Prince Valiant, one of the finest works ever to be produced in
the comic art medium, was the creation of artist Harold R. Foster (b.
August 16, 1892, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. July 25, 1982, Spring Hill,
Florida). Foster, often called Hal, was a man with little formal
education besides art school. He reportedly led an adventurous early
life, began a commercial art career in Winnepeg, Manitoba in 1910, and
moved to Chicago in 1921 to get more art training at the Art Institute
of Chicago and Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. After several years as a
successful commercial artist and serious painter, Foster entered the
newspaper illustration field in 1929 because of the lack of
advertising work during the Depression. It is said that he did not
take syndicated cartooning seriously until 1931, when his first
feature, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, became popular and elicited
much fan mail. Realizing the pleasure his work gave to the public,
Foster began to work more painstakingly and made the Tarzan page an
artistic as well as commercial success. In order to reach his full
artistic potential, Foster needed an outlet of greater scope, and in
1937, the 44 year old artist left United Features Syndicate and Tarzan
to work for King Features on his own epic creation, Prince Valiant in
the Days of King Arthur.
In Prince Valiant, Foster gives us the beautifully illustrated
story of a believable, admirable young man who grows up in an
exciting, exotic environment and becomes involved in many of the major
events of medieval history and legend. The culture of the early
Vikings and Britons comes alive amidst the grandeur of Arthurian
As a work of comic art, Prince Valiant stands high and alone
because of its high quality and distinctive format. Foster was nearly
as good a writer as he was an illustrator, making Prince Valiant a
total work of art in both its literary and visual components -- a very
rare feat for comics. However, it must be understood that Prince
Valiant is not exactly a normal comic strip in the usual sense of the
term, because word balloons are never used, and the words and pictures
are not truly combined to work equally and synergistically to tell the
stories. Foster's text was generally his major storytelling tool,
with drawings serving mainly as beautiful embellishments. We can
therefore almost consider Prince Valiant to be a massive illustrated
novel presented in a comic art - like style.
For over forty years, Prince Valiant grew up before our eyes, met
many fascinating friends and enemies, lived through exciting
adventures all over the world, married, and raised a lovely family
which is still growing. In this publication we summarize the major
events in the lives of "Val" and his compatriots and family and point
out important facts in the development of the strip, as well as
placing the stories in historical perspective. We hope that this
"index" will serve not only as an important reference tool and
monument to Foster's genius, but will also capture some of the
excitement, charm and verisimilitude of the story of Prince Valiant.
The stories illustrated in the Prince Valiant pages were said at
times to have been derived from an (imaginary) set of "Chronicles"
preserved from the middle ages. The historical background of these
ancient times are quite interesting and need to be discussed at the
outset in order to place the stories in context. In the Prince
Valiant strip, historical events are actually generally described
relatively accurately but are quite intentionally rearranged or moved
to fit the time scheme of the stories. Foster, as we will see, set
his stories in the middle of the 5th century, one of the most colorful
and eventful eras of early European history. At this time, the Roman
Empire had begun to dissolve and had abandoned the British Isles.
England then began to suffer many attacks from the Saxons (Germanic
tribes from Eastern Europe) and the Picts (early inhabitants of
The beginnings of Arthurian mythology seem to lie in that period,
in the tales told by the early bards of Britain and Wales during the
Saxon invasions (5th-6th centuries A.D.). These tales may have been
based partly on the exploits of a real Celtic tribal chief who helped
the ancient Britons hold out against the invaders, but also are
similar to characters and situations from early Celtic mythology.
(The term "Celtic" refers to an iron age European tribal group and to
the language and peoples descended from them, chiefly in Brittany,
Wales, western Ireland, and the Scottish higlands). Such heroic
legends, enriched further by tales from the continent (chiefly
France), developed into the classical Arthurian romances of the 12th
to 15th centuries. Geoffrey of Monmouth's pseudo-historical Historia
Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain, 1136) and Sir
Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur (ca. 1470, from French sources) are the
classic early English versions. Modern readers might be more familiar
with such works as Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King (1842-1885),
Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), Terence
Hanbury White's The Once and Future King (1939-1958), and of course
the numerous plays and movies based on these books. An interesting
review and sampling of Arthurian history and literature may be found
in The Arthurian Legends: An Illustrated Anthology by Richard Barber
(Littlfield & Adams, 1979; Dorset Press, 1985).
Among the most well-known and important Arthurian myths are the
Quest for the Holy Grail (probably derived from a Celtic myth of a
magic cauldron which the gods fought over and grafted into the
Christian tale of Jesus' cup from the Last Supper), the romance of Sir
Tristram and Queen Isolde, and the romance of Launcelot and Guinevere.
Perhaps surprisingly, these tales are all mentioned but briefly in the
Prince Valiant series. The Wizard Merlin Ambroseus, another famous
Arthurian character who may have been based on a real Welsh bard who
was in the service of Kings Uther and Arthur during the Saxon
invasions, does feature prominently in several Prince Valiant stories.
Finally, it should be noted that although Foster included many
myths and historical events and allusions not from the 5th century in
the Prince Valiant stories, all of British mythology is historically
dubious, so that Foster's slight rearrangements of history and legend
are not inappropriate or without precedent. For example, "knights"
actually existed in England only from about 1066 to 1300 (though the
honorary title of course still exists), and the code of chivalry also
did not really develop until about the 12th century. In fact, the
entire "Golden Age", romantic outlook of Arthurian mythology is sheer
fantasy -- an obvious example of writers attributing their own
contemporary attitudes and ideals to previous cultures which may have
actually been quite barbaric. Foster merely added his own
anachronistic elements; indeed, he always was said to have proudly
claimed that he had condensed many centuries of European history into
Val's brief lifetime. It certainly makes interesting reading for us!
