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George R.R. Martin would write Doctor Strange (with a catch)

George R.R. Martin, author of the bestselling fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire, is a Marvel fan from way back, with a letter in 1964’s Avengers #12 counted among his earliest published writing (he was a New Jersey teen at the time). So it probably should come as little surprise that, in theory at least, he wouldn’t mind taking a crack at writing Doctor Strange, whom he says “was always one of my favorites.”

A comic with “From the Creator of Game of Thrones” slapped across the cover would seem like a license for Marvel to print money. However, before Martin would even consider tackling the Master of the Mystic Arts, he would require an unlikely guarantee from the publisher.

“Before I would ever do that, I would have to have my lawyers to meet with Marvel’s lawyers and work out an absolutely iron-clad contract that would say whatever I did in the story would continue to be canon forever, and would never be retconned, rebooted or reimagined out of the universe when some later writer decided to mess around with it,” Martin tells MTV Geek in an interview recorded at Worldcon. “Because I hate that, I hate — I’ve always hated reboots and retcons and the fact that a writer comes in and undoes what a previous writer did and, y’know, brings dead characters back to life, kills new characters that weren’t intended to die. That’s the one thing I don’t like about comics. That drives me crazy.”

Given Martin’s penchant for killing beloved characters by the score, and the endless nature of superhero serials, it’s likely the “no retcon” stipulation might give Marvel pause. But let’s pretend an agreement could be reached; what would George R.R. Martin’s Doctor Strange be like?

“I’d separate him more, I wouldn’t drag in the rest of the Marvel Universe or make him part of a team,” the author says. “He doesn’t really fit any of that stuff. He’s a guy who hardly even should be known to the other heroes, living on the edge of the Marvel Universe, protecting the world and our dimension and plane from dangers and forces out there that the other characters, like Spider-Man and the Avengers, don’t even dream exists, y’know. He’s our wall against Cthulhu, the Great Old Ones and, y’know, the Dread Dormammu and stuff like that. That was when Doctor Strange was at his best, when Lee and Ditko were doing him in just that manner.”

Watch the full MTV Geek clip below, along with the Comic Book Resources interview conducted with Martin at last year’s Comic-Con International.

(via ComicBookMovie)

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22 Comments

Martin could have the best idea in the world and it could sell a million copies (it wouldn’t) and it’d still be a bad long term move for them to allow what he’s saying.

Who care about the no retcon clause? Do it, Marvel. A GRRM Marvel comic is a license to print money. And more than that, Marvel has been considering a Dr. Strange movie – a GRRM Doctor Strange comic before that would mean much, much greater returns for the eventual movie.

That retcon clause could be easily avoidable if you make it as a Marvel Knights book which usually is a lightly in-continuity (Battlin’ Jack Murdock) or just not recognized as being one (Spider-Man: Reign). It could also be a MAX book as well. There is nothing that says it needs to be in regular Marvel Universe.

Could that iron-clad contract include something along the lines of Mr. Martin producing his material in a timely fashion in response to his “don’t touch my untouchable writing?” Then maybe there will be something.

Well, that’ll never happen in a million years.

Michael P nailed it. Even if a GRRM-written Marvel comic would basically be a license to print money, Marvel would never agree to hamstrung to one story forever. Certainly not without so much editorial oversight/second guessing that I imagine the task of writing it would be unbearable.

Who needs Martin writing a comic so that we can wait ages in between issues? We already have Mark Millar for that.

A more appropriate headling would be “George R.R. Martin Will Never Write Dr. Strange”. Shakespeare could come back from the dead, collaborate on a X-Men comic with Joss Whedon and a re-animated Jack Kirby, and Marvel wouldn’t give them that guarantee.

give him his own universe, or a movie if he wants his continuity not to be messed with (it doesn’t necessarily have to be cannon). although, I largely agee with his assessment of reboots and retcons, people can innocently make an ovesight or be ignorant of some more obscure aspects of a character’s history and unwittingly retcon something. just do what I do, ignore the stuff you don’t like and hope that somebody comes by later to fix it (e.g.: Daredevil had to endure Shadowland before Mark Waid came along and fixed him)

It’s unworkable, for several reasons. Biggest problem is you’d have to define “retcon” and “reboot” to a very precise degree … and doing so would probably hamstring later writers to the point that no one else would ever want to write the character again.

On the other hand, Nolan’s Batman movies have given me a very different way of looking at things like this. Nolan’s version of the mythos is full of ideas I’d have never done and would never do it I was given Batman to work with — even though I love Nolan’s Batman. Nolan’s Batman is just that — NOLAN’S Batman, and it’s great but I know it isn’t mine. Thinking about that has also made me realize that despite DC’s claim to the contrary, Englehart’s Batman was never Moench’s Batman and neither were ever Morrison’s Batman.

If Martin changed his catch to “I want to do Martin’s Dr. Strange” that was separate from what has come before and after, and is officially recognized as such, I’d be on that in a heartbeat.

