max Fiumara
Publisher: Image Comics
If you’re anything like I am, a huge portion of your commitment to Game of Thrones rested on seeing the dragons. Hell, maybe you even skipped the episode where that second dragon dies, and watched How to Train Your Dragon again, because you’re sensitive like that (or maybe I’m projecting). At any rate, Four Eyes doesn’t share much storytelling DNA with HBO’s GoT, but it does feature a compelling story of a destitute kid in Depression-era New York who falls into the high-risk, high-reward world of dragon-fighting, and ends up bonding with the titular beasty. Writer Joe Kelly knows how to balance spectacle with emotion, and artist Max Fiumara’s smoky environmental design and impressively rendered dragons will endear just about anyone to this fantasy-tinged alternate history.

STL113906.jpegHellboy & B.P.R.D.
Writers: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Others
Artists: Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Guy Davis, Others
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Face it: as strange as it may seem, there’s probably no better comic analogue to Game of Thrones than Mike Mignola and co.’s decades-long Hellboy saga. Mignola, along with contributors like John Arcudi, Duncan Fegredo, Laurence Campbell, Guy Davis and many more, handcrafted a world where Lovecraftian cosmic terror intermingles with Universal Monsters-style nostalgic horror, where Arthurian legends interact with Russian folklore—and where regular folks are caught in the middle. Even the protagonists who don’t quite qualify as “regular,” be they were-leopard, pyrokinetic or an heir to Hell, still stand out within the long history of comics as some of the most fully rendered characters ever put to page. The movies may dilute the comic’s key themes, but Hellboy and sister series B.P.R.D. boil down to ideas about royal destinies and the unwinnable hell of war, both intrinsic parts of GoT. And with an expansive cast, devastating and often surprisingly swift deaths, unflinching carnage, ominous prophecies and even a protagonist who returned from the dead, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are the perfect comic commitment for fans looking for the same scope offered by GoT (plus Hellboy pulls it off better, let’s be honest).

unnamed16.jpgThe Hero
Writer/Artist: David Rubín
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Like Berserk, a fellow Dark Horse publication and one often compared to Game of Thrones, The Hero features extremely explicit gore and sexual violence that may not be appropriate for many readers. That disclaimer aside, The Hero’s two-volume, anachronistic retelling of the Heracles myth is absolutely stunning reading, repositioning the familiar figure of myth as a proto-Kirby superhero whose life is repeatedly defined by trial, loss and bloody combat in a way that should ring true to GoT fans. Cartoonist David Rubín’s exaggerated, thick-inked work will feel familiar to fans of Paul Pope and Rafael Grandpa, and can now be found regularly on series like Ether and Rumble, if The Hero gives you an itch that must be scratched.

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Publisher: Image Comics
For whatever reason, there is a notion that straight-up fantasy doesn’t work in comics, yet Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda continue to provide one of the most authentic high-fantasy experiences around, full of fictional races, thrilling pirate battles, ornate designs, royal intrigue and everything else we’ve come to expect from sword-and-sorcery epics. Liu’s interest in difficult intersections of autonomy, love, lust and revenge has helped Monstress earn accolades even outside of the comics sphere—peep that Hugo Award. That’s not to downplay Takeda’s contribution; without her stained-glass digital painting, Monstress simply wouldn’t be Monstress, one of the most reliable genre offerings on stands today. If your attraction to Game of Thrones hinges on its fantasy roots and its difficult subject matter, Monstress is your best bet.

STK638915.jpegMouse Guard
Writer/Artist: David Petersen
Publisher: Archaia/ BOOM! Studios
While Game of Thrones and A Song of Fire and Ice aren’t always typical fantasy tales, creator George R.R. Martin has always been upfront about his love and respect for the genre’s foundations. Mouse Guard—aside from featuring anthropomorphic rodents in all the main roles—is a much more traditional fantasy saga, with furry little warriors fighting the good fight in a medieval mouse world. Cartoonist David Petersen has an intricately detailed style that brings every hair on every animal, every blade of grass in the forest, every wave in the river to life, which helps to balance the intimate, individual struggles of his cast with the large-scale, life-or-death scenarios the titular Mouse Guard often find themselves in. If you were drawn to GoT for the political intrigue and whisper wars as much as the bloody sword fights, Mouse Guard should serve you well.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Saga stands right at the intersection of sci-fi and fantasy in much the same way that Star Wars does, unabashedly mashing its futuristic technology with epochs-old mysticism without ever overshadowing the wild cast of characters that make up the heart of this long-running fan favorite. Well, the characters who are left, anyway. Throughout the last year, over 50 issues into the series, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples killed off more main characters than their readership could process—and then declared a one-year hiatus. Sounds like something straight out of George R.R. Martin’s wildest dreams, no? The most recent arc of Saga should come with a discount coupon for a therapy dog visit, just to lessen the blow. A body count alone doesn’t justify Saga’s grand reputation, though; what does is Vaughan and Staples’ ability to shockingly upend the story in ways that never feel cheap or exploitative. Like a rollercoaster ride in the dark, Saga’s next twist is never, ever predictable. And with plenty of issues already banked and the series on hiatus for at least a year, now’s the perfect time for curious GoT viewers to jump in the deep end on another story that’ll trample their hearts in the best way possible.

SevenEternityCover.jpgSeven to Eternity
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Jerome Opeña
Publisher: Image Comics
The world of Zhal operates wholly by magic—much like the current U.S. administration, science has no place here—but GoT viewers shouldn’t expect simple dragons and necromancy. Stoic protagonist Adam Osidis teaches his daughter to hunt with telepathically controlled eel-arrows and uses bullets imbued with the spirits of his ancestors. A squadron of resistance fighters travel via the teleportation portal embedded in a truck-sized sentient lizard’s mouth. The terrifying Mud King’s chief enforcer summons clay snake/hound hybrids using flutes extracted from his chest. Writer Rick Remender and artist Jerome Opeña are working in the fantasy genre, yes, but all bets are off when it comes to their madcap imagination, and Seven to Eternity is all the better for it. Like GoT, this Image Comics yarn revolves around the weight of legacy and the (often literal) sins of our fathers. And while the Night King may not have lived up to his buildup, the Mud King—also known the God of Whispers—certainly does, even when the plot subverts the expected heroic quest against evil. If you’re looking for a fantasy saga that strays far from the beaten path, Seven to Eternity is all but required reading.

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