Robot 6

300 + a cease and desist letter waiting to happen = 400 BC

Huh, now this looks familiar … a graphic novel called 400 BC recently came across the Comic Book Resources review desk. Here’s the cover:

400 BC

The book, originally published by a company called Campfire in India and set to be published by Random House in the United States in May, is about 10,000 Greek soldiers invading Persia and things not going so well. Which is a completely different story from 300 soldiers defending their homes against the Persians, like in Frank Miller’s 300:

300

So we’re talking about two separate events — 300 happened circa 480 BC, while 400 BC is obviously set 80 years later.

And yet … it’s hard not to get a “Huh, that seems like an obvious swipe” vibe from the title, logo and cover. You’d think they might have gone a little bit farther to differentiate it from 300, either by going with a different name, or at the very least go with a different font and color for the logo. What do you think?

When asked, Dark Horse had no comment.

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Comments

12 Comments

I don’t see that much similarity.

It’s just another retelling of Greek history with a cover that makes the reader think it’s about Greek history.

Books and movies do this all the time: trying to ride the tailcoats of a similer and more successful property. Not saying it’s a bad thing, but I have no doubt this was intentional. And they should have to change it. It’s purposefully misleading. Actually, maybe it is a bad thing.

Yeah, those guys are gonna be in trouble when Frank Miller whips out that legal document signed by the ancient Greeks and Persians saying he’s their exclusive biographer.

Hollowpoint_Ninja

February 25, 2011 at 2:32 am

I see this sort of rip on dvd covers all the time. Forget what movie it was but there was an even more blatant swipe of the 300 dvd cover…

Concerned Comic Citizen

February 25, 2011 at 4:39 am

MAJOR FAIL! Who ever wrote this article knows NOTHING about Copyrights or Trademarks. HACK!

This article said absolutely nothing about Copyrights nor Trademarks. The comment was about swipes, which this obviously is. And don’t call people hacks, especially when JK Parkin is writing articles and you’re writing (incorrectly, might I add) on a message board.

Blood is red. War is red. What color would you use that would “pop” the same way?

As for “300″, it’s more like 1400+ (“300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others” -Wikipedia)

That’s a hoplite on the Campfire cover, a generic Greek soldier of the age. Sparta did supply soldiers for the mercenary armies depicted in “400 BC”.

Compare that cover to the ACTUAL book cover for 300:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/imageviewer.asp?ean=9781569714027&imId=76876617
There’s not much similarity.

Yeah, it’s ancient Greece.
The wars are 80 years apart. Historically, that’s pretty close. Technology won’t change much, unlike say the difference between World War I and the Persian Gulf War. However, the Greco-Persian Wars ended in 449 B.C.

Then there were the Peloponnesian Wars (431 – 404 BC). Greeks fighting each other. A big historical event.

By the time of 400 B.C., Athens was fighting against Sparta, and the Persians were biding their time… which would come in 387 B.C., when the Spartans signed a peace treaty with the Persians to end the Corinthian War and place Sparta as the ruling power in Greece.

300 [sic] is about an heroic last stand against an overwhelming opponent: 1400+ vs. 100,000 – 300,000 soldiers.

400 BC is about a revolt in Persia and the Greek mercenaries who fought on the side opposed to the Persian king. Once their employer (the king’s younger brother) was killed in battle, the mercenaries had no boss, no food, no pay, no friends, no reason to fight. Xenophon chronicles the retreat of the 10,000, which is the basis for this book. It’s a bit like Napoleon in Russia.

Is it a swipe? Not when the actual covers are compared. Are they similar? Sure. Ancient Greek military history. Greeks and Persians fighting each other.

Had Campfire depicted the Battle of Marathon or Plataea, then there might be criticism for riding coattails.

Although their stories are very different, Supreme is still a swipe of Superman. The Midnighter is still a swipe of Batman. And 400 is still a swipe of 300.

Similar subject, different approach.

They’re selling it in the UK now, so it must be on the level. See the following link for pictures:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/400-BC-Story-Ten-Thousand/dp/938002813X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298658642&sr=1-1

I must say, it looks pretty good actually. I thought it would look a lot worse.

Actually, Supreme was a deconstruction of Superman. Some of the covers might have been swipes/homages.
Same with Midnighter. Archetypes and analogs.

Superman, with his “Fortress of Solidarity” in the recent issue, seems to be a rather blatant swipe of the “Supremacy” seen in the early Alan Moore issues of Supreme.

“Swipe” … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swipe_(comics) … usually refers to artwork copied completely… no change of viewpoint, figure, or layout. Given the design of the actual book from Frank Miller, this is rather unlikely.

Now… “knockoffs”… that’s producing something similar to profit off of the popularity of a specific title.
Since 300 was published back in 1999, the movie in 2006, I doubt there’s any such intent. Especially when both are based on historical, not fictional, events. Campfire produces many classical graphic novels, both from literature and from history. “Sword and sandals” epics have always been popular, because it’s just a shield and a weapon (usually a sword, although spears were more useful) with minimal armor.

JK, did you read the Campfire GN? Any similarities inside? Or were you just jumping to conclusions based on the title and cover?

I have to go with Torsten on this issue. In fact, the sci-fi channel showed a movie last night called ‘The Terminators’. Mr James Cameron had nothing to do with it, but it’s there for all to see on the sci-fi channel.

And man! What are you doing calling Dark Horse?

Please, become a police informant. The cops will pay better:)

Well, if it is set in 400BC – then it’s gotta be an adaptation of the Anabasis, right?

That would be the ancient text that inspired the classic 1979 movie ‘The Warriors’.

According to a reviewer on imdb.com: “it was widely known back in the day that The Warriors was based on the ancient Greek nonfiction tale Anabasis, written around 370 BC by the Spartan general Xenophon (it’s also published under the title The Persian Expedition). In this classic tale, a battalion of 10,000 Spartan mercenaries join the Persian emperor Cyrus for a war in Asia Minor (i.e. Turkey). Cyrus’s army is defeated, the Spartan leaders are captured, and the remaining force must make their way across country, fighting various hostile tribes along the way, experiencing their own internal power struggles, until they reach the safety of the sea. I’m shocked that only one reviewer seemed to be familiar with this; in the 70s almost nobody talked about the movie without mentioning it.”

If it is the same story, I don’t see how copyright could be applied to a text that is obviously very old. I do remember that they were going to make a ’300′ style movie out of the Anabasis story – that must have been in a cash in on 300.

Sure, this is probably a cash in on a successful product – but a lot of movies copied the Matrix when it was successful. If you make a movie with a shark in it – everyone is going to compare it with Jaws.

Where do you draw the line?

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