Note: Prince Valiant is actually a massive, continuous
illustrated novel. Most of the stories blend into one another
smoothly; divisions are made herein, at times somewhat arbitrarily,
for descriptive convenience. Parts of story synopses enclosed in
parentheses or divided into several parts are brief interludes or
"sub-stories" embedded within the context of larger, longer stories.
The story titles, divisions, and synopses are original to this index
but drawn from Foster's captions where possible.
PRINCE VALIANT STORY INDEX
Story 1) Pages #1(13 Feb 1937) - #4(6 Mar 1937) Into the Fens
King Aguar of Thule and his family are driven from their homeland of
Thule and forced to settle in the Great Fens of Britain. Young Prince
Valiant (shown only as a small boy in pages #2-4 and not assuming the
leading role until page #3) begins his career of adventure as he grows
up in the rugged swamplands.
2) #4(6 Mar 37) - 11 (24 Apr 37) The Prophecy
The main storyline begins as Prince Valiant (first nicknamed "Val" in
page 4) investigates the source of a mysterious light far out in the
swamplands and encounters Horrit, the witch, and her son Thorg. The
witch, who is introduced in page 9 and reappears many times in
subsequent years, foresees a future of "high adventure, but nowhere
contentment," for the young teenager (who will be haunted by this
prophecy for much of his life). She also predicts great sorrow, and
Val returns home to find that his mother has died.
3) #11(24 Apr 37) - 15(22 May 37) The Home-made Knight
Val leaves the great marshes to seek adventure and fulfill Horrit's
prophecy. An encounter with Sir Launcelot, the greatest knight in
Christendom, inflames Val with the desire to become a knight. The
pauper prince begins by capturing and training a wild horse.
4) #16(29 May 37) - 20(26 June 37) The Trial of Sir Negarth
Wandering inland, Val meets Sir Gawain, a famous knight of the Round
Table who is to become his lifelong friend. The young prince learns
about knighthood and helps Gawain capture Sir Negarth, a robber knight.
On the road to Camelot, where Negarth is to be judged by King Arthur,
Val and Gawain slay a great sea dragon that had unhorsed Gawain. Val
visits the marvelous city of Camelot and meets King Arthur, Queen
Giunevere, and Merlin Ambroseus for the first time (page 19). At the
trial, Val convinces the King to pardon Sir Negarth because he had
helped save Gawain.
5) #21(3 Jul 37) - 22(10 Jul 37) From Throne Room to Dungeon
Just as Horrit had prophesized, Val meets the King and Queen and
becomes Sir Gawain's squire at their suggestion. The hot-headed youth
gets into a fight with other squires and is thrown into a cell. A
battle with the Northmen breaks out, but heartbroken Val is forbidden
to participate due to his apparent lack of self-control.
6) #23(17 Jul 37) - 38(30 Oct 37) The Fake Quest
Sir Osmond and Baron Baldon, two officers of the palace guard, pick
Gawain as the victim of a ransom plot. They decoy him and Val into
accepting a false quest: the restoration of eeriwold Castle, which is
held by a "terrible ogre," to the Lady Morvyn. Gawain is captured in
an ambush and taken to another hidden castle, but Val escapes.
Disguised, the Prince enters the castle, discovers the plot, and helps
Gawain escape. Val and the wounded Gawain return to Camelot. King
Arthur interrupts the Tournament of the Queen's Diamonds to lead his
knights to punish the kidnappers.
7) #39(6 Nov 37) - 55(26 Feb 38) The Maid Ilene
Sir Gawain and his squire ride at adventure to rescue the parents of
the maid Ilene from imprisonment in their own castle by an outlaw band.
Val falls in love with the slim, pretty blonde (Val's first love is
introduced in page #38). The quest is interrupted by a battle with an
evil red knight, whereby Gawain is wounded and is left to recover at a
nearby house of an old hermit. Alone, Val disguises himself as a
demon, sneaks into the captured castle, and frightens the Ogre of
Sinster Wood and his followers. The superstitious ogre dies of sheer
terror, and Val soon clears out the remaining outlaws. Ilene's father,
the Thane of Branwyn, is liberated. As a reward for his service, Val
asks for Ilene's hand in marriage, but the Thane informs him that Ilene
has already been promised to Arn, Prince of Ord. Val vows to fight for
8) #55(26 Feb 38) - 64(30 Apr 38) The Sorceress
Gawain is carried off from the hermitage by the evil half sister of
Arthur, the sorceress Morgan Le Fay (this recurring nemesis is
introduced in page #56). When Val rides to Morgan's castle, "Dolorous
Garde", to confront the witch, he is given drugged wine and put into a
cell. After weeks of horror, Val escapes and runs to Camelot, seeking
the advice of Merlin, the wizard, advisor to the King. Merlin's magic
spell forces the sorceress to release Gawain.
9) #64(30 Apr 38) - 85(25 Sep 38) Ilene Abducted
Val returns to Camelot with Gawain and is shocked to hear of the
impending marriage of Ilene to Prince Arn of Ord. The heartbroken boy
leaves for Ord to fight for the hand of Ilene. When Val encounters his
rival (Arn is introduced in page 67), their conflict is interrupted by
news that Ilene was kidnapped by Viking raiders while on her way to
Ord. The princes forget their quarrel and ride to rescue her. They
are stopped by some of the Vikings. Armed with Arn's charmed `Singing
Sword', Val stands alone on the bridge at Dundorn Glen to delay pursuit
while Arn rides on to free their beloved. Val battles valiantly (of
course) but is captured and becomes a prisoner along with Ilene. Arn
follows the Vikings with an armed ship. When Arn and his knights catch
up, they win the ensuing battle, but Thagnar, the rover chief, escapes
with Ilene during a storm. Val and Arn leave their ship to seek Ilene
on foot. They are horrified to learn that she and Thagnar have been
killed in a shipwreck! Dejected, the two weary, heartbroken princes
return to Camelot. Arn gives Val his `Singing Sword' (in page 85) to
be used in King Arthur's service and returns to his home at Ord (he is
seen again 10 years later; see story 37).
