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Archive for February, 2012

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

The Title Card for the colored episodes of "The Adventures of Sir Lancelot"

Back in January, I posted on the 1950s British TV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. I’ve now finished watching the series and I enjoyed it a great deal. It has a bit of humor and some wonderful sets and costumes. Furthermore, I think William Russell made a very good Sir Lancelot, and he actually is quite handsome and debonair, or at least, he grows on you and grew into the role as the series continued. In the first episode, the swordplay was laughable, but it improved throughout. Also, King Arthur was originally played by Bruce Seton in the first episode, but he looked old and doddering and was quickly replaced by Ronald Leigh-Hunt, who is a tall and fairly commanding yet likable Arthur. I was disappointed there was no love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, but it was a 1950s TV show, so innocence was important for television, I guess. I also was disappointed that there was nothing that suggested a connection from one episode to another, no overarching storyline or character motivations or desires to keep the story progressing. You could have watched any episode after the first one in any order and it would make no difference.

About halfway through the series, it became colorized, and the color really was splendid because it made the costumes stand out. Some of the costumes look a bit too effeminate for Lancelot to wear, but there’s no accounting for medieval—or 1950s TV versions of medieval—fashion.

Overall, I would give the series a B, or 4 out of 5 stars. I would rank it below the Merlin TV series, but it is far above the Starz’ Camelot series. (See previous posts to my blog for discussions of both series.)

It would be tedious to discuss all thirty episodes, but here are comments on a few of the episodes that are most notable, particularly those that borrow from Arthurian tradition:

Knight’s Choice: This episode is interesting because Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s traitor sister, is included. She was apparently previously banished from Camelot for trying to murder her brother Arthur. Now she hopes to return if she can get her son to be chosen as knight for an opening among the Round Table’s fellowship. Interestingly, Morgan’s son is named Rupert, not Mordred. Arthur agrees to let him compete with the other potential knights. Another contender is Sir Balin, whose father was squire to King Pel. (King Pel is most likely King Pellinore, and Sir Balin is found in Malory, although this episode has no other links to Malory, and I have no idea why Morgan’s son is named Rupert, unless it was to distance the show from Mordred and the incestuous twist—after all if Guinevere and Lancelot’s love is forbidden on 1950 television, incest surely won’t be approved. That said, it isn’t stated who Rupert’s father is). This episode also has a sort of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court twist when Merlin finds a way to delay the battle enough for an eclipse to take place, which will thwart Morgan’s plan to have her son win in battle over Balin by flashing light in his eye with a mirror. In the end, Rupert doesn’t get to join the Round Table—I guess that means he can’t stir up trouble—perhaps although eventually the series ended, this Camelot, then, did not fall.

The Thieves: Another episode drawing on Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee is X in which Arthur and Lancelot disguise themselves as ex-convicts to learn what chances these men have of earning a living.

The Shepherd’s War: This episode stands out because Sir Lancelot has been held a prisoner and grown a beard—the only time Russell sports a beard in the series. Although, throughout the series, Sir Kay, who comes off as a buffoon, sports a ridiculously fake mustache.

Sir Crustabread: This episode plays off the tale of Sir Gareth who plays a kitchen boy and goes off to rescue a maiden; the same concept was used in the first episode when Sir Lancelot found Brian, his squire, who was a kitchen boy. In this episode, Lancelot is mistaken by Lynette of Accolon, as a baker. He ends up being belittled by her as he rides with her to rescue her sister. When all is said and done, Lancelot saves the day and reveals his true identity, then kisses Lynette on the cheek—she says she’ll never wash it again.

Finally, the colored episodes trimmed down the theme song, which could be compared to songs like the theme to “Davy, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier.” The theme song actually grew on me after watching all these episodes and I found myself singing it around the house:

Now listen to my story, oh listen while I sing.

Of days of old in England when Arthur was the king.

Of Merlin the Magician, and Guinevere the Queen.

And Lancelot, the bravest knight the world has ever seen.

In days of old, when knights were bold,

This story’s told of Lancelot.

In days of old, when knights were bold,

This story’s told of Lancelot.

If you want the second verse, you’ll have to watch the series for yourself.

A complete episode guide to the series can be found at: http://ctva.biz/UK/ITC/SirLancelot.htm

I will post on last blog about this series in the weeks to come.

