The First Law Graphic Novel

Posted on April 10th, 2013 in announcements, artwork, Graphic Novel, news

It is with the greatest pleasure of which my withered prune of a heart is capable that I announce the release of a project that has been a long time in the pipeline, which is, as many of you may already have guessed, a full colour, comprehensive Graphic Novel adaptation of that pillar of 21st century fantasy fiction: The First Law Trilogy.

Blind Ferret First Law Blade Itself 1 front cover

It’s been put together by Rich Young of Blind Ferret, adapted by Chuck Dixon, with art by Andie Tong, colours by Pete Pantazis, lettering and design from Bill Tortolini, all done under the horrifying gaze of my single flaming unblinking eye.  I am hugely pleased with the results, which, no lie, have exceeded every expectation.

But the thing that’s of particular interest to me about this project, and probably will be of some interest to you as well, is the method of distribution. Mainly – that we’re giving it away to anyone with an internet connection.

Yes, you heard me right.  We’re serialising it, free, at

The first twelve pages are up there now.  You can go look at them.  For nothing.  And there’ll be new pages added every monday, wednesday, and friday, if things go according to plan, for years to come.  And you’ll be able to look at those too.  For nothing.  The hope is, that when we’ve finally completed this project, there’ll be well over a thousand pages of high quality First Law graphic novel up online.  For nothing.

But, eager to give the hungry public as many bites of the cherry as they can stomach, and aware that some might not be satisfied by a page here and a page there, you can also get hold of it in advance, issue by issue, via the world’s biggest digital comic distributor, Comixology.  The entire 24 page first issue is available there now, for 99 cents.  Further issues will be available there for $2.99 when we start to serialise them for free at  So the day the first page of an issue comes out for nothing, you can pay for all 22 pages, and enjoy the envy of your friends, acquaintances and colleagues for seven weeks.  What could be sweeter?  Plus via Comixology you get, as a bonus, guided view (which, for those unfamiliar, takes you through panel by panel in a cinematic styley), and a package of pencils, inks, and character designs with every issue.

Finally, for those who want something to grace their coffee table, we’ll be collecting every four issues into a hardcopy collection, with further bonus material.  Availability and price of that to be confirmed.


When you work with an artist, my feeling is you’ve got to give them the leeway to draw it as they see it.  I’ve had an awful lot of input at every stage.  Full editorial control, indeed, though I’ve generally gone for a fearsomely firm yet lovingly gentle touch.  But, in a sense, this is Andie Tong’s vision of the material, given extra verve and variety by Pete’s colours.  It’s one possible interpretation.  One that’s evolved as we’ve worked on it, and no doubt will continue to evolve.  But it’s one that I fully endorse, and am very proud of.  So some of you might not like everything about it.  One option would be for you to close your eyes really tight and stick your fingers in your ears and shout, ‘blah lee lah lee lah, I’m not listening, I’m not listening!’ whenever I talk about it.  That, believe me, will be no skin off my sizeable nose at all.  I suspect, though, if you give it a chance, most will find a great deal to like.  Not least among those things?  It won’t cost you a dime.

You can see the first few pages right now.  Tell me what you think.  Moan about how this or that doesn’t look the way it did inside your head.  Maybe even enjoy it.

Go on.  I dare you.

For Nothing.

121 Comments So Far... (join in)

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  1. Obviously this is a way of expanding the reader base. I think it will work well, as i am a reader already i get to gawp at the pretty pictures.
    Skimming though the other comments I’ve seen that all the sensible points about it have been made. My only concern is that being as short as it is (compared to the books), character interactions and relations will not be as deep.
    As an example, the missing lines about severard’s wife (and the following few lines) tells you volumes about the relationship, the people and the world.

    As a worthless sidenote I’m mildly worried that this is the first step toward getting a TV series like Game of thrones that differs from the books wildly. I’d still watch it though.

  2. It would be difficult to get the internal monologues of all the major characters across in a TV series, IMO.
    And those monologues are the most important contributing factor of the characterization of Joe’s books.

  3. From Frank:

    >> I find it strange how people are telling you how your characters look.<<

    I think there are a few things at work here.

    Firstly, it wouldn't surprise me if Logen was the favourite character of most of Joe's readers, so there will be some emotional investment there, and people will want it to look "right" (for their personal definition of "right"..) to do it justice.

    Secondly, while the author of course knows his characters better than anyone, the reader has no access to the author's internal representation of their appearance, they only have the words on the page. And it is a fact that the books have been pretty darn explicit in their description of the character's appearance, so one can hardly blame the readers for taking that to heart and expecting any visualisation to match that.

    I think that initial character sketch probably engendered the most negative reaction, and that coloured people's response to the subsequent teaser images. I know it did mine. Which is unfortunate, becase the real pages are a huge improvement, and obviously benefited from Joe and Andie's "tinkering".

    Anyway, it is all moot now. It looks as if it is shaping up nicely, really looking forward to the rest of it. :o)

  4. Bobbby
    That’s what worries me.

    I think you mean Glockta.On your second point, my knee jerk reaction was close to what you said, but this is a leap from book to graphic novel. Things need to change because of the format.
    I thought Glockta was too “pretty” but after reading Abercrombie’s comment about “needing to see what he used to be” I agree that the format needed that interpretation.

    I think what we need to remember is that this isn’t a copy/paste with pictures. Its a new way of looking at the series.

  5. I think it was a very intelligent decision from the get-go to have Glockta as a young(ish) guy. It’s exactly because he used be upright and dashing and strong and one of the best swordsmen in the realm, that he’s now so bitter and twisted. His body and spirit being broken in torture, he questions ‘why’ – for what purpose was that exemplary service? It’s exactly the loss of his looks and his vitality that has made him into this twisetd shell. It would have been too easy to have made him an old, grizzled sith-lord type.