Comment: Cutout "stamps" picturing the main characters were an added
feature on the corner of the strip logo starting with page 83 and
ending with #329.
10) #86(2 Oct 38)-103(29 Jan 39) The Saxon Invasion of Britain
Val craves knighthood and fellowship at the Round Table, but Arthur
says he is too young. In order to impress the King, Val enters the
Great Tournament. Embarrassed when he loses a joust with Sir Tristram,
one of England's greatest knights, Val leaves Camelot and returns after
two long years to his old home in the mysterious Fens. Val again sees
his father, the exiled King of Thule, who now has only a small swampy
island and a few faithful warriors. Val secretly plans to help Aguar
regain his lost kingdom but is interrupted when he learns of a pending
Saxon invasion of England -- the tenth and greatest. Val rides to
Camelot to warn Arthur and helps the King's Council of War develop
battle plans. With but 10,000 men, Britain faces an army of 20,000
Saxon warriors in the Fens. Using flames, smoke, and arrows, Val
drives the invaders directly into the hands of the King's men. Amid
the wreckage of the battlefield, Arthur makes the resourceful Prince
Valiant a Knight of the Round Table (in page 103).
11) #104(5 Feb. 39) - 107(26 Feb 39) The Bargain
Val's proud father, King Aguar, recruits King Arthur's aid in
recapturing Thule and sets sail from Britain. The oppressed people of
Thule (apparently the site of modern Norway) rally to support their
exiled King. A battle is not necessary, for the old, sick tyrant King
Sligon has tired of his difficult life and trades back the kingdom of
Thule for the tiny, peaceful island in the quiet English swamps. Aguar
quickly reorganizes his government.
12) #107(26 Feb 39) - 111(26 Mar 39) Claris
When Sligon said he wanted peace (story 11), he was so sincere that he
left his wife and daughter behind. Little Claris schemes to become the
bride of Prince Valiant and future Queen of Thule, but accidentally
falls in love with a man named Alfred. Lonely Val asks Claris to marry
him but lightheartedly gives her up when he realizes she loves Alfred.
13) #112(2 Apr 39) - 117(7 May 39) The Cave of Time
Bored with his peaceful new home of Thule, Val rides from his father's
castle in search of adventure. He takes refuge from a storm in what he
believes is an empty cave and is startled to find a beautiful witch
woman who gives him a potent drink. Going deeper into the cave, Val
wrestles with an old man who is a personification of Time, and the
young Prince suddenly is turned into an old man. The witch woman
restores his youth and Val rides away in a fit of terror.
14) #118(14 May 39)-127(16 Jul 39) Andelkrag, the Unconquerable
Val learns that Rome has fallen to Attila the Hun. All Europe has been
burned and pillaged by the Huns, and only the city of Andelkrag still
stands. Val slips through the besieging Huns and joins the gallant
defenders of the city. For months the fierce might of Attila persists,
and the walls of Andelkrag finally crumble just as the food and drink
runs out. As death approaches, the women commit suicide and the men
march out from their burning fortress to meet their fate as brave
warriors. One battered survivor -- Prince Valiant -- leaves the
smoldering ruins when the fighting ends.
15) #128 (23 Jul 39) - 169(5 May 40) The Legion of Hun-Hunters
For years the Huns have pillaged Europe unhindered, and now Val decides
to recruit a large band of soldiers, knights, refugees, and bandits
united by a common hatred of the Huns. A series of daring raids on the
barbarians takes place. ("Pandaris," #140-152: Val and an impudent
thief named Slith travel to the walled city of Pandaris when they learn
that the treacherous false Duke Piscaro is letting Huns pass through
the city in order to attack Val's Hun-hunters from the rear. Val and
the real Duke, Cesario, restore the city to freedom from tyranny and
from the influence of the Huns.) Val and his aides next seek a plan
whereby their army of 7,000 can halt the 20,000 Huns sent to clear and
important pass and open the way for further onslaught of Europe. Using
a daring strategy based on the story of the Trojan Horse, Val's band
slips into the Huns' base and takes over, leaving the Huns without food
in the barren mountains. Val's army soon meets the Huns on an open
field and defeats them. Finally, Val has shown the world that the Huns
are not invincible, and they become nothing more than petty raiders.
("Girl Trouble," #159-168: After the battle, Val carries home a wounded
soldier, Hulta, who turns out to be a beautiful woman in disguise.
Slith falls in love with Hulta, who is soon installed as the new ruler
of the conquered lands, and the two decide to marry.) Val declines
suggestions that he lead a war of extermination against the hated Huns,
explaining that he pledges his sword only in the cause of justice and
freedom, and wars of aggression would be but breeders of future wars.
Finally, after a banquet in honor of the marriage of Slith and Hulta,
the hour of parting comes.
Comment: The Huns were a real warlike tribe from the East that invaded
Europe in the AD 300's and 400's. Their invasion attempt was halted in
451 in France at the Battle of Chalms-Sur-Marie. They attacked Italy
(as in story 14) in AD 452 and then were totally overthrown after the
death of Attila in AD 453.
