Comic-Con: Bringing George R.R. Martin's ‘A Song of Ice and Fire' to life in a wall calendar

‘Game of Thrones’ might be the hottest property right now in Hollywood. The HBO television series is based on George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books.

A new fantasy art calendar based on the book series is debuting in stores for the first time this year.

The man who painted all twelve pictures that appear in the calendar is Donato Giancola, a well-known Brooklyn-based artist. This week he is appearing at Comic-Con International in San Diego for his fifteenth consecutive year.

Over two decades ago Ginacola was just a college student at Syracuse University. As he learned his craft, he took time to enjoy comic books as part ComixPlus, a student-run group.

The members published two self-created comic books a year. Donato believes writing and illustrating for those books helped lay the foundation for his current artwork.

“I point towards our experience in ComixPlus as so instrumental in helping to form my own professional identity as an artist,” says Giancola. “Just thinking of a dynamic camera angle, being aware of narrative, the idea of action before and after and then selecting that moment that can best communicate and clarify your intent, that’s very much coming up out of comics.”

Despite working as a professional artist for more than two decades, Donato admits his work continues to be refined.

“I’ve learned that I know less. The more I paint the more I’m cutting away extraneous information.”

He says focusing on the subject and how they got to be in a particular position is becoming more important for him.

“There’s a lot of story in my pictures and that’s what I’m chasing after.”

He believes you can see that in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ calendar.

“The George R.R. Martin calendar is definitely more heavily loaded on the character, not so much portraits of characters, but narratives of character getting back to that comic book thing … the story behind it.”

Donato says some fans of the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series could be disappointed with the calendar because his paintings are not based on the show.

He says he had just started watching the HBO series when Random House called about working on the calendar.

“That was actually before I read any of the books,” admits Giancola.

So he stopped watching the show and instead he began immersing himself into the novels. Donato says he did that on purpose so he could understand and convey Martin’s first-hand impressions of the characters rather than what the team of artists help portray on television.

He says Martin did not give him a lot of input for the calendar, but believes the busy novelist is happy the end product.

“I assume he is, because he’s purchased six of the paintings,” says Giancola. “I am really happy because I put a tremendous amount of effort into these paintings.”

You can view more of Donato Giancola’s work on his website: www.donatoart.com .

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