Before George R.R. Martin was the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones, he was a young comic book reader. And, like many comic readers his age, he was a fan of the upstart Marvel universe of superhero comics.
A bit of trivia from Martin’s past is that the first writing he ever had published was a fan letter sent into Marvel Comics. The letter was a rave review of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #17, which was published in Fantastic Four #20.
As part of the History Channel’s Superheroes: Decoded two-night documentary on the history of superheroes, Martin read his letter out loud, with some annotations, including noting that he signed the letter with just one “R” as his middle initial. Lee even responded and thanked Martin for his kind words. The video can be seen above.
Martin wouldn’t stop there. As he mentions in the video, he would continue writing letters to his favorite comic book. He even wrote a second letter to the Fantastic Four, though this time it was actually to correct a continuity error he believed Lee and Kirby had made.
Martin also says that this letter and the response he got from Lee helped change his life. It goes to show what kind of an inspiration a creator can have on a fan.
Some may wonder how a superhero comic led to Martin writing one of the most popular fantasy stories of all time. Martin has also delved into superhero shared universes with the Wild Cards series. Martin serves as the editor for the Wild Cards books, which are primarily anthologies of superhero prose stories all set within a shared universe. The idea for the universe is that as small number of people were gifted with exception powers. Some became Aces, heroes, while others became Jokers, villains.
Wild Cards may even become the next big television hit for Martin. Wild Cards was optioned by Universal Cable Productions last year. UCP is the studio behind Mr. Robot, The Magicians, 12 Monkeys, Killjoys, and previously the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
“Universal Cable Productions (UCP) has acquired the rights to adapt our long-running Wild Cards series of anthologies and mosaic novels for television,” Martin wrote at the time. “Development will begin immediately on what we hope will be the first of several interlocking series.”
Superheroes Decoded airs Sunday, April 30 and Monday, May 1 on the History Channel.