16) #169(5 May 40) - 187(8 Sep 40) The Road to Rome
Val, Gawain, and Tristram, who fought side by side against the Huns,
cannot bear to part and decide to take a trip to Rome together. They
stop for a night at a tavern where three gamblers, masquerading as
noblemen, entice Gawain into a dice game and fleece him. ("The Giant,"
#172-178: Some idle time on his hands, Val undertakes a quest to rid
the countryside of a troublesome giant who has for years demanded
tribute of slaves and supplies from the villages, but our hero is
surprised when he learns that the giant has secretly organized a refuge
for freaks and outcasts.) The knights resume their journey down the
road to Rome, which leads down from the snowy Alps to the marshy plains
bordering the Adriatic Sea. On the way, the comrades help a small
local tribe establish a city (later to be known as Venice!) far out in
the sea, away from a menacing band of Huns. As the leisurely journey
continues, the three fellows of the Round Table encounter much ruin and
decay, for the Empire is crumbling. Near Ravenna, Val helps an
Oriental jewel merchant recover some stolen gems. As a reward, the
merchant gives Val a charmed necklace, whose wearer supposedly can
never be bound by chains. Tristram, Val, and Gawain finally arrive at
Rome, riding beside Flavius Aetius, last of the great Roman generals.
Comment: The approximate dating of Val's saga is explicitly indicated
in this story for the first time, when page 183 mentions that the fall
of the Roman Empire at Ravenna (which occurred in AD 476), will be
about 20 years later. This and the depiction of the fall of the Huns
in the previous stories places these adventures in the 450's AD (see
17) #188(15 Sep 40) - 199(1 Dec 40) Valentinian's Justice
While Val, Gawain, and Tristram sightsee and galavant, intrigue,
jealousy and treachery bring ruin to the Roman Empire. Emperor
Valentinian III, jealous of General Aetius' popularity and
achievements, sends his assassins out after Aetius, caring nothing for
the fate of his empire. The last of the great Roman generals thus
falls, and with him the last hope of the Empire. Sirs Tristram and
Valiant are witnesses to the sordid deed and are promptly arrested by
the emperor's private assassins, accused of the murder, and imprisoned.
Gawain, who has been busy seducing Roman ladies, is also arrested.
Just as the evil Emperor is about to put his prisoners to death, the
friends of Aetius rebel and permanently put an end to their Emperor's
misdeeds. When the three knights see the Emperor fall, they leave Rome
immediately, knowing they might be blamed for the killing. Pursuit
comes swiftly, but the pampered Roman guardsmen quickly find that they
are no match for these turbulent sons of storm and hardship. The three
friends part, for their only chance is to try to escape singly.
Tristram chooses to ride North, back past Rome, and follows his heart
back to fair Isolde in England (see story 28). Gawain rides westward
toward the sea and sails to Marseiiles. Val rides South on the Appian
way towards Naples and escapes from the Roman soldiers by hiding in the
crater of Mount Vesuvius.
Comment: In this tale, Foster, rather than relying on superficial,
sweeping overviews of events, shows cleverly how individual
idiosyncracies and relationships can determine the course of history.
This story is based on true historical events -- the murders of General
Flavius Aetius in AD 454 and Emperor Valentinian III in AD 455, though
Foster places it several years before the plunder of Rome by the
Vandals (story 30), which actually happened in 455 also (see
18) #199(1 Dec 40) - 246(26 Oct 41) Fights for the Singing Sword
At Naples, Val finds a ship bound for Sicily and pays his way aboard,
hoping to return to the North. A terrible storm drives the ship past
dread Scylla and Charybdis and the burning Mountain of Etna, but the
Captain guides the ship safely into a nearby bay. There, Angor Wrack,
the Sea King, sends his warriors to obtain slaves, and they return with
Prince Valiant, many wounds, and the `Singing Sword'. Val is chained
among the hopeless galley slaves. Using the sharp edges of the charmed
necklace of the Oriental jewel merchant (story 16), Val cuts through
his chains and escapes from the pirate ship in a small lifeboat. After
days of drifting upon unknown seas, Val awakens from exhausted sleep to
see, bending over him, a beautiful, smiling, long-haired blonde girl
whose loveliness he will never forget. Then he sleeps again, and upon
awakening he finds himself again drifting on a lonely sea, but now the
boat is loaded with provisions. An explanatory note is signed by
"Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles." Val suddenly decides that from now
on, instead of wandering around the world in search of adventure, he
will dedicate his life to finding the mysterious Queen whom he saw only
in a dream. The search ends abruptly when Val is taken hostage by King
Lamorack of Tambelaine. ("Sombelene and Melody," #212-223: Enchanted
by the beauty of Lamorack's two daughters, Sombelene and Melody, Val
temporarily forgets his search for Aleta and idles away the days with
the two princesses. When the evil Angor Wrack comes to wed the
Princess Melody, Val seeks to settle old scores. First, he contrives
the elopement of Melody and a young fisherman named Hector and then,
with youthful overconfidence, tries to regain the `Singing Sword' by
force. He fails, and an angry King Lamorack sentences him to death.
Armed only with a knife, Val is thrown into a pit where a hungry
monster lives. After escaping and swimming far out to sea, Val is
picked up by a fishing boat and learns from the sailors that his enemy
Angor Wrack had married Sombelene (who had admired Wrack's ruthless
masculinity) and sailed on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.) Val forces the
fishermen to sail in pursuit of Wrack and the `Singing Sword'. After a
long trip, Val reaches Jerusalem, where he meets Princess Sombelene,
now the wife of his enemy, and she convinces him to try to regain the
sword without killing her pirate husband. Far out in the desert, Val
finds his enemy. As the men fight, an angry group of Arab slave
dealers, whom Val had previously encountered, take both Val and Wrack
prisoner and steal the `Singing Sword'. Again Val uses his sharp-edged
charmed necklace to help him and Wrack get loose. The two stealthily
steal back their stolen swords and escape. Angor Wrack begrudgingly
allows Val to hold on to the `Singing Sword' temporarily. When the
angry Arabs follow and attack, Wrack is injured and Val is captured.
