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Friday, May 13, 2011

Doorways - George R.R. Martin

For those rabid fans of George R.R. Martin Doorways may be familiar.  It is in fact the same title he used in conjunction with a pilot he wrote for ABC in 1991.  It was a particularly eventful year for Martin.  Before writing Doorways, he began a short story about dire wolf puppies found in the summer snows.  This story became A Game of Thrones - the first book in the series of fantasy novels that made Martin the closest thing to a household name in fantasy since J.R.R. Tolkein.  However, before finishing A Game of Thrones, Martin had a series of Hollywood meetings to pitch a television series.

Doorways, was one of those pitches.  Although the pilot was picked up ABC, it never saw the light of day when ABC decided to launch Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman instead.  In 1995, speculation came from TV critics that Fox's Sliders was inspired by Doorways in which the main cast were fugitives fleeing through parallel worlds, while carrying a device that tells them where and when the next Doorway opens.  Sliders creator Tracy Torme denied the rumors.  Nevertheless, twenty years later, Martin along with artist Stefano Martino have collaborated to finally tell Martin's story.

The graphic novel includes four comics that were published late last year in the form of a mini-series by IDW Publishing.  IDW has become well known in specializing in licensed properties such as TransformersGI Joe, and Dr. Who.  Doorways begins when a strange woman named Cat finds herself in an emergency room undergoing evaluation by Dr. Thomas Mason.  When government officials turn up to arrest Cat, she escapes and takes a sympathetic Dr. Mason with her.  Little does the good doctor know, she's being chased by a host of nasty characters from her own alternate world.  And so with the help of what looks like a Nintendo Power Glove, Cat and Dr. Mason run for their lives to another world.

Cat in the 1991 pilot on ABC,
Like any comic book, art is imperative to conveying the author's intent.  Martino, who never saw the pilot for Doorways, has created a great style that is reminiscent to me of the early days of Image Comics.  It's entirely possible that the early Image books are nostalgic in mind, but Martino's work calls up Jim Lee's Wild C.A.T.S.  The writing is more believable than many comics out there, not surprisingly given Martin's chops.  It's a fun story, if not an incredible one, and certainly worth a read.

As a side note, I'm reminded of just how much intellectual property Martin has in his collection.  All the short stories, A Song of Fire and Ice, Wildcards, his horror novels, and his science fiction novels make for a tremendous catalog.  I am certain that with success of the HBO adaptation of Martin's only work of fantasy that there may be more adaptations on the horizon.  I suspect Doorways has come to the end of its creative line, but I am hopeful we'll continue to see more of Martin's storytelling throughout the various forms of media.

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