Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Setting Sail

With all of us about to say goodbye to 2011 and "set sail" into a new year, the following sequence of panels from installment #2139 of Prince Valiant seems somewhat appropriate.

Happy New Year from A Prince Named Valiant!








Art: Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy (from installment 2139, February 5, 1978). At this point in Prince Valiant's run, John Cullen Murphy, who had been quietly assisting Hal Foster since 1970, was well into his first decade of drawing the strip over Foster's writing and roughs.
Text: Hal Foster.
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 48): Return to Camelot, comprising pages, or installments, 2124 (October 23, 1977) through 2167 (August 20, 1978). Fantagraphics Books, 2003.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

At the Ready


. . . for an attack from the skies!


Art: Gary Gianni (from installment #3681, August 26, 2007)
Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sold!


Abducted by a Corsair raiding party, Prince Valiant is sold into slavery and forced to work in a Sahara salt mine. His eldest son Arn, with the help of Salam Fulda and Ahmed Al-Gebr, would eventually rescue him.

Prince Valiant's travails in the Sahara meant he was absent from Camelot for a rather momentous event.

It should also be noted that this was not the first time that the Prince of Thule had endured such mistreatment. In his youth he had been sold into slavery to a rich Syrian merchant. Guile and patience, however, helped secure his freedom.


Art: John Cullen Murphy (February 1980).
Text: Cullen Murphy.
Source: The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia); from the collection of Michael J. Bayly (1982).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Man of Action


Art: Hal Foster (from installment #383, June 11, 1944).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 4): 1943-1944 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).



Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #356, December 5, 1943).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 4): 1943-1944 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).



Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #373, April 2, 1944).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 4): 1943-1944 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).



Art: John Cullen Murphy (from installment #2484, September 16, 1984).
Text: Cullen Murphy.
Source: The Prince Valiant Page – Gary Gianni (Flesk Publications, 2008).



Art: Gary Gianni (from installment #3544, January 9, 2005).
Source: The Prince Valiant Page – Gary Gianni (Flesk Publications, 2008).




Art: Gary Gianni (from installment #3713, April 6, 2008).
Text: Mark Schultz.
Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Old Beyond Years


Prince Valiant encounters Merlin for the first time in many years. "From the powers of night I asked for immortality," says the wizard, "but forgot to ask for youth."


Art: John Cullen Murphy (November 1983).
Text: Cullen Murphy.
Source: The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia); from the collection of Michael J. Bayly (1986).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Merlin Ambrosius


Adventuring in the Underworld, Prince Valiant and Sir Gawain are rescued from a raging river by a strangely rejuvenated Merlin Ambrosius.

Upon a mysteriously phosphorescent shore, the long-vanished wizard responds to the dumbfounded look on Prince Valiant's face: "Close your mouth, young prince. It is indeed I, although you'll find me advanced to a somewhat ethereal state."

Merlin then explains how he was made immortal by the magicks of the sea spirit Nimue (right). He now roams the Underworld with the daughter that this enchantress bore him. This "more spirit than human" child is also named Nimue.





 
"Now my young Nimue tells me it is time to go."


Art: Gary Gianni.
Text: Mark Schultz.
Image 1: From installment #3810, February 14, 2010. Source: Sunday Telegraph (Sydney, Australia).
Images 2-3: From installment #3813, March 7, 2010. Source: Pioneer Press (St. Paul, USA).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sir Gawain



NOTE: A recent visitor to this site requested I highlight his favorite character from Prince Valiant. I'm more than happy to oblige!


As a faithful friend and companion of Prince Valiant, the debonair Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table and nephew of King Arthur, has long been a popular supporting character in the long-running Prince Valiant adventure strip.





Above: The young Prince Valiant meets Sir Gawain for the first time. The lad is soon serving as Gawain's squire and journeying with him to the court of King Arthur.

Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #16, May 29, 1937).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).




Above: Sir Gawain does battle with a "great sea dragon"!

Art: Hal Foster (from installment #17, June 5, 1937).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).




Above: The enchantress Morgan Le Fay desires Sir Gawain's agreement to be her husband – so much so that she captures and imprisons him in her castle. Prince Valiant's initial attempt to rescue him fails miserably. He is drugged, imprisoned, and his nights made sleepless by all manner of ghastly apparitions.

Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #58, March 19, 1938).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).




Above: Gawain looks on knowingly and in amusement at the love-struck Val and the fair maid Ilene. The young couple's relationship, however, would be a tragic one.

Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #39, November 6, 1937).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).




Above: Sir Gawain to the rescue!

Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #388, June 16, 1944).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 4): 1943-1944 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).




Above: Sir Gawain – always the ladies' man!

Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #58, August 11, 1940).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 2): 1939-1940 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2010).




Sir Gawain as drawn by John Cullen Murhpy (installment #2164, July 30, 1978)

Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 48): Return to Camelot – Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy (Fantagraphics Books, 2003).




Sir Gawain as drawn by Gary Gianni (from installment #3626, August 6, 2006).

Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).


Image 1: From installment #298, October 25, 1942. Art: Hal Foster. Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 3): 1941-1942 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).
Image 2: From installment #64, April 30, 1938. Art and text: Hal Foster. Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Constantinople


En route from Camelot to the Misty Isles, Prince Valiant and his family arrive in Constantinople, "womb of cutthroats, tomb of saints, birthplace of emperors." The lovelorn Arn, however, has thoughts only for Maeve.

If you look in the top right-hand corner of this image you'll see part of the sticky tape I used to tape this particular Prince Valiant installment into one of the many scrapbooks that I compiled of the strip when I was a teenager! I still have them all! They're in my parents' keeping in Port Macquarie, Australia.



Art: John Cullen Murphy (from installment #2327, September 13, 1981).
Text: Cullen Murphy.
Source: The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia); from the collection of Michael J. Bayly (1984).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Neshem's Proposal


Prince Neshem of Ab'saban makes a proposal to Prince Valiant and his companion Skyrmir: Help transport Solomon's gold back to Ab'saban and they will be richly rewarded.


Art: Gary Gianni (from installment #3672, June 24, 2007).
Text: Mark Schultz.
Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted


Drugged and imprisoned by the sorceress Morgan Le Fey, Prince Valiant's nights are haunted by terrible visions.


Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #58, March 19, 1938).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Banishment of Mordred


After it is discovered that King Arthur's deathly illness is the result of being poisoned by his half-brother Mordred, who seeks the crown for himself, the king secretly recovers and then takes action.

Following is the text that accompanies the above illustration:

Before the assembled throng, Gawain strips Mordred of his sword and cuts the emblem from his tunic. Now Arthur draws Excalibur and plunges the blade into his own arm. The heavens tremble at his words: "Mordred, false knight and false brother, I spit you out. From this realm I banish you. Your estates and your wealth I give to the poor. May your children scorn you and your grandchildren call you Judas. Behold, from my arm spills the blood we once shared. I am cleansed. Begone, viper, I know you not."







Left: Watching from a nearby balcony are (from left) Sir Launcelot, Queen Guinevere, Aleta, and Galan.

And why, you may ask, is Prince Valiant absent from this momentous event? To find out, click here.










Art: John Cullen Murphy (July 1980).
Text: Cullen Murphy.
Source: The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia); from the collection of Michael J. Bayly (1983).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In All Ways Different


Sold into slavery to a rich Syrian merchant, the young Prince Valiant vows to secure freedom. With guile and patience he works his way up from field slave to member of the household staff. In time he tricks the merchant's pampered daughter into helping him escape.


Art and text: Hal Foster (from installment #234, August 3, 1941).
Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 3): 1941-1942 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2011).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Draco's Demise



With his plans thwarted and his wife's sorcery defeated, Draco, the would-be ruler of Camelot, is confronted by Prince Valiant.

Ironically, his wife Maldubh's "spell" on the scaffolding around the walls of Camelot (mischief that involved an infestation of wood burrowing beetles!) ensures Draco's demise.









Art: Gary Gianni (September 18, 2011).
Text: Mark Shultz.
Source: TimesUnion.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mordred


Mordred, King Arthur's traitorous half-brother, as drawn by
John Cullen Murphy in installment #2511 (March 24, 1985).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lake Dragons



Art: Gary Gianni (from installment #3567, June 19, 2005).
Text: Mark Schultz.
Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Young Love


A lovely illustration of Prince Valiant and his wife Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles. It's also one of the very few depictions of the Prince of Thule with facial hair!


Art: Hal Foster (1947).
Source: One of the Prince Valiant comic books my father collected in 1954-55 and which were published and distributed by Associated Newspaper Ltd. of 60-70 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Arthur in Flight!


In a "war of boasts" with the Norsemen of Thule, the knights of Camelot
conjure the image of King Arthur borne aloft by gyrphons!


Art: John Cullen Murphy (from installment #2496, December 9, 1984).

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mark Schultz on Prince Valiant as an American Invention

Following, with added images and links, is an excerpt from the introduction to Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot by Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz, the current illustrator and writer, respectively, of the Prince Valiant adventure strip. This introduction is written by Schultz (pictured at right).

__________________________


As I was about to begin to write my first Prince Valiant strip, King Features Syndicate editor-in-chief Jay Kennedy gave me a bit of advice, which I will attempt to adequately recall: “Although Valiant is an epic adventure, with lots of opportunity for pageantry and action, remember that it’s Val’s relationship with his wife and family that keeps the strip accessible and popular.”

That advice has proven itself for me and artist Gary Gianni. The emotions that follow from the personal lives of those associated with the epic give it a human scale. Valiant works best when the pull of family equals the pull of adventure.




Prince Valiant is, of course, an American invention. Although it is cloaked and housed in a wonderfully detailed fantasy of seventh-century Europe, in heart its themes and values are totally of the New World. Although populated with characters drawn lightly from Arthurian legend, it has little to do with the European literary traditions upheld by Arthurian chroniclers Malory, Tennyson, and White, Its sensibilities come straight from the American middle class.

The lead characters may be of royal blood, but the strip has never treated them as if their birthright allows them any entitlement or inherent superiority. Breaking with the traditions of the European fairy tale and nationalistic legend, the characters in Prince Valiant, whether king or cordwainer, rise and fall on merit and personal initiative. No one gets a free ride by fact of birth, or by divine fiat.



Val is much more closely related to the iconic American characters created by Horatio Alger: his success is based on hard work and pluck. His royal Thule blood means nothing when, at the start of the saga, he and his deposed family are stranded in the inhospitable fens of eastern England. It is his strength, skill, intelligence, and, most of all, extreme cleverness that raise him to knighthood in Camelot. His abilities and aptitude lead him to travel much of the known world (as well as the unknown continents to the west), to battle Huns, Saxons, and Byzantines, or to win the Queen of the Misty Isles for his fair bride – all while having sense of inherent privilege consistently deflated.

Most importantly, Val must constantly win his irreverent family’s respect by word and deed. Which brings us back to Editor-in-Chief Kennedy’s words of advice.

Val may be a mighty warrior, but he is also one of us. His wife and children keep him in his place, alongside those of us who don’t star in our own comic strip. Sometimes Val just doesn’t get any respect and he’s that much better for it.

Gary and I know a good thing when we see it and have done our best to maintain Val’s status as that hardworking, sometimes put-upon, sometimes self-indulgent, Regular Joe who just happens to be a prince and the very best at what he does.

– Mark Schultz



Above: When artist Gary Gianni's mother passed away late in 2008,
Mark Schultz gave his partner some time off by filling in with installment #3756
(February 1, 2009), from which this illustration is taken.



Image 1: Photographer unknown.
Image 2: From installment #3539, December 5, 2004. Art: Gary Gianni. Text: Mark Schultz. Source: Prince Valiant: Far from Camelot – Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008).
Image 3: From installment #2165, August 6, 1978. Art: Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy. Text: Hal Foster. Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 48): Return to Camelot – Hal Foster and John Cullen Murphy (Fantagraphics Books, 2003).
Image 4: From installment #15, May 22, 1937. Art and text: Hal Foster. Source: Prince Valiant (Vol. 1): 1937-1938 – Hal Foster (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).
Image 5: From installment #2449, January 15, 1984. Art: John Cullen Murphy. Text: Cullen Murphy. Source: Prince Valiant, Book One – King Features Syndicate (Blackthorne Publishing, Inc., 1986).
Image 6: From installment #3756, February 1, 2009. Art: Mark Shultz. Source: The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion – Brian M. Kane (Fantagraphics Books, 2009).