Wrack is taken back to Damascus by his wife, who was following. The
sword is once again taken away from Val, and he is sold into slavery.
Belshad Abu, a pompous Syrian merchant, buys both Val and the sword.
Pretending to make love to his master's daughter, Val slips into the
harem and tricks the girl into getting the sword back and taking him
away. They ride through the desert, where Val gains some armor and
freedom and deserts the confused girl. ("Belsatan's Magic," #238-242:
Val speeds westward along the Euphrates, enjoying his newfound freedom.
He meets Belsatan, a supposedly evil djinn, who is actually an
eccentric, jovial magus. Belsatan tries to use Val in a scheme to get
rid of his pretty but nagging wife, but the wizard soon becomes lonely
and summons his wife back.) Val is finally able to resume his
difficult search for Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles, but first he has
some unfinished business with Angor Wrack. The disputed ownership of
the `Singing Sword' is finally settled when the white-haired pirate
agrees to let the troublesome lad keep the sword permanently. The
quarrel behind them, Val and Wrack become friends. Val rests at
Wrack's house in Jerusalem and celebrates his 18th birthday with
Sombelene and her pirate husband.
Comment: Val has had quite an excitement-filled life for a boy of only
18! Extrapolation from story 30 (which is taken as a reference point,
455 AD (see chronology)) places this story in roughly 451 AD, so Val
was apparently born in approximately 433 AD. This very long adventure
was a turning point in Val's career because of the introduction (in
page 208) of Aleta, a woman whom Val was never to forget. Foster
claimed to have used his wife Helen as the model for Aleta! The
historical authenticity of the Jerusalem episodes (especially pages
224-225) is noteworthy; Foster dots the landscape with accurate
drawings of the Holy City and its famous religious landmarks. By this
time, Foster's artwork was finally beginning to reach its polished
maturity; the drawings were somewhat cruder in the first few years of
the strip, as in the earlier Tarzan pages.
19) #246(26 Oct 41) - 253(14 Dec 41) The Misty Isles
Angor Wrack fits Val with a small ship, and Val resumes his quest by
sailing for the Aegean sea (which is apparently where Foster conceives
of Aleta's home as being located). On the way, the Prince tries to
lead his crew against several bands of fierce Corsairs. The frightened
sailors maroon Val on an island and sneak off, but the wind blows them
back again. Val reboards, not knowing that while the rascals were away
they had stumbled upon and plundered a helpless village in the Misty
Isles. A storm damages the ship and again blows it back to the Misty
Isles, where the vengeful villagers kill the crew. The horrified young
Prince does not realize how richly his men had earned their punishment
and thinks the islanders to be violent and evil. He at last meets
Aleta and, thinking she must be a cruel Queen, denounces her and runs
away, his romantic dreams shattered. Fleeing with misguided fear, Val
stumbles upon a well-stocked boat, which he does not know has been
planted by Aleta. He is surprised to find another cryptic note from
the lovely young Queen. Val sails away from what he thinks is a cruel
place, and this time he has no wild desire to return. Aleta secretly
weeps at the strange boy's departure.
20) #253(14 Dec 41) - 289(23 Aug 42) Homeward Bound
Val's romantic dreams have turned to bitterness, and he feels a great
longing for his windy, northern home. In the boat provided by Aleta,
Val sails into the busy port of Athens. There, he meets a tall, fat,
boisterous, red-haired Viking named Boltar (introduced in #253, he
became Val's lifelong friend.) The two reminisce about their homeland,
and Val decides to sail with Boltar and his pirate crew towards distant
Thule. ("Rumors of Gold," #256-263: The ship sails westward on the
Mediterranean. Val is annoyed when Boltar's crew takes a detour
southward in search of treasure. They follow the African coastline
south. Boltar glides his ship up a jungle river toward the location
indicated on a treasure map. The search is canceled when Val and his
men run into huge, monstrous African animals that fill them with
terror. The Vikings quickly sail out of the jungle and resume their
northward journey.) After a month of traveling, the pirates stop at a
seaport in Gaul for supplies and repairs. There Val learns that Sir
Gawain is being held prisoner in a nearby castle by Guy Haakon. Val
gives all his hard-earned store of gold to ransom his old friend, but
the treacherous Haakon sends his horsemen out to recapture them. The
two knights are unable to reach Boltar's ship before it leaves the
port, but they are pleased to find that Boltar had laid waste to
Haakon's castle before going. Penniless and afoot, the two knights
encounter Dame Gilbert, and glib Gawain so pleases her that she invites
them home and gets them horses. ("The Siege," #269-275: Soon after
leaving the Gilberts, Gawain and Val accept an invitation from the fat,
jovial Sir Hubert, who wants the knights to aid him against assaults by
his enemy, Hugh D'Archy. Hugh's nephew, Raoul D'Arcy, loses his heart
to Hubert's young daughter, Clair, sneaks into his enemy's castle, and
is captured by Prince Valiant. When D'Arcy's forces ram their way into
the castle, they become trapped in a cul-de-sac and are killed by
falling debris. Although Hubert has won the battle, he loses both the
D'Arch castle and his daughter to Raoul. Val and Gawain stay for the
wedding and a week of enjoyable boar hunting before they must leave.)
