Prince Valiant, Volume 1: 1937-1938

Overview

Nominated for a 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award: The most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time finally returns in its definitive edition, the first to boast superb testored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster’s original masterpiece.
Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time, Prince Valiant ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster. (Such was its ...

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Overview

Nominated for a 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award: The most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time finally returns in its definitive edition, the first to boast superb testored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster’s original masterpiece.
Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time, Prince Valiant ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster. (Such was its popularity that today, decades after Foster’s death, it continues to run under different hands.)
The giant Sunday-funnies pages (Valiant ran only on Sundays) gave Foster a huge canvas upon which he was able to limn epic swordfights, stunning scenes of pomp and pageantry, and some of the most beautiful human beings—male and female—ever to appear in comics. And he matched his nonpareil visual sense with the narrative instincts of a born storyteller, propelling his daring young hero from one crisis to another with barely a panel to catch one’s breath.Prince Valiant has previously been widely available only in re-colored, somewhat degraded editions (now out of print and fetching collectors’ prices). Thanks to advances in production technology and newly available original proof sheets, this new series from the industry leader in quality strip classics is the first to feature superb restored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster’s original masterpiece. Comic strip aficionados will be ecstatic, and younger readers who enjoy a classic adventure yarn will be bowled over.
Volume One is rounded out with a rare, in-depth classic Foster interview previously available only in a long out-of-print issue of The Comics Journal, as well as an informative Afterword detailing the production and restoration of this edition.
Nominated for a 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award (Best Archival Collection/Project: Strips).

