Booklog: 300

February 8, 2007

Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
Read: 2.6.07
Rating: Good

After the success of Sin City, I have high hopes for Warner Brother’s 300, which will be in theaters this March. I very much like the idea of turning graphic novels into films by strictly adapting the layout, color, and dialog into a motion picture. The reason Sin City was so marvelous is that it was less blockbuster film and more comic book come to life. Since Frank Miller, the artist behind Sin City and 300, is enormously talented, moviemakers are wise to transfer his creations to the screen as purely as possible.

Of course, all of this depends on whether you’re one for blood, carnage, and warriors flying fifteen feet through the air to cut off the limbs of their enemies. A willingness to take comic-book dialog for what it is — a supplement to the pictures — is helpful as well. I, as you can probably tell, am one for such things.

Frank Miller’s 300 is a fast-and-loose retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, in which the vastly outnumbered Spartan army of King Leonidas held off the massive army of the Persians, led by Xerxes. Miller’s focus is on the superior toughness and training of the Spartan forces, and their attempt to defend “the only free men the world has ever known” against the invading barbarian forces. Leonidas and his men fight with the hope that, even if they are defeated, the memory of their valor and bravery will inspire the Greeks to victory. This is, of course, what happens — the story of their last stand is well-known, and well-depicted in 300, only the most recent of attempts to commemorate it.

Miller’s art in 300 has the same frenetic, rough style that he uses in Sin City, but with plenty of dark, rich tones to give it life and warmth. He takes great pleasure in depicting carnage, and even more in demonstrating the ruthlessly efficient fighting tactics of the Spartans. The book’s wide layout (it’s 15 x 10) lends itself to sweeping battle scenes full of gorgeous detail. Originally published in five installment, the novel is very short (88 pages) and can be read in less than an hour. The sparsity of dialog allows the reader to enjoy the art, and the story moves with just the right pace: I didn’t feel the need to rush through to complete the story, but didn’t feel like putting it down until I was finished.

In sum, I would recommend this graphic novel to anyone who’s interested in seeing how an immensely talented artist can retell a classic tale with his own style, and to any one who happens to see the film and wonder whether the book is any good. It’s not Frank Miller’s best work, but it’s stunning nonetheless.



  1. […] of the Sin City collection, so I’m a fan. I loved the movie, and I love Frank Miller (cf. 300, The Dark Knight Returns, etc.)  The high-contrast black and white (mostly black) style he uses in […]

  2. I just love the classics!

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