Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938 arrived in the mail a few days ago. When I was a kid I really didn’t “get” Prince Valiant because I was a kid and Prince Valiant was an adult comic strip. I wasn’t interested in stories about loss of home and hearth, defending one’s honor, domestic life, death, revenge, and gory violence. Speaking of violence, Prince Val is one of the most violent characters in the story, though he only kills in self-defense. It’s a little creepy that he sometimes grins as he slits a throat or two.
I came back to Prince Valiant because I kept running into Hal Foster’s work in my image searches for “pen and ink”. I really dig the line-drawing and water color look. And I especially appreciate that Foster didn’t allow dialog bubbles to clutter up his beautiful drawings. There’s not a single, ugly dialog balloon in his 37 years of drawing the comic.
The Fantagraphic editions are gorgeous. I want them all! Each one covers 2 years of the Sunday-published strip, which comes out to 104 pages per volume. There are 19 volumes available covering all of the strips drawn by Hal Foster, 37 years worth up to 1974. After he stopped drawing the strip, he continued to write the story into his 90s. What a guy.
Check out the current version of Prince Valiant at http://comicskingdom.com/prince-valiant.