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Editorial Reviews

Vice
This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century…one of the greatest comics of all time…the greatest adventure comic…[Foster’s] drawings are heartbreakingly beautiful. He understands powerful forms and delicate lines…Prince Valiant has been reprinted before, but this book uses his color engraver’s proofs and it’s a world of difference…It’s so beautiful.— Nick Gazin
Mania
There was no comic strip in the 1930s or today that is as visually striking as Prince Valiant with its attention to detail and brilliant narrative. Foster presented a panoramic view of Arthurian times and he laid out his strip in film director fashion, beautifully staging his panels…This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure!— Brian Lumley
Robot 6
It’s much more fluid and enjoyable than I would’ve guessed—beautiful work.— Timothy Hodler
Booklist
Prince Valiant was a comics-page colossus…one of the most celebrated of all comics…the presentation does justice to Foster’s classic creation.— Gordon Flagg
Tripwire
A real thing of beauty…the reproduction is as crystal clear as it can be…[Foster’s] exquisite delicate renderings have influenced so many artists who have come after him and it’s not hard to see why so many people are such huge fans of this master of visual story.— Joel Meadows
Omnicomic
There have been a lot of great comic book releases this year, but none has the beauty and melancholy resonance of Fantagraphics' Prince Valiant: Volume 1-1937-1938.— Mark Rhodes
Comics Comics
Sure I'd read Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in—a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics. — Dan Nadel
Read About Comics
For the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was. The number of fine lines that went into each drawing is impressive, providing a fine texture and grace to every single panel.— Greg McElhatton
Open Letters Monthly
Magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings (indeed, those of us who’ve seen Prince Valiant reprint editions in the past will need some mental time to adjust to how much we’ve been missing).— Steven Donoghue
Philadelphia Inquirer
The release... of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip.— Tirdad Derakhshani
Nick Gazin - Vice
“This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century…one of the greatest comics of all time…the greatest adventure comic…[Foster’s] drawings are heartbreakingly beautiful. He understands powerful forms and delicate lines…Prince Valiant has been reprinted before, but this book uses his color engraver’s proofs and it’s a world of difference…It’s so beautiful.”
Brian Lumley - Mania
“There was no comic strip in the 1930s or today that is as visually striking as Prince Valiant with its attention to detail and brilliant narrative. Foster presented a panoramic view of Arthurian times and he laid out his strip in film director fashion, beautifully staging his panels…This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure!”
Grovel
“This first collection of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant strips has to be seen to be believed—it’s a lovingly crafted, tabloid-sized book with the highest production values. The artwork has been recreated from Foster’s own engraver’s proofs, providing better quality than even the original newspaper run would have got.... a real treat for fans of the original or new readers looking for some classic medieval adventure.”
Chris Mautner - Robot 6
“Who knew that Prince Valiant, a comic strip I always assumed appeared next to the word 'boredom' in the dictionary, was so vibrant, colorful, action-packed and gosh-darned fun?... This new edition ups the ante not just through the fancy hardcover, but via state of the art technology that allows for a pristine detail and rich color that’s about as close to Foster’s initial intentions as we may ever be likely to get... The strip is full of brio and vigor and hits the ground running right from the start... Foster’s fight scenes are sumptuous in detail but economical in execution, with Foster rarely showing a glinting sword unless it’s either about to or already has carved someone in half... In a world where too often most art turns out to be exactly as shallow as first glance suggests, it’s nice to discover that something like Prince Valiant is capable of surprising, and even enthralling, the modern reader.”
Timothy Hodler - Robot 6
“It’s much more fluid and enjoyable than I would’ve guessed—beautiful work.”
Gordon Flagg - Booklist
“Prince Valiant was a comics-page colossus…one of the most celebrated of all comics…the presentation does justice to Foster’s classic creation.”
Joel Meadows - Tripwire
“A real thing of beauty…the reproduction is as crystal clear as it can be…[Foster’s] exquisite delicate renderings have influenced so many artists who have come after him and it’s not hard to see why so many people are such huge fans of this master of visual story.”
Michael C. Lorah - Newsarama
“The strips in Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 are merely the first installment of a massive, groundbreaking, and thoroughly exciting adventure saga that was better than nearly anything during its time, and remains better than nearly anything on the shelves today.”
Mark Rhodes - Omnicomic
“There have been a lot of great comic book releases this year, but none has the beauty and melancholy resonance of Fantagraphics' Prince Valiant: Volume 1-1937-1938.”
Alan Scherstuhl - SF Weekly
“The star of what is arguably the twentieth century's best-drawn newspaper comic strip, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant is all hero, through and through, for his age and ours. The first four volumes of Fantagraphics' collected Prince Valiant reveal young Foster's creation as both the sum total of the heroic ideals that preceded his debut in 1937 as well as a source of serious inspiration for all the heroes that have followed him, in all media formats, in the decades since.”
Guttergeek
“The new Prince Valiant crackles from the page with an energy and enthusiasm that positively dares anyone to deny this strip’s rightful place in the history of the form. Yes, this is another great day for comics history and most definitely a venture worth supporting into the future.”
Dan Nadel - Comics Comics
“Sure I'd read Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in—a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics. ”
Aaron Ragan-Fore - Eugene Weekly
“It’s difficult to laud Foster too excessively; he was one of the undisputed masters of the craft. …a handsome oversize volume... [T]he comic strip’s otherworldly setting and taut characterization keep this an evergreen favorite for readers of all ages, an American epic born of a tale of European romance.”
Tangognat.com
“The art is painstakingly detailed. I was struck by Foster’s expert use of speed lines in the fight scenes—there was one panel where I could see how Val’s foot was sliding sideways and digging into the dirt for balance as he was fending off an enemy.... Fantagraphics’ production quality is stellar as usual.”
Steve Duin - The Oregonian
“The temptation is to shut up and let Hal Foster's panels speak for themselves... Designed by Adam Grano, Prince Valiant 1937-1938 is a beautiful book.”
Christopher Allen - Comic Book Galaxy
“[Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938] is gorgeous. ... Foster is frequently cited as an influence on other great cartoonists, and part of it is his precise line and the way he builds a convincing world from authentic architecture, clothing and armaments. That's part of the appeal, but Foster also excels at staging. ... Unlike daily strip collections, the full, weekly Prince Valiant page ends up a brisk, headlong read... Prince Valiant is something I picked up expecting to admire. I had no idea I would love it.”
Greg McElhatton - Read About Comics
“For the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was. The number of fine lines that went into each drawing is impressive, providing a fine texture and grace to every single panel.”
Brenda Clough - Book View Cafe Blog
“Foster is justly hailed for his stupendous full-pagers, full of panorama and carefully-researched settings.... We moderns are fortunate that superb reprint editions of these classics are readily available.”
Rick Klaw - The Geek Curmudgeon
“Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure of all time, Prince Valiant ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster. The giant Sunday-funnies pages gave Foster a huge canvas upon which he was able to limn epic swordfights, stunning scenes of pomp and pageantry…he matched his nonpareil visual sense with the narrative instincts of a born storyteller, propelling his daring young hero from one crisis to another…Comic strip aficionados will be ecstatic, and younger readers who enjoy a classic adventure yarn will be bowled over.”
Michael Giltz - The Huffington Post
“One of the greatest comic strips of all time and a peak in visual splendor and breath-taking adventure, the story of Prince Valiant's 30+ year odyssey is getting a marvelous presentation in Fantagraphics' series of books... The strip is violent, sexy, serious, droll and above all eye-catching.... It's a worthy presentation for one of the most important and entertaining works in comic strip history.”
Comic Book Resources
“Who knew that Prince Valiant, a comic strip I always assumed appeared nest to the word ‘boredom’ in the dictionary, was so vibrant, colorful, action-packed and gosh-darned fun?...This new edition ups the ante not just through the fancy hardcover, but via state of the art technology that allows for a pristine detail and rich color…In a world where too often most art turns out to be exactly as shallow as first glance suggests, it’s nice to discover that something like Prince Valiant is capable of surprising, and even enthralling, the modern reader.”
Michael Rawdon - Fascination Tangents
“My choice for the greatest comic strip in history would be Hal Foster's epic adventure strip Prince Valiant. And now Fantagraphics is reprinting the series in a series of spiffy, oversized hardcover collections, with the first volume out this week. And even though I own the whole [50-]volume set of the Foster-drawn pages that Fantagraphics published in the 1990s, I’m perfectly happy to buy this new series, with larger pages, better-quality paper, and much better-quality coloring... It’s excellent stuff, and I look forward to enjoying it all over again.”
Steven Donoghue - Open Letters Monthly
“Magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings (indeed, those of us who’ve seen Prince Valiant reprint editions in the past will need some mental time to adjust to how much we’ve been missing).”
Tirdad Derakhshani - Philadelphia Inquirer
“The release... of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip.”
Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales
“I'm really looking forward to the hardcover of Prince Valiant as the online [preview] shows this to be the best reproduction I have ever seen of the book.The Hal Foster years (especially for the first decade or more) are a great story and stunning artwork.”
Publishers Weekly
Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever. The story takes young Prince Valiant, exiled heir to the conquered kingdom of Thule, from a witch's evil prophecy to adventure at the court of King Arthur, with stops for heroic rescues, conniving foes, beautiful maidens, Viking invasions and even a broken heart or two. Narrated in captions rather than told in speech balloons, Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valliant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement. Bonus material includes an interview with Foster and an afterword by editor Kim Thompson for context. (Aug.)
The Barnes & Noble Review
Since its demise, the Golden Age of newspaper comic strips has never been more accessible than now. Lovers of this four-color medium during its classical period have recently been treated to encyclopedic and scholarly compilations centering on Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Popeye, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, and Gasoline Alley, among others. Now these magnificent series are joined by what is arguably the apex of the art, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. Previous assemblages of Valiant being out of print, Fantagraphics, a leader in the field, has stepped forward with gloriously restored art reproduced in generous dimensions and abetted by the essays of experts.