________________________

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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In celebration of Prince Valiant’s 75th anniversary this month, I decided it was finally time to watch the 1954 film. I had heard some negative things about the film, and I admit most of them are true, but it just depends on your tolerance level for the basic flaws of 1950s films. There was nothing terribly wrong with this film. In fact, I enjoyed it a great deal and would watch it again—and there aren’t many films I would watch again.

Rather than provided a full plot summary, since I don’t want to give away the whole story for those who haven’t seen the film, I’ll just point out what was good and bad about the film, and what was different from the Prince Valiant strip. For those looking for a full plot summary, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Valiant_%281954_film%29

Prince Valiant Film Poster 1954

Prince Valiant film poster - which doesn't do justice to the visual beauty of the film.

What is great, or at least good, about the film?

  • The color! The film is beautiful—the Cinemascope and the Technicolor are fantastic. The costumes are gorgeous, colorful, and reflect the colorfulness of Foster’s comic strip.
  • Foster’s illustrations are used as the backdrop at the beginning of the film while the credits are given.
  • The scenery is fabulous. There are three amazing castles in the film, and I only wish I knew what castles they were. The first castle, where Valiant and his parents reputedly live in an isolated part of Britain, I believe is Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland—an often photographed castle. The other two I did not recognize, but the castle used for Camelot specifically was stunning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any listing of where the movie was filmed.
  • The actors, for the most part. Wagner is not ideal as Valiant, but Janet Leigh is beautiful as Princess Aleta, as is Debra Paget as her sister Ilene. And James Mason blew me away—I always think of him as just being kind of old and gentlemanly, but with a beard he is quite dashing and debonair, even for a villain.
  • The film is fast-paced, and when it’s not, you don’t notice because your eyes are so busy enjoying the beauty of the film. I don’t understand all the bad reviews at Amazon complaining that it is slow—perhaps people like 21st century action films that lack character development. Give me a 1950s action film any day.
  • The special effects are quite good with the scene where the castle is on fire being very dramatic and effect as the good and bad guys battle. The sword fighting is also quite well done in my opinion, although I’m no expert on sword fighting.
  • The musical score by Franz Waxman. I never heard of Waxman before, but his music is fantastic. The film has a soundtrack that sounds a bit like and is worthy of Gone with the Wind. (Waxman created the scores for such great films as Sunset Boulevard, Demetrius and the Gladiators, and Rebecca.)

What is different from the comic strip?

  • Valiant and his parents are in exile but not exactly in the Fens, just a remote castle.
  • Valiant’s father is the king of Skanee, rather than Thule.
  • The villain, Sir Brack (played by James Mason) isn’t someone I recall from the comic strips—at least not the early ones. He is interestingly the grandson of Constans, who is also King Arthur’s grandfather, only Brack’s father did not acknowledge him. Consequently, Brack believes he deserves the throne and is plotting to win it for himself.
  • There is no witch Horrit, and no prophecy that Valiant will be unhappy.
  • Valiant is in love with Aleta, while in the comic strip, he’s in love with Ilene. Ilene is Aleta’s sister in the film, but I don’t recall a sister in the comic strip.
  • Valiant has a rival for the hand of the woman he loves, but instead of Prince Arn, it’s Gawain, and Valiant is too much of a friend to him to fight him for Aleta.
  • Val helps his father regain his kingdom, but it is not as peaceful a transition as in the comic strip where Sligon decides to trade Thule for the Fens. And I thought that plot twist a weakness in the strip anyway, so here Hollywood did better than Foster in my opinion.

Note: I won’t reveal whether Aleta dies, like Ilene does in the comic strip—that would be giving too much away.

What is bad, or could be better?

Admittedly, the film does have a few faults:

  • Robert Wagner as Prince Valiant—I don’t think he’s awful in the role. He’s okay. Many people complain about what a terrible actor he is, but I admit I enjoyed him in TV shows like Hart to Hart. The worst thing about him as Valiant is his hair. Somehow that long curled black hair works in the comic strip, but it looks silly on Wagner, and I’m sure it’s a wig—how did people in the Middle Ages get their hair to curl like that without a curling iron? I suspect they didn’t. Wagner also looks a bit too childish and silly, like he belongs in the TV series Merlin instead.
  • Sterling Hayden looks like a Gawain—he’s big and strong like a knight should be, but when he opens his mouth, he sounds like Howard Keel playing Wild Bill Hickok in Calamity Jane, and his word choice isn’t much better with phrases like “blast it” and “my beef-bones.”
  • The plot to kill Sligon includes stabbing him through the back of his throne, which is made of cloth in the back and set against a curtain. STUPID! What king would not have a solid back to his throne and put it against a wall? Seriously, the king always needs to watch his back.

