Department of Classics and Archaeology

'THREE' out now! Comic book shows the other side of Sparta


THREE cover art

THREE comic book, which shows the other side of Sparta, was researched in collaboration with Nottingham classicists.

In response to the success of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300, and its film version by Zack Snyder, Kieron Gillen wanted to write a comic book treatment of Sparta which more closely reflected the social realities and relations behind the Spartans’ heavily mythologised warlike reputation. Gillen’s research was already influenced by Lynn Fotheringham’s paper and podcasts on 300 and Stephen Hodkinson’s work on the Spartan helots. When Gillen made contact with the department through Lynn, Stephen became historical consultant for THREE, commenting in detail on text and images (artwork by Ryan Kelly and Jordie Bellaire) on the basis of his research on helotage, the military and civic culture of the Spartiates, and the roles of Spartan women. Gillen has said that “without recent Nottingham research, THREE would have been a different and much poorer work” and has talked in interviews about how he collaborated with Stephen in the interests of historical authenticity.

THREE, published on 9 October 2013, is a fictional story of three fugitive helots on the run from the Spartan 300 set during the period of Sparta’s decline – a creative response to the over-glorification of the Spartans and neglect of the helots in the graphic novel and film 300.

Lynn Fotheringham said “I heard about Kieron’s new project through mutual friends in the comics industry and I was delighted to hear about his take on Sparta and his enthusiasm for a historical approach. All three of us have a high opinion of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, which tells a great story in Miller’s famously dynamic art-style (with wonderful colouring by Lynn Varley), but it is deliberately mythologizing the past – Miller even uses the Greek idea of the ‘heroic nude’ – whereas THREE is taking a different, grittier, and more historical approach. It has been fascinating to watch the process of historical consultation, and we have all learned a lot – Stephen and I have learned about putting a story together in comics form, and the practical ways in which creative and documentary impulses combine.”

Stephen Hodkinson said “Kieron Gillen is a highly-rated comics author with a global reputation and he’s done a great job of combining the demands of the ‘action comics’ genre with the quest for historical authenticity. I have long been interested not only in Spartan social history, but also in the different ways in which Spartan society has been received by different people in different historical periods, so I found it fascinating to collaborate with Kieron as a historical consultant.”

Posted on Tuesday 15th October 2013

Department of Classics and Archaeology

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