Our heroes pass by a humorous battle between two inept, aged knights
("The Battle of the Behemoths," #275-277). ("The Curse of the
Blacktower", #277-287: Lady Anne of Gaiforte seeks aid in finding her
missing husband, Robert. Prince Valiant and Sir Gawain go to search
the haunted ruins of ill-famed Blacktower, stronghold of Gaiforte's
long-dead enemies. There they find that the missing Thane is a
prisoner, but they, too, are trapped by a strange madwoman, who tries
to set fire to the Blacktower. The knights escape from their cell and
rescue sick Robert just before the evil tower crumbles.) After
returning Robert to his wife and restoring the friendship of Robert and
his former enemy Givric, Val and Gawain begin the long northward
journey across Brittany towards Camelot. When they reach the English
Channel, they encounter Boltar, who is embroiled in trouble with Sir
Launcelot. Launcelot happily greets his fellow knights and has Boltar
sail them to England. After three turbulent years of adventuring
across the world (actually 3 1/2 years in real time; since story 10),
Prince Valiant comes once again to Camelot.
Comment: This large story is one of the first uses of a plot device
which Foster was to use (and perhaps overuse) many times again: Val
makes a long journey and encounters adventure, intrigue, and/or romance
at each of many stops and detours along the way.
21) #290(30 Aug 42) - 311(24 Jan 43) The Roman Wall
Val's joyous reunion with his friends at Camelot is cut short by
tidings of war. Britain's security is threatened by an alliance of
Picts and Vikings. King Arthur sends Sir Valiant to examine the old
"Roman Wall," to see if it can again be used to defend the northern
borders of the realm. Alone in the wintry countryside, Val searches
for and finds the long wall, which was built from sea to sea by Hadrian
to hold back the wild Picts of Scotland and which was abandoned when
the Romans left Britain (in A.D. 412) to defend their own capital
against the Barbarians. Julian, grandson of a Roman centurion left
behind to guard the wall, helps Val with his investigation. Val passes
the wall, enters Scotland, and finds the reported Viking invasion base.
The Vikings discover the spy and question him under torture. Gawain,
who had lazily remained behind, catches up and recklessly rescues what
the cruel Northmen had left of his young friend. When Arthur learns of
Val's mistreatment, he angrily leads his warriors northward. Soon, the
armies of King Arthur and Horsa the Viking, face each other near the
Roman Wall, neither side daring to initiate an assault. Thundaar,
champion of the Vikings, challenges the best of Arthur's knights to
single combat. After the brute kills an inexperienced young knight,
Val angrily steps forth and defeats the strong but clumsy Viking. Val
then leads a troop of reckless young horsemen against the Viking supply
lines, taking vast quantities of stores, which Val lets fall into the
hands of the Picts. When the hungry Vikings find the Picts eating
their food, they fall upon their allies. The powerful alliance breaks
down, thanks to Val's strategy, and Arthur's army is able to stand by
lazily as the enemies of Britain slay each other.
Comment: The Romans ruled Britain from AD 43 to ca.400, and Hadrian's
Wall was built in the AD 120's. The wall was intended to protect
England from Scottish warriors, and it still stands between Carlisle
22) #311(24 Jan 43) - 317(7 Mar 43) Merlin Solves a Problem
Visions of Aleta haunt Val's every movement, and he journeys to his
boyhood home, the fens, to find out if this part of Horrit's prophecy
is true. Deep in the swamps Val asks the old witch for a spell to help
him forget the bewitching young queen, but all he gets is the same old
prophecy of adventure, wealth, turmoil and discontent. Heartsick, he
seeks the advice of Merlin Ambroseus. The wise old man makes Val
realize that he really already has anything a young man could want:
adventure, a noble cause to fight for, good friends and splendid
enemies, travel, and a maiden to love. There is no such thing as
complete contentment, Merlin explains. Confused, Val returns to
23) #318(14 Mar 43) - 350(24 Oct 43) The Long Voyage to Thule
Homesick, Val asks King Arthur for a leave of absence, says goodbye to
his friends, and begins the long trip to visit his father, the King of
Thule. A variety of brief adventures ensues. One evening, a crafty
hermit offers hospitality to Prince Valiant and Beric, his squire, but
tries to murder Val for his money. Val promptly hangs the miscreant
and soon after deals with his outlaw companions. When the two stop to
fix Beric's saddle girth, Val makes use of the time by befriending a
young crippled boy, giving him a three-legged dog and encouragement to
manufacture arrows for the King. At London, Val books passage on a
large ship heading towards Scandia (Sweden) and then rescues Lady Olga
and her daughter Katwein from a band of kidnappers. The two women are
also bound for Sweden, and Val sneaks them aboard his ship. When the
"Poseidon" takes off, Val and Katwein become aware of an unwelcome
additional passenger: Skurl, Thane of Hedmark, the over-zealous admirer
of fair Katwein who had been responsible for the kidnapping attempt.
As the ship slowly wallows north towards Northland (Norway), it is
beset by floods, fires, and broken timbers and just barely reaches the
shore. When it seems like Skurl has been killed in the turmoil and
wreckage, Katwein sadly admits that she really loved him. The
blackguard turns up alive, and he is happy to wake up to her smiling
face. The two lovers and some other passengers continue on by land,
while Val, Beric, and a few others salvage a small boat and sail on
towards Trondheim. An undersea earthquake and tidal wave and a
terrifying encounter with a ghastly sea monster follow. Finally, after
months of hardship and danger, Val and Beric sail up Trondheimfjord to
Trondheim. They find that Aguar is holding a great tournament to
celebrate the signing of a treaty with Valgrind, King of the Inner
Lands. Suspicious, Val disguises himself as a troubadour, joins
Valgrind's band, and discovers that there is a plot against Aguar's
throne. Val comes home after three years of adventuring across the
world (since story #13, actually four years earlier). Just as Valgrind
prepares his warriors to capture Aguar's stronghold, Val kidnaps the
plotter and threateningly forces the warriors to give up their plans
and return home to the Inner Lands. The formal reunion of Val and his
father is happy and tearful. Valgrind is, not surprisingly, beheaded
and buried with simple dignity.