This initial volume, collecting the first two years' worth of strips from the nearly 40-year span of Foster's involvement in the single-page, Sundays-only offering, demonstrates just why Valiant continues to burn so brightly. Foster's realistic yet romantic art is astonishingly alluring. Interior domestic scenes alternate with gorgeous, panoramic landscapes and architecture. His vast range of people possess a loose-limbed naturalness and kinetic exuberance. Horses and other animals exhibit the grace of each species. And not only is each panel a small masterpiece, but Foster's compositional sense on each page conveys excitement. One week, a page is given over merely to four equal panels (week of 8-14-37). Another week, three skinny columns of art make a triptych (week of 10-9-37). Moreover, in cinematic fashion, long shots alternate entertainingly with close-ups. This latter distinction brings us naturally to Foster's storytelling abilities, the other half of his grand achievement. His ability to portray vivid characters in swift, simple strokes is matched only by his clever plotting. Weekly episodes encouraged compression: for instance, Valiant ages a year between one panel and another (week of 4-24-37). On the other hand, Foster knew when to relax the pace, as when he devotes two entire weeks to Valiant capturing and taming a horse (5-15-37 and 5-22-37). His balance of naturalism and fantasy is a key to his success as well. Simultaneously nostalgic and eternal, Hal Foster's populist masterwork deserves this accessible enshrinement. --Paul DiFilippo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606991411
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 8/18/2009
  • Series: Prince Valiant Series , #1
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 489,600
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 14.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Hal Foster (1892-1982) created Prince Valiant in 1937. Though remaining involved with the strip until his death in 1982, Foster handed the bulk of the scripting and art chores over to his longtime assistant, John Cullen Murphy, in 1971.

Brian M. Kane is the author of Hal Foster: Prince of Illustrators and James Bama: American Realist. He teaches in the Illustration Department at the Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio. He has a Masters Degree in History of Art from The Ohio State University where he is currently working on his Ph.D. in Art Education with an emphasis in Visual Culture.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    It's Prince Valiant!!

    If you are a fan then you will want this. If you know someone who will enjoy this like a pre-teen or teenager then give it as a gift I feel in love with the strip over 25 years ago as a young boy, I still enjoy re-reading this story.

    TS

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