It kind of figures that Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin would be a fan of Marvel Comics’ The Fantastic Four, with its strong main characters, who may often bicker and argue with each other, but always unite to fight various dastardly enemies. The other Marvel characters—with a few exceptions (mainly team-ups like The Avengers, and Thor)—tend to be geeky loners, who have difficulties fitting into society. The Fantastic Four are their own little society, just like all those families in Martin’s Game of Thrones.
In 1961, a 12-year-old George wrote a gushing letter of praise to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for their #17 August issue of The Fantastic Four, which was published in the #20’s letter page:
Dear Stan and Jack,
F.F. #17 was greater than great. Even now I sit in awe of it, trying to do the impossible—that is, describe it. It was absolutely stupendous, the ultimate, utmost! I cannot fathom how you could fit so much action into so few pages. It will live forever as one of the greatest F.F. comics ever printed, ergo, as one of ALL comics. In what other comic mag could you see things like a hero falling down a manhole, a heroine mistaking a toy inventor for a criminal, and the President of the U.S.A. leaving a conference that may determine the fate of the world to put his daughter to bed. The epic story, spectacular and exciting as it is, is not all that made this mag so great. The letter column was top-notch, too. I nearly died when I saw Paul Gambaccini’s letter. You’ve really made him change his tune; that letter was a far cry from the one printed in F.F. #9. Then there’s your cover boast—THE WORLD’S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE! Brilliant! You were just about the World’s worst mag when you started, but you set yourself an ideal, and, by gumbo, you achieved it! More than achieved it, in fact—why, if you were only half as good as you are now, you’d still be the world’s best mag!!!
George R. Martin
35 East First st.
The Bullpen replied:
We might as well quit while we’re ahead. Thanks for your kind words, George, and now—it’s time for our favorite department—where we talk to you straight from the shoulder———
I wonder if the Paul Gambaccini mentioned in George’s letter is the BBC radio presenter?