Comment: Page #329 is the last one with "stamps," and the new logo
(used until 1980) began with page #330. The presence of so-called
troubadours, who really existed only in France in the 10th to 13th
centuries, is a noticeable anachronism in this and many other Prince
24) #351 (31 Oct 43) - 354(21 Nov 43) The Seductress
Eric, a tall, powerful Saxon who had accompanied Val in the previous
adventure, tries to impress all the girls at the palace. Just as he
begins to get along with the ladies, an impudent girl named Ingrid puts
him in a rage. She reveals her love for him when he "accidentally"
gets injured twice. Gradually, the two fall in love, but Eric is
ashamed he is only a penniless soldier of fortune. In order to change
that, Ingrid reminds King Aguar of Eric's help in the defense of the
castle and has him appointed Jarl of Haldervkik. She leads Eric away
to become her slave for life.
25) #355(28 Nov 43) - 358(19 Dec 43) The Call of the Sea
Since Thule had been saved only by luck and Val's quick thinking, Aguar
and his son try to find out how such treachery could have been
possible. Aguar feels he has ruled firmly but justly, yet there is
revolt along the prosperous coast. Val calls the Vikings together in
council to listen to their grievances. He is surprised to find the men
to be frustrated inveterate sea-rovers, furious at Aguar's well-meaning
attempts to rid Thule of what he calls piracy. Aguar's beautiful dream
of a peaceful, civilized kingdom modeled on Camelot crumbles. He calls
in the Vikings and announces that they may return to the seas, urging
them to concentrate on exploration and trade and forbidding them to
make war on Britain.
26) #358(19 Dec 43) - 363(23 Jan 44) The Jealous Cripple
Calms settles once again over Thule, and after one day of it Val gets
bored and goes hunting. Because of carelessness, he is soon pushed
over a cliff by a wounded stag. A young huntress named Sigrid finds
the dazed lad and shelters him in her cabin. The girl has a bitter,
crippled friend named Gundar Harl, who is talented at carving model
ships. Gundar had earlier lost his right leg in a shipwreck in the icy
north (he is introduced in page #360 and is to become a recurring
character in later years). The three go searching for Val's horse,
which was lost in the accident. Gundar, despairing of ever winning
Sigrid and jealous of Val, tries to send them all over a waterfall but
fails. Gundar is happy when he finds that Sigrid does love him, and
Val is happy when he finds his horse. Before leaving, Val tries to
cheer up Gundar and informs him that Thule has need of good ship-
27) #363(23 Jan 44) - 368(27 Feb 44) A Quick, Bloody Battle
Prince Valiant returns home from his hunting trip to find that the
Finnis raids on the borders of Thule have become serious and that the
King's army has been cut to pieces by guerilla tactics. Aguar sends
his son and some reinforcements. Val joins the tired, bewildered army
and leads it in sullen retreat, but the Finnis come in hot pursuit.
Val and his men hide on a glacier as the Finnis pass and slaughter the
raiders as they wander back to their camp. After the battle, Val
disregards some wise advice and enters the tunnel of the glacier's
stream in pursuit of a deer to eat. A great fall of ice blocks the
entrance. Trapped in a weirdly beautiful cavern, Val and the deer wait
in suspense as the cavern fills with icy water. The pressure of the
pent-up water hurls the icy barrier aside, and the river gushes forth,
carrying a lot of debris, some of which is Prince Valiant. Beric warms
and revives his ailing master, who soon leads his victorious army home.
28) #368(27 Feb 44) - 378(7 May 44) The Rewards of Treachery
Seeking revenge for their recent embarrassment (story 22), the men of
the Inner Lands ride from the South into Thule, disguised as hunters.
They treacherously kidnap Val, who is on his way home from the flood
(story 27). The Prince is tortured and put up for ransom but luckily
escapes after giving Einar the torturer a taste of his own cruel
treatments. Meanwhile, Beric has followed his master's trail and sends
for Aguar's army. Einar is soon shocked to find his secret stronghold
surrounded. The army builds a dam to flood the lands and starve the
torturers out of the castle. The King and Prince ride home, leaving
their warriors to clean up.
Comment: With page #376, Prince Valiant begins a 1½ year period of 2/3
page episodes. Foster devoted the bottom 1/3 of the pages during 1944
and 1945 to a charming extra feature called The Medieval Castle, the
"new, exciting story" of two young boys growing up during the time of
the First Crusade (ca. AD 1096-1099). The illustrations were typically
excellent, and the story was unexciting but pleasingly entertaining.