  6. JOE!!!!!!!!!

    I love it! And I’m glad I pictured the ages right. I got into a heated debate with my friend on how old Logen was in the first law trilogy. I’m telling him, READ THE CONTEXT FRIGGIN CLUES!

    So his Dad sent him away when he was 15, then he makes a name for himself that takes years in the making. So I find the exact paragraph where Dogman’s saying “Was that really necessary?” (after he asks Black Dow if he needs another lesson <– a part that always makes me smile) and Logen's reply is something (I'm obviously paraphrasing) to the extent of: "Guess you got the knack to where folks like you. I reckon I missed my chance about 15 years ago." Which puts him (in my mind) at the beginning of his journey to the become the Bloody Nine.. i.e. the time when his Dad sent him away.

    And HOW can Glokta possibly be FAT when he was the best fencer of his time, tortured for 2 years, and all he eats is SOUP?? He can barely get that down half the time. My mind was blown when reading over that comment (no offense intended.. but damn, that's a hard thing to overlook).

    Gah so glad you clarified. Now I can rub it in his face for the rest of my life … because I'm a scorpio and that's what we do. 😉

    Anyway, congrats on the graphic novel. Pretty much anything you put out is gold in my mind. Keep up the awesome work!

  7. Another thing I liked was that they kept Glokta’s inner dialogue incorprated into the graphic novel…

  8. Busy week – I’ve only just got around to reading this.

    And wow – fantastic! Bookmarked and looking forward to the printed version. I don’t care at all how the characters look, though I am looking forward to meeting Bayaz. I imagine him as a grumpy Richard Attenborough…

  9. It’s always really cool to see how different people interpret written material in visual format. I remember when The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out. Some things looked pretty much exactly as I imagined them to, others looked completely different, and the latter was definitely the most interesting and in some cases changed how I used to think about certain creatures characters. I feel similar about Logen in this. Personally I always imagined him looking much more weathered, scarred and ugly, but it’s really cool to see the artist’s interpretation even though it is quite different from mine.

  10. (I forgot to post this in my previous comment, sorry)

    I totally love what they did with Glokta though. I am among those who imagined him as a bit of an emperor Palpatine looking guy, but the way the artist portrays him here makes a lot more sense.

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  12. Amazeballs! When is the first print of 1-4 coming out?? Please be soon! Please be soon! Is there a pre-order? Who do I have to do unlicensed dental work on to get it? Where are my pliers?

  13. its really great but annoying that the printed version of it will take time till okt november…
    i really hope this is the first of many steps to make the firstlaw more popular and perhaps someday it will get the tv show in game of thrones style the first law deserved right from the start
    i mean now after REAL fantasy gets thanks to hbo game of thrones more attention of the public this is not such an utopia anymore…

  14. I am enjoying the graphic novel so far and I like the new format that allows for it to be free.

    SPOILERS. People who have not read finished the first book or are only reading the comics you should stop reading……
    I am very interested to see when the bloody-nine first appears, will the writers make him visibly look different since it is a comic (like the mini-series ‘Jekyl’)? My only nitpick is that the violence seems somewhat toned down. I may have forgotten but didn’t Glotka begin to chop off Rews fingers in the book to get him to talk? Idk I’m just afraid that when the bloody-nine does show up he wont be twisted/evil/violent/psycho enough. I’ve always imagined the bloody-nine appearances to be very violent and raw. Half the time, by the end of his appearance, the bloody-nine does this shrill laugh with his head cocked to the side looking like a total psychopath all the while being covered from head to toe in blood. If they show something along those lines then this comic will be that much better, otherwise I don’t think the comic-only viewing audience will get that same sense of awe, satisfaction and terror that book audience received. (On second thought, who cares at least I get to see one of the most badass characters in all of fiction in illustrated form.)

  15. Yeah it’s nice, but seriously, Glokta and Ninefingers are too handsome.
    Espacially Logen, who is, by all accounts, an ugly brute. He’s scarred and abused. Comic Logen is a beauty queen with a scar painted across her nose.
    The only woman novel-Ninefingers gets with is Ferro Maljinn, a demon brood. Comic Logen would get princesses falling to their knees with their robes hitched up.

    Comic Glokta is actually an honorable effort, I see his face twitching, and his teeth missing. But he is considered repulsive by more than one character. Ok, mostly Jezal, who isn’t exactly tolerant, and Ardee does marry him.

  16. I think Sand Dan Glokta is 100% accurate. In the books, if he is about the same age as Collem West, then he would be in his early to mid thirties. Everything about the character I the comic is accurate; the hair, craggy face, athletic build twisted to ruin, even the left eye. Bravo!

  17. I gotta confess something. I tend to “cast” what I read, and I even consider whether the book/series I’m reading would work better as a TV series or a movie.

    In the case of First Law, I thought TV series. Starring Ray Stevenson as Logen, Jamie Campbell Bower as Jezal and Mark Sheppard as Glokta. And the craziest thing is, these depictions may not look just like the actors I chose, but I could easily see those actors being made up to look like the depictions here!

    BTW, I also had Ben Kingsley playing Bayaz, even though I don’t think he’d do TV. I just couldn’t help it. In my mind, Bayaz will ALWAYS look like Ben Kingsley.

  18. As someone who’s read all your books Joe, I would love nothing more than a movie or HBO series adaptation of the story, but graphic novels will also do just fine. How can this be released quicker? I would happily pay money if it meant a new issue every month.


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