Monday, February 13, 2012

75 Years of Adventure

Long-time readers know of my appreciation for the Sunday comic strip Prince Valiant. This past Sunday there was an unusual panel that was more than just another box that furthered the story.  (click on image to enlarge)

In a contemplative mood, Prince Valiant thinks back over all the people he's known in his life -- which the panel depicts. Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of the strip, and that panel commemorated the event. In the center are Val and Aleta, surrounded by their family and friends. But not quite as they are in the current continuity.

Karen and Valeta, (Val's twin girls) are in their early twenties. In this strip they're shown as young children. Their youngest son Nathan is shown as a toddler (he's a pre-teen at this point). Arn, the oldest son, and Galan, second oldest are shown about the right ages compared to each other, but decided younger than they are now.

In the back are a number of important characters. Some, such as Sir Gawain are currently in the storyline. Others, such as Tristam and Gundar Harl from adventures long past. Makeda (in the upper left) is from Valiant's adventure in Africa with King Solomon's Mines. Steadying Nathan is the wife of Gundar Harl's (he's also in the picture) -- who he met when Valiant and Aleta ended up in North America, where Arn was born.

And the supporting cast from Camelot is there -- King Arthur and Merlin, along with Valiant's father King Aguar of Thule, and many others. But what makes this special is the homage by the current creative team to those that have gone before. Coming in from right is the originator of the strip, Hal Foster who wrote and drew the strip from its inception in 1937 until his retirement in 1970. Just to the left of Merlin is John Cullen Murphy, who took over the drawing of the strip 1970. In 2004 the current team of artist Gary Gianni and writer Mark Schultz took over.

It's one of those little touches I appreciate. Gianni and Schultz's tribute to Foster and Murphy was subtle, but much appreciated by fans of the strip. I grew up reading Prince Valiant, and for over 40 years it's been a Sunday treat. Here's to the next 75 years of adventure!

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