29) #379(14 May 44) - 468(27 Jan 46) "The Winning of Aleta"
Obsessed by thoughts of Aleta, Val sets out to find her and force her
to release him from the spell he thinks she must have cast on him (see
stories 18, 19, 22). Journeying southward, Val reaches the court of
King Arthur and is greeted by his old friend Sir Gawain. ("Tristram
and Isolde," #381-384: Thinking of their gay adventures of a few years
ago (stories 16,17), Val and Gawain look for their friend Tristram,
hoping he will accompany them to the Misty Isles. They are too late,
for Tristram has a rendezvous with destiny: the jealous King Mark of
Cornwall finds Tristram visiting with his wife, the rendezvous with
destiny: the jealous King Mark of Cornwall finds Tristram visiting
with his wife, the fair Isolde, and kills the famous knight. Val and
Gawain flee the terrible scene of tragedy and bring the sad news back
to Camelot. (Comment: this interesting interlude, based on an incident
in Mallory's Morte d'Arthur and dramatized in Wagner's Tristan und
Isolde, does not really do justice to the famous complex, tragic tale,
and the subsequent death of the grieving Isolde is not even
mentioned.)) After causing some mischief and havoc in Camelot, Val and
Gawain begin their quest. The land journey ends at Marseilles, where
Beric and Val contract a ride to Crete on a ragged ship. Bad weather
causes the ship to crash on the Italian coast. Gawain is briefly
"rescued" and held for ransom by Beneti Benoit and rides home after he
escapes. Meanwhile, Beric leads his injured master across Italy.
Gradually Val recovers his health, and they buy a ship and set out
across the Aegean Sea. When Val and Beric land at the Misty Isles, a
shore patrol immediately attacks and kills Beric. Mad with hate and
anguish and without his full strength and memory due to his recent
illness, Val vows to make the horrid Queen pay. Meanwhile, seventeen-
year old Aleta is about to fulfill her duty to her country by choosing
a husband from among a glittering array of suitors. She had secretly
hoped Val would return to her, but it seems too late. Suddenly a
scarred, ragged madman bursts into the banquet and drags the Queen out.
Amid the roar and confusion of a great storm, Val escapes with his
prisoner and sails to North Africa. Because she is a cruel sorceress,
Val plans to punish Aleta by dragging her in chains through all the
kingdoms of the world. They ride aimlessly across the endless, burning
deserts of Libya. Val soon finds himself protecting the "cruel
sorceress," rather than humiliating her as he had planned. Finally,
after many bouts of delirium, Val's head clears. Aleta explains the
events of the past months to the confused lad, and Val leads her off
again, honor bound to carry out his vow. They head for the coast and
are soon out of the desert. One day, Aleta finally gets angry and
hotly explains to Val that the shores of the Misty Isles are well
protected against pirates, but there had been no cruelty involved when
Val's men were attacked. Years earlier, when Ilene drowned at sea
(story 9), Val was sure he would never love again, and thus he had
believed Aleta's attractiveness was the result of cruel sorcery.
Finally, Aleta makes Val realize that the only sorcery she uses is the
kind which all women can use, and she gets herself "thoroughly kissed"
in the process. Val's surrender to this slim girl's magic is complete
Donardo, robber Emperor of Saramand, comes upon a pretty scene: a
ragged hero and pretty maid falling in love. He decides that the
lovely little lady before him should be a bright jewel in his harem.
The tyrant's men throw Val over a nearby cliff, allowing Donardo to
ride away with his beautiful prize to the gleaming white-walled city of
Saramand. Stunned but unhurt, Val climbs back and sets out to rescue
his newfound love. Heartsick, Val meets Ramud of Tunis, whose
sweetheart was also stolen by Donardo, and the two vow to gather an
army and start war on Saramand. They gather support from nearby
kingdoms, and the siege of Saramand begins. Val vows to regain Aleta
and destroy Saramand if necessary. Aleta disguises herself as a page
boy and escapes from the harem, but goes back after meeting Ramud and
hearing of Val's whereabouts and plans. One dark night soon
thereafter, Val and a small troop sneak into the city from the water,
storm the gates from behind, let in the rest of the army, and sack the
city. After a long battle, Val kills Donardo, and the young lovers are
reunited after months of anguish and peril. Thus a great city falls
and the course of history is altered just so a certain high-spirited
lad can sit once more at the feet of a pretty maid. It is not long
before Val, the new emperor of Saramand, is forced to get back to the
business of reorganizing the city, and he puts it in the keeping of his
Comment: The last 2/3 page Prince Valiant page with Medieval Castle was
#459; full pages resumed with #460 and continued until the 1970's.
30) #465(6 Jan 46) - 484(19 May 46) Matrimony
After a lot of arguing, Val convinces Queen Aleta, whom he had
journeyed around the world for, to marry him. They plan to go to Rome
and, because they are of royal blood, be married in state. However,
Val learns that Genseric, mighty King of the Vandals, is also planning
to sail for Rome. (Historical note: Genseric was actually invited to
destroy the city by the Roman Empress Eudoxia, who wanted revenge for
the murder of her husband, Emperor Valentinian II (see story 17)).
Invasions and weddings don't mix, so Val rides to Tunis to meet with
Genseric. The Vandal King allows Val and Aleta to sail with him and
promises that their wedding will be celebrated before Rome is sacked.
After the Vandal hordes land on the banks of the Tiber and march toward
Rome, Pope Leo the Great (reigned 440-461 AD) gains a promise from them
that the people of Rome will be spared. Emperor Maximus is stoned to
death by his people, and the most terrible sacking of all time begins.
The Pope flees to Ravenna. Val and Aleta follow him, but they are
disappointed to find that he is too busy to marry them. Ex-Empress
Eudoxia, seeing that Val and Aleta want a Christian wedding, takes them
to a kindly old man, once a great Cardinal, who performs the ceremony.
And so, these two who had wanted a royal wedding performed by the Pope
are contentedly joined forever by an old hermit.
Comment: There is a charming epilogue to the marriage scene of page
470. Foster says: "Now here, according to approved writers of romance,
the saga of Prince Valiant should end. But the winning of Aleta is one
thing, costing Val nor more than his heart, but living with her is
another story...and we think the story is worth telling." How true.
Obviously, this story is a major turning point in the saga of