I feel overall my complaints are few. The film is obviously part of the 1950s time period, but I honestly would rather watch these old movies than most of the films made today. If you like old movies, you will enjoy the film a great deal. If you love Prince Valiant and are willing to watch the film for what it attempts to do rather than for how it doesn’t match the comic strip, you’ll probably enjoy it as well.

It’s interesting to note that when Hal Foster was asked in an interview for his opinion of the film (reprinted in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 Fantagraphics), he said the following:

SCHREIBER: How did you like the movie version of Prince Valiant?

FOSTER: It was a magnificent film—the scenery, the castles, everything was beautiful. They used all my research: Sir Gawain had the right emblem on his shield, everything was right. But somehow, the story was a little bit childish…it was Hollywood.

SCHREIBER: Did you approve of the choice of Robert Wagner for the leading role?

FOSTER: I thought Wagner was a little bit immature—his face was immature, he ran around with his mouth open. But all in all I got a kick out of it; it was quite an experience [In certain ways] I had nothing to do with it: First they sent me the script and asked me to improve it by making suggestions, but they must have lost my letter. Then they paid me a fabulous salary to come out there; but I knew that I had no say, and that I’d just be heart-broken, because nothing I would say or do would change the Hollywood pattern.

If I haven’t yet, let me make it clear that I encourage people to see Prince Valiant for themselves. The film is available on Amazon On Demand and through a few other retailers.

________________________

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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When we last left Prince Valiant (see my review of Vol. 1), the young prince wanted to re-conquer his father’s kingdom of Thule but the invasion of England by Saxons put a damper on his plans. This second volume of the collected Prince Valiant strip begins with Valiant being knighted after he succeeds in creating a plan that leads to the successful defeat of the Saxons invading the Fens.

Prince Valiant Vol 2: 1939-1940

Prince Valiant Vol 2: 1939-1940, published by Fantagraphics

And once the Saxon invasion is defeated, Val successfully leads his people to Thule to achieve its re-conquest, not by violence but by rallying the people to turn against Sligon, who had previously stolen the crown from Val’s father. Old and fearing for his life, Sligon agrees to trade Thule for the English Fens where Val and his people have lived in exile.

With peace restored to Thule and his father restored to the throne, Val soon becomes bored and goes off on adventures again. After a strange adventure in the Cave of Time, Val decides to make his way to Rome, and joins in fighting the Huns, led by Attila, who has conquered the eternal city.

The rest of this second volume takes place far from King Arthur’s court, covering Val’s adventures as he fights the Huns in Europe. Val is joined in his efforts by Sir Gawain and Sir Tristram, who after many heroic feats of rescuing people from Hun rule, make their way to Rome. On the way, Val also defeats a giant through using his wits, and Val saves an oriental merchant from thieves, who in return gives him a necklace that protects him from being bound in chains while possessing it.

As they approach Rome, the three Knights of the Round Table befriend Aetius, the last great general of Rome, who has been out fighting the Huns. Aetius’ victories have made the Emperor Valentinian jealous so he plots to destroy him. And Gawain, who is always getting into sticky situations, also gets involved with a married woman, who then mistakes Val for Gawain. When Aetius’ men slay the emperor to protect him, Val and his friends have to flee Rome, and they split in the process. As this second volume ends, Val finds himself on a ship at sea, and we are told the next strip will be “Scylla and Charybdis.”

I have to admit that while the illustrations are magnificent as always for Hal Foster, and while Val has his two companions, Tristram and Gawain, who are from the Arthurian canon of characters, this volume is far less “Arthurian” than the previous one. That said, the storyline is very readable, the adventures colorful, and a variety of interesting characters introduced.

By the end of this volume, and the fourth year of the Valiant strip, it is apparent that readers must have found Valiant and his adventures entertainment enough regardless of how closely connected they were to the Arthurian legend.