That’s… yeah. Wow. Since no one EVER at Marvel or DC has anything like that, not the creators of the characters either, he’s asking for something untenable and, frankly, I think ridiculous and… yeah, I’ll say it, arrogant.

I also want to beat my head against the wall to read “I’ve always hated reboots and retcons and the fact that a writer comes in and undoes what a previous writer did” followed immediately by “I’d separate him more, I wouldn’t drag in the rest of the Marvel Universe or make him part of a team. … He doesn’t really fit any of that stuff. He’s a guy who hardly even should be known to the other heroes.” Which would, you know, involve undoing what other writers have done for literally decades.

This is why he writes novels and not comics.

Knut Robert Knutsen

September 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

Isn’t that really what he’s saying? “I’d love to do Dr. Strange, but the way I feel about the stuff I write is at odds with how continuity is handled by Marvel, so basically there’s no way that Marvel can make that a workable situations for me.”

I don’t think he expects that Marvel would entertain the idea of giving him those assurances, he’s just putting it in there to explain why it’s never going to happen. He’s succesful enough and has enough on his plate finishing the Game of Thrones books that there’s no reason he’ll do Dr Strange if it ends up being something that gets on his nerves. So he explains what Marvel has to do to make it a workable situation for him and it’s a set of demands that won’t be met.

End of story.

And basically what he’s proposing is to strip away later retcons and bring Dr Strange back to the original Ditko version. Which is perfectly consistent with his stated disdain for retcons, reboots and characters and storylines being undone. He’s not saying that Dr Strange should wear a neon-green jumpsuit and have a hilariously campy gay identical twin (gratuitous “Zorro: The gay blade” reference) who fills in for him occasionally and stay that way forever.

Yes, his demands are dealbreakers, but they’re supposed to be.

“Because I hate that, I hate — I’ve always hated reboots and retcons and the fact that a writer comes in and undoes what a previous writer did and, y’know, brings dead characters back to life, kills new characters that weren’t intended to die. That’s the one thing I don’t like about comics. That drives me crazy.”

Hello New 52, hello Geoff Johns. ;)

“Because I hate that, I hate — I’ve always hated reboots and retcons and the fact that a writer comes in and undoes what a previous writer did and, y’know, brings dead characters back to life, kills new characters that weren’t intended to die. That’s the one thing I don’t like about comics. That drives me crazy.”

Say it again! Gotta love George R.R. Martin! What an awesome talent! A man with brains and heart!

Don’t you know he would write ONE HELLUVA DR. STRANGE!!!

Strange is a core character in the magic corner of the MU. Unless he presents his story to Marvel and lets them decide based on that before signing anything, it would be freaking stupid of them to agree. I love Martin’s books but he’s human and he makes mistakes like everyone else. How many times has a fan-favorite writer made bad decisions later writers had to correct? More than I can count. Fictional universes and their characters change and evolve all the time. They have to because we the readers change and and evolve with our society. So even if something he writes today is great and everyone agrees it’s great, the character isn’t alone in an ever-changing universe. Those No-Change-Whatsoever-In-The-Future rules would probably end up affecting other characters. All for some short-term sales that will probably be pretty good for Strange in particular but won’t be all that extraordinary in general. If he truly wants do a kickass story where he can pull out all the stops and be sure no one will ever mess with it, he can do an alternate reality story. Or he can create an analog for DC or Image or someone else. And he will be forever remembered in the comic book industry as the guy who did that awesome Doctor Strange story. :p

I’m with Patrick. Give GRRM a MAX book and turn him loose on Dr. Strange. That would be AWESOME! And it could inspire enough interest in Dr. Strange, that Marvel would FINALLY give him another chance at an ongoing. SIXTEEN years is waaaay too long to leave the Master of Mysticism without a book.

Because his writing is so brilliant that no one else can improve upon it? Yeah. Bite me.

I’m with Dave on this one.

Who the hell does this guy think he is saying that any one of his ideas should be immutable? Even Ditko’s classic work on Dr Strange has been open to interpretation and re-evaluation. GRRM is essentially saying that his idea should exist forever in a vacuum, unsullied by the great talents that could possibly come after him.

I wonder what GRRM thinks about the fact that he himself is reinterpreting standard tropes and cliches of the fantasy genre into a whole new different work?

Who does he think he is . Perhaps he thinks he siis a writer that is unbelivebly succesfful and has written multiple best sellers.who who is more well know than any Marvel writer with the possible exception of Wedon?

A guy who sells has something like twenty boos stiull on Amazons best sellar list and As spent a long time on the NYT best seller list has the right to set conditions if he chooses to. Not having his work trashed by hacks is his one condition

its not arrogance, its taste. he read marvel comics back when everything mattered and stayed canon, so that’s what he likes. were used to post crisis Canon bullshit he isn’t. its not like Martin has a problem with stuff like the phoenix coming back. Martin brings people back and does fake out deaths all the time

This guy respects the material more than Marvel does. Of course he’ll never get the job.

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