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Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is revealing for the first time his debut as a published author — and it was a fan letter to Marvel that in a small way foreshadowed his creation of Westeros.

The author details what happened in History channel’s upcoming two-part documentary Superheroes Decoded; an experience that he says changed his life.

“I started writing letters to all the comics I loved,” Martin says in the above clip. “The Thing was my favorite character … I wrote a letter about Fantastic Four #17 which was the first time anything of mine had appeared in print.”

From the letter: “Dear Stan and Jack, FF#17 was greater than great! It will live forever as one of the greatest FF comics ever printed. Ergo, as one of the greatest of all comics. In what other comic mag could you see things like a hero falling down a manhole, and a president of the USA leaving a conference that may determine the fate of the world to put his daughter to bed?” Martin’s full letter is reprinted below.

A few thoughts on this:

♦ It’s awesome to hear Martin as an early enthusiastic fanboy of a multi-character fantasy universe, not entirely like the one he would go on to create (and far more polite than most fans writing online today).
♦ He used the word “ergo”! The issue came out in 1963 and Martin was only 15 when he wrote the letter.
♦ Young Martin specifically appreciated Marvel having a hero accidentally fall down a manhole. One of the most compelling literary innovations in Thrones is how Martin took traditional-seeming leading man fantasy heroes and had them meet realistically tragic fates due to a lack of foresight (spoiler alert for those not caught up on the show) — from Ned Stark getting executed, to Robb Stark being killed at a wedding, to Jon Snow being assassinated by his own men.
♦ If you’re wondering why Martin added that extra “R” to his middle initials, he once explained that the first “R” is from his father’s name (Raymond) and the second is a name that came with his Catholic confirmation (Richy) but ultimately the reason he started using two middle initials was to stand out professionally since “George Martin” is a pretty common name.

See the letter below:

Credit: Marvel

Superheroes Decoded details how the rise of the superhero parallels America’s rise as a superpower in the 20th century by talking to top creators at both DC and Marvel. The special airs Sunday, April 30 and Monday, May 1 on History.