Also, since these volumes were produced in 1939-1940 at the beginning of World War II, one wonders whether Foster’s depictions of Val fighting the Huns, despite the Huns being historically accurate for the time period of the stories, is not some sort of commentary upon the German invasion of much of Europe during this time. That said, Attila conquers Rome in the May 14, 1939 strip, which was several months prior to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Perhaps Foster just was fortunate in his timing, but doubtless, the succeeding months while Poland and France and other countries fell to Hitler, must have made the fighting against the Huns, commonly a derogatory name for the Germans, resonate with Foster’s readers.

Finally, I was curious to see that for numerous issues of the strip in this volume, there were “stamps” drawn in the corners of the strip, representing various Arthurian and historical people including Attila, Arthur, Charlemagne, modern soldiers, and countless others, with the message “Save this Stamp” written under them. Were the stamps for some sort of promotion where you received something free if you had so many stamps, or were they more like collectors’ stamps, where you just tried to save them for their own sake? They are not explained in the strip itself. I’d be interested if any of my other readers knew the reason for them.

I plan to take a break from reading Prince Valiant for a while now but will return to the write about the successive volumes in future blogs. And if you missed the special 75th anniversary strip of Prince Valiant, you can view it at this other wonderful blog devoted to Prince Valiant: http://aprincenamedvaliant.blogspot.com/2012/02/something-very-special.html

Happy 75th Birthday, Prince Valiant!

________________________

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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Prince Valiant Vol. 1 hal Foster

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 by Hal Foster

Because it’s the 75th anniversary of the Prince Valiant comic strip this month, I thought I would summarize and review the first volume of the series, now reprinted by Fantagraphics Book, which covers the first two years of the series in print. Fantagraphics is planning to reprint hopefully the entire series, but so far the first five have been released (the 5th is coming in March actually).

The Prince Valiant strip is subtitled “In the Days of King Arthur” and consequently some people have been skeptical about whether it really belongs in the Arthurian canon. In truth, it is often marginal as Valiant goes off on adventures on the Continent, far from King Arthur’s court, but Camelot remains home base throughout the series. Following is a summary of what occurs in this first volume. I usually don’t like to give away full plots, but since this volume is the beginning of the story, it’s important to clarify just how much of the strip is relevant to King Arthur.

The story begins with the King of Thule and his family being forced to flee from their country. They go to Britain, fighting the locals to land on the shore. At this time, Prince Valiant is just a boy. He looks to be between about ages six and eight in the strip. King Arthur, to keep the peace, allows the King and his faithful followers to settle in the Fens, a marshy area where the people live on islands in a swamp and make their way through the swamps on boats and rafts. Lizard type monsters are also hiding in the Fens.

Valiant grows up in this environment until he approaches manhood. One day, after fighting one of the monster lizards, Valiant sees a mysterious light far off in the Fens and is determined to find its source. In the process Valiant is attacked by a monster who turns out to be a “huge misshapen man, horrible in his deformities.” Valiant wounds the man but then cares for him and takes him home to his mother, who turns out to be the witch Horrit (the first time she is mentioned her name is Horrid, but Hal Foster must have decided to change the spelling in subsequent strips). This meeting is significant because Horrit makes a prophecy that will haunt Valiant for the rest of his life.

As the witch makes her prophecy, Val gazes into the fire and becomes dreamy until he has visions of castles and armies, knights in armor, and then a king and queen, whom the witch says is “Stupid Arthur and his flighty wench, Guinevere.” She goes on to prophesy, “And you will confront the unicorn, the dragon and the griffon, black men and yellow. You will have high adventure, but nowhere do I see happiness and contentment,” and she tells him already his greatest sorrow awaits him.

Valiant leaves the witch to discover his greatest sorrow—that his mother has died. After grieving, Valiant decides it’s time to set off to seek his fortune. Soon after, he meets Sir Lancelot and his squire, and when the squire is rude to him, Valiant pulls him off his horse and beats him to give him a lesson. Lancelot is good natured but stops the fight and then rides off with his squire. The incident makes Valiant determined to become a knight. Eventually, Valiant finds a horse, learns to ride, and then saves Sir Gawain from another knight who attacks Gawain. Soon Valiant and Gawain have formed a lasting friendship.

Gawain takes Valiant to Camelot where two conspirators soon after decide to kidnap Gawain and hold him for ransom. They trick Valiant and Gawain to visiting the Castle of Ereiwold where Gawain is captured and becomes a prisoner. Of course, Valiant eventually rescues him. After the rescue, however, Gawain gets wounded in a fight with another knight, and Val has to take his place to go on his first quest to rescue the fair maid Ilene’s parents, who are being held prisoner in their castle by an ogre.

Once he sneaks into the castle, Val soon realizes the ogre is a fake with makeup to make him look frightening. Val decides to use fear, the same weapon, to conquer the ogre, disguising himself and appearing like a flying demon in the castle’s hall. In time, Val defeats the ogre and his men, and he rescues Ilene’s parents.

Val is in love with Ilene by this point, but she is already betrothed to the King of Ord. Val wants to stay and fight for Ilene, but Gawain has gotten in trouble again, kidnapped by Morgan le Fey, half-sister of King Arthur. Val goes off to rescue his friend, making the mistake of confronting Morgan le Fey, who puts him under a spell, but in time, he realizes his food is drugged and he quits eating so he’s in his right mind. Then he is able to escape from the castle. Val goes to Merlin, who works his own spell to scare Morgan le Fey into freeing Gawain.

Gawain is freed in time for Val to be invited to a tournament to celebrate the marriage of Prince Arn of Ord and Ilene. Val is determined to challenge Arn, but the challenge occurs on a bridge, resulting in Arn falling and nearly drowning and Val saving him. They plan to fight again nevertheless, but when they begin, a Viking raid occurs and instead, they become allies against their enemies. Before the battle with the Vikings, Arn gives Val the famous Singing Sword, which bears a charm and of course helps him to defeat his enemies. Despite his success, Val is captured by his enemies and he and Ilene are taken over the sea, while hoping Arn will rescue them. In time, Val and Ilene are separated and Ilene ends up on a ship that sinks, leaving Val and Arn heartbroken.

Once Val and Arn return to Camelot, Lancelot tells them they are fortunate Ilene drowned because now they are friends whereas otherwise there always would have been strife between them and Ilene would have blamed herself as the cause of it all.

To deal with his grief, Val returns home to the Fens. As this first volume ends, Val overcomes his grief and decides it’s time he lead his father’s people to return and re-conquer Thule, but before they can act on their plan, a major Saxon invasion threatens England. Val returns to Camelot to fight beside the Knights of the Round Table.

In addition to the strip itself, which is in its brightest glorious color because it’s reprinted directly from Foster’s colored plates, there is an essay in the back by Kim Thompson about the reproduction of Prince Valiant and the various plates, which is quite interesting to read, and even mentions a few of the more gruesome scenes in the story that were censored out. The book also contains a biographical essay about Hal Foster and an interesting interview with Foster.

The plot of Prince Valiant is more like a soap opera in terms of its cliffhangers at the end of most strips and its constant continuation with no end in mind. Foster reputedly was usually ahead in creating the strip by several weeks, but one wonders if he ever imagined when it began that the strip could run not only for many years but many decades and encompass all of Prince Valiant’s life basically. He had no need to plot it in a specific direction, yet there are still certain arching points to the story, including the prophecy that Valiant can never know happiness and the basics of the King Arthur story as well.

For people still uncertain whether they would enjoy Prince Valiant, I recommend getting a copy of this first volume and trying it out; then you can determine whether you want to continue to read the successive volumes, which would be quite a time commitment, but there are far worse ways to spend your time than with Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur.

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This month, Hal Foster’s masterful comic strip Prince Valiant: In the Days of King Arthur celebrates its seventy-fifth birthday. Foster’s strip first debuted on February 13, 1937, and it has continued to be a hit with comic strip fans, Arthurian enthusiasts, and students of art and illustration ever since.

For many years, I’ve wanted to read the entire Prince Valiant strip. When I lived in Kalamazoo, the local paper used to carry it on Sunday so I got to read it for a short time, but never consecutively enough to follow the story. I had seen books printed of parts of the strip, but it wasn’t until Christmas that I was able to set out on my quest to read the entire Prince Valiant series. For Christmas I received Volume I of the Prince Valiant strip, covering 1937-1938, and published by Fantagraphics Books. I have every intention of reading the rest of the volumes which are coming out every few months and available at bookstores. I’ll write more about Volume I in a future post. Since it’s Prince Valiant’s 75th anniversary, I’ll blog about it throughout the month.

Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

After 75 years, Prince Valiant still rides!

I first became interested in Prince Valiant when writing King Arthur’s Children back in the 1990s, especially because I came across the statement that Mordred had a daughter in the strip, and I’ve always been fascinated by depictions of Arthur’s descendants. It turns out, however, that Mordred is not Arthur’s son but his half-brother in the strip. Mordred’s daughter Maeve ends up marrying Arn, Prince Valiant’s son, and their daughter Ingrid (born in the 1987 comic strip) has been designated as Arthur’s heir while Mordred has been removed from the line of succession. My guess is that Foster chose to depict Mordred as Arthur’s half-brother to avoid the issue of incest in a comic strip.

Despite this disappointment for me, what little I had read and researched of Prince Valiant kept me fascinated. The first volume of Prince Valiant has an interesting introduction that talks about Hal Foster’s artistic style and his background. I was thrilled to discover that before writing Prince Valiant, Foster had worked on the Tarzan comic strip—Tarzan being one of the few characters in my opinion that ranks up there with King Arthur—so I hope to read Foster’s Tarzan strips as well some day.

Foster’s work is very impressive. You wouldn’t think a comic strip that only came out once a week was an arduous task, but Foster would spend about sixty hours a week working on it. Actually, you realize it had to be a big job to create the strip once you look at the art work. Foster’s drawing is superb, and he adds great detail to every panel of the strip. He also had to take the time to plot out the story, and he was usually 9-12 weeks ahead in creating the strip. He also spent considerable time researching the historical Britain of King Arthur and visiting all the places that he would include in the strip. Then he had to take the plot and break it down into week by week separate “chapters” and then each chapter into a panel or “scene.” Foster was a master at offsetting the visual and written aspects of the strip, and it is well-known that he was revolutionary in removing the balloons for speech. The result is something that is closer to book illustration than comic strip, but it is this superior style that has made Prince Valiant endure all these years.

Foster is also great at creating diverse characters and keeping the story moving in multiple directions as well as reintroducing characters as needed. For example, Valiant travels to Camelot, goes off on adventures, and then returns to Camelot repeatedly which provides relief from the strict King Arthur story.

But after seventy-five years, does the strip still stand up? Yes, it does. I have to admit that I don’t think I could read it weekly and stay interested in it, but that is partly the result of our time period today. Back in the late 1930s, in the years before television was common, and far from the days of the Internet, when movies and radio were the primary forms of entertainment, people may have had a greater attention span and been willing to wait for the fulfillment of the cliffhanger each week. Today, cliffhangers still work with half hour television programs, but a strip that only takes a couple of minutes to read each week is a bit different. However, reading the strip in book form works well. I found myself reading about a year’s worth of strips, fifty-two per year obviously, in about an hour, although I paused to admire the art work numerous times. Furthermore, this new edition is beautifully reproduced, along with essays that describe the reproductions to create brilliant colors, and the price of the books at $29.95 (and selling online for about $10 less) can’t be beat for such large full color pages. Prince Valiant is still a remarkable adventure, and if it has a tendency to wander about like a soap opera rather than have a tight plot, that’s the result of the medium, and given its restraints, Foster knew how to keep it interesting for decades, and his successors continue to do so years after his passing.

Not long after the strip debuted, the Duke of Windsor (King Edward VIII) actually went so far as to say that Prince Valiant was the “greatest contribution to English literature in the past one hundred years.” I don’t know how much of a reader the Duke of Windsor was, but if that were true, it would make Prince Valiant more significant than anything written by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, the Bronte Sisters, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, John Galsworthy, William Butler Yeats, Robert Browning, Alfred, Lord Tennsyon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, J.M. Barrie, and countless other great English authors. High praise indeed!

In any case, Happy Birthday, Prince Valiant! May you continue to ride through Arthur’s England for many years to come!

For more Prince Valiant in all his manifestations from toys and figurines to books, visit www.PrinceValiant.org

________________________

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. is the author of King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition, available at www.ChildrenofArthur.com

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