One of the best things about Game of Thrones is its sheer complexity. I guess you could say that’s one of the worst things about it, too, but I think you have to appreciate a show that respects its audience enough to let dozens of characters wander through nearly as many plot lines without constantly going back to remind us who’s who. Personally, I don’t know Harrenhal from the Hound, but I’m fine just letting the spectacle wash over me every Sunday. If you do yearn for a better grasp on the parties scheming for the Iron Throne, these graphics will help. Maybe.
They come from Where Have All The Wildings Gone, a visual tribute to the Game of Thrones universe created by freelance designer Nigel Evan Dennis. The bulk of the content is an illustrated roster of the show’s diverse cast of characters, each accompanied by a colored badge showing their allegiance. A gray circle represents House Stark; a red and yellow one marks members of House Lannister, and so on.
Those badges are also used in a pair of infographics, one of which outlines the convoluted alliances of the Seven Kingdoms, the other a timeline of its recent history. Pop-up text labels helpfully remind you who you’re looking at, but it takes some concentration to really follow along. The biggest takeaway from the graphics? You’re not just being a lazy viewer. This stuff really is complicated.
For Dennis, the project was a way to hone his illustration skills, sure--but also a tribute to a beloved show. He’s usually not a fan of fantasy, he explains, but something about the show resonated with him. "It feels real and it feels honest," he says. "It feels dense and vast."
Dennis still hasn’t picked up George R. R. Martin’s books, but the show alone has given him plenty to sort through. "The complexity is in everything," he says. "The people. The alliances. The enemies. The terrain. The politics. Everything. So displaying that complexity visually is a blast because it is a constantly changing data source."
Even with these visual aids, I’m still pretty lost. But I’ll keep watching. At some point soon here, those dragons have to start lighting shit on fire.