Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938

 

After nearly six years drawing Sunday Tarzan pages, Hal Foster grew tired of doing someone’s else's character, and following someone else's script.

So he created a character of his own, called at first called Derek, Son of Thane, and later Prince Arn. But by the time the strip premiered on Feb 13, 1937. a savvy King Features exec changed the name to Prince Valiant.



This new reprint series from Fantagraphics is a new opportunity to read the strip from the beginning, and hopefully follow it at least until 1971, when Foster laid up his pen. (He did continue to write the script, though, until 1980).

The reproduction here is crisper than that in Fantagraphics earlier reprint set (1984-2004), and for the first time, the colors match those seen in the original Sunday papers.

Volume 1 reveals how Val’s father, the King of Thule (now Norway), was driven from his kingdom into the wild fens of Britain, how Val went to Camelot as a squire for Sir Kay and earn the respect of King Arthur and the Round Table gang. By the end of this volume, he’s an accomplished warrior and ready to return to his family and help his father retake his throne. 



Foster’s art is amazing from day one, but grows more sophisticated as the weeks progress. I’m now reading Volume 2, and good as these Volume 1 samples are - the work in Volume 2 is even better.

You won’t see Val wearing his trademark blue tunic and red stallion logo in this book, because he’s not yet a knight. He earns that rank early in Volume 2, so he’ll look more familiar in my next review.



11 comments:

G said...

One of the very few cartoons that I actually look forward to reading every Sunday.

I always marveled on how incredibly detailed the artwork was, since nothing I've seen before or since in the Sunday comics comes even remotely close to this strip.

Deka Black said...

This character... i have it associted with one of my best chilhood memories.

In a visit to my grandparents, me and my brothers were really bored. And, like all little kids being bored, can't stop complaining.

Then our grandfather took a really old spanish edition of Prince Valiant And we were silent for the rest of the visit!

Charles Gramlich said...

I used to always read this and thought it had a pretty good story. A bit too much of what has gone before with each strip but generally a fun story.

Albie The Good said...

There will never be another Foster... inredible stuff!

Ron Scheer said...

Brings back my boyhood and the Sunday comics. I didn't appreciate the artwork then. Pearls before swine...

Richard R. said...

Enjoyed this post, especially as I just had a peek at that Volume 2 hardcover. I'm very tempted to go to the Fantagraphics website and see abut these.

Cap'n Bob said...

I once had 100+ Sunday comic sections from 1936-1939, with a beautiful PV strip in each one. Alas, I left it behind when I moved from Bob Juanillo's apartment and never got it back.

Evan Lewis said...

Alas don't even begin to cover it, Cap'n.

Cap'n Bob said...

Yep. And these were Sunday comic SECTIONS, with many pages and strips, unlike the paltry comic sections in our local rag.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I always liked Prince Valiant and remember reading it every Sunday. Thanks for letting me know about this volume!

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