Comics – Frank Miller’s 300

6 03 2007


Originally uploaded by swftoys.
I have to admit my ignorance of the significance of Frank Miller’s excellent 300 graphic novel. I have noticed the release of 300 in hardcover format some months back at the local bookstore but the name Frank Miller alone was not able to make be spend my comic dollar on it. I guess I did not have a good experience reading Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. It was not until I caught sight of trailers of the movie adaptation of 300 that I understood the story behind 300!

For the war history enthusiast in me, I was intrigued that the graphic novel provided a glimpse of what transpired in the Battle of Thermopylae. How 300 Spartans AND 400 Thebans AND 700 Thespians stood their ground at ‘the hot gates’ in an attempt to stop a much larger invading Persian army. Chief over the Spartan force is King of Sparta, Leonidas. He had led his 300 personal bodyguards there, leaving the main Sparta army in the city because he believed the prophecy of the oracle that a king from the line of Hercules must sacrifice his life to save the city from invasion. Another reason was it was a time of the year where war was forbidden for Spartans.

Having watched some of the trailers from the 300 movie, I was confident that it translated the graphic novel panel by panel onto the big screen. The depictions of characters such as Leonidas, Xerxes, the Immortals were exactly how Frank Miller envisioned them. The panel which showed the Spartan phalanx advancing and forcing Perisan troops off a cliff is also in the movie. So the movie itself should be what it really means to see the pages of a comic come alive!

300 the graphic novel was originally printed on double-page spreads. This has been reproduced in this latest version with a longer single page format. Now you can enjoy every scene in 300 in a full page! I really loved the Frank Miller’s art in 300. At times, I found it resembling those ancient drawings explorers found in caves of ages past. So it does convey the imagination of ancient Greece in 480 BC very well. For a background set in the Battle of Thermopylae, there were many elements of importance. Bravery, belief, self-sacrifice, perserverance are the qualities numbered among them. The artwork fittingly draws attention to the story, dialogue and characters by not being picture perfect in the rendering of human anatomy proportions and movements. That worked for me.

I believe the dialogue in 300 also borrowed lines from history records. At the end of the graphic novel are some recommended readings which probably served as material for Frank Miller’s inspiration to what transpired between the Greeks and Persians. Lines such as “Come take them”, “Come back with your shield or on it” and “Then we’ll shall fight in the shade” are all used in Miller’s graphic novel with some paraphrasing as seen fit.

300 literally paints the story leading to the Battle of Thermopylae bringing prominence to this battle that will probably otherwise be unknown to most people today. It is not only an excellent work of art that will always rank amongst the best in the comic industry but it is an outstanding visual take on a piece of forgotten history.

Now I look forward to Sin City!





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