Russian fan site 7Kingdoms.ru has posted an interview with popular ASOIAF artist Roman Papsuyev (aka Amok) centered around his thoughts on Game of Thrones. The interview is in Russian so here is a link to the page as translated by Google. Not the best, but you get the idea.
Also of note, Amok is planning to create some artwork in commemoration of HBO picking up Thrones. It has been awhile since he has done ASOIAF art, so he asks the fans for ideas on what he should draw. Hit up the link to post your suggestions.
UPDATE: Mark Berelekhis, a fan and a professional translator, was kind enough to translate the interview for us. Read it after the jump.
Roman Papsuev, aka Amok, has gained renown among many of you as an illustrator for Nick Perumov, Vera Kamsha, Dmitry Kazakov, Leonid Alehin, in addition to his own novels. He was dubbed best artist of 2004 by Mir Fantastiki (The World of Science Fiction and Fantasy – http://www.mirf.ru/), and has also taken home the Best Artist award at Eurocon 2008. But for the Russian readers of A Song of Ice and Fire he is also known as one of the founders of The Iron Throne — the first Russian ASOIAF fan site on the web, and perhaps above all else for creating a portrait gallery for the characters of the saga. The images presented by Amok have become regarded as canons, but now that HBO has greenlit the first season of Game of Thrones, soon we will be witnessing their own take on these characters. For this reason we have asked Amok to comment on several developments with respect to the series …
7kingdoms.ru: Once the castings were concluded, the most heated quarrels were over Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. And your portraits were often used to support the argument that the actors were miscast. These are key characters in the world of Westeros, and the actors cast to play these roles differ considerably from your illustrations. What do you think is the reason for the actors’ lukewarm reception by the fans? If the majority pictured Jon and Dany the way you did, don’t you think the series creators are purposefully trying to take the story in a different direction from what the fans expect?
AMOK: Let’s start with an official disclaimer — I believe that the series cast is spectacular. Including Jon and Dany. Sure, they look pretty different from my portraits — so what? First of all, those portraits were never official (save for the portraits of the Targaryens, which were included in The Art of A Song of Ice and Fire. And even though GRRM himself has endorsed them after checking them for compliance, they cannot be considered canons. Second of all, we have to approach the situation rationally, in that it is not up to us to decide who to cast for those roles. We need only to enjoy (or not) the end result. I hope that we will enjoy the hell out of the series, and I truly believe that we will. HBO is an amazing network, and they always hire bona fide dramatic actors. This gives me confidence that every actor/actress will give the role exactly what the creators want. Also, we shouldn’t forget that literature and cinematography are two different arts. What is allowed in one may be a crime in the other. So, even if the series creators deviate from the books a bit, that’s not necessarily terrible, because the end result may still be superb. The important thing is to convey the essence of the books, their spirit, banal as it may sound. Then everything will be wonderful.
And why would the fans reject the actors anyway? I can’t think of a single reason. The actors are terrific, what could anyone possibly dislike about them? My portraits are merely my vision of the characters (of course, they were founded on the author’s own view of them), but don’t forget that even GRRM himself isn’t too involved in the production. To sum up, I feel that fans need to trust HBO more. I doubt that they will feed us heresy, that’s not their MO J
7kingdoms.ru: What is your general impression of the cast [список – link to a Russian article on the series cast]?
AMOK: One word — magnificent.
7kingdoms.ru: Your portraits are seldom considered unfitting for the books. Why do you think the fans are so united in this notion?
AMOK: Because they were approved by GRRM and some of the most devoted fans of the saga, who have helped me to look for character descriptions and pointed out my mistakes. Otherwise it is nothing more than typical fan art.
7kingdoms.ru: In one interview to Mir Fantastiki (The World of Science Fiction and Fantasy) you said that you felt closest in spirit to Ned. How do you like Sean Bean in that role?
AMOK: When I found out that Ned would be played by Sean Bean, I was beside myself with delight. First of all I am a huge fan of the actor, and second, I feel that he will be able to portray the tragedy of Ned’s character like no one else.
7kingdoms.ru: Do you think people’s perception of the world GRRM has created will change significantly when the first season airs in spring 2011?
AMOK: You might as well ask me to read your palm. But yes, of course people’s perception will change. Because before there was only art, fan art, and the readers’ own imagination. But now we’ll have a canon, an official series based on the books. Naturally it will differ from what some people expect. Everybody’s imagination is different, obviously you can’t make everybody happy. Personally, all I want from the series is to convey the spirit of the saga. And I recommend to all the fans to expect the same, and not more.
7kingdoms.ru: The Internet is full of unrelenting rumors that ACT Publishing will publish a new edition of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, for which they will need new art, as it was with the books of Neil Gaiman. If you were offered the job, provided you had the time, what would you put on the cover? What style would you use?
AMOK: Unfortunately, I no longer do cover art, and I probably wouldn’t be able to design the series even if they asked me. But if I were trusted to design the books for this series, I would probably pick a collage system, which I’ve used successfully over practically my entire career as a designer. Such a system includes several large portraits of the protagonists, plus one or two action illustrations that depict key episodes from the book. The end product would look similar to a movie poster. I have examples of such posters on my site — http://amokanet.ru/gallery/posters/.
We thank Amok for his input! We wish him success in his creative endeavors, and wish all of us (the fans) to enjoy the hell out of the series when it airs next year.
Roman’s work can be seen at his official site: www.amokanet.ru.