Prince Valiant and the Outlaws

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. with music by Leo Arnaud

RCA Victor Y-611 ©1947

Total Time: 19:37

Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur, or simply Prince Valiant, is a long-run comic strip created by Hal Foster in 1937. It is an epic adventure that has told a continuous story during its entire history, and the full stretch of that story now totals more than 3700 Sunday strips. Currently, the strip appears weekly in more than 300 American newspapers, according to its distributor, King Features Syndicate.

Edward, the Duke of Windsor, called Prince Valiant the “greatest contribution to English literature in the past hundred years.” Generally regarded by comics historians as one of the most impressive visual creations ever syndicated, the strip is noted for its realistically rendered panoramas and the intelligent, sometimes humorous, narrative. The format does not employ word balloons. Instead, the story is narrated in captions positioned at the bottom or sides of panels. Events depicted are taken from various time periods, from the late Roman Empire to the High Middle Ages, with a few brief scenes from modern times (commenting on the “manuscript”).

While drawing the Tarzan comic strip, Foster wanted to do his own original newspaper feature, and he began work on a strip he called Derek, Son of Thane, later changing the title to Prince Arn. King Features manager Joseph Connelly eventually renamed it Prince Valiant. In 1936, after extensive research, Foster pitched his concept to William Randolph Hearst, who had long wanted to distribute a strip by Foster. Hearst was so impressed that he gave Foster ownership of the strip.

Prince Valiant began in full-color tabloid sections on Saturday February 13, 1937. The first full page was strip #16, which appeared in the Sunday New Orleans Times Picayune. The internal dating changed from Saturday to Sunday with strip #66 (May 15, 1938). The full-page strip continued until 1971 when strip #1788 was not offered in full-page format—it was the last strip Foster drew. The strip continues today by other artists in a half page format.

In addition to two Prince Valiant phonograph records (released in 1947 and 1968) and three coloring books, Treasure Books published a small 1954 children’s book with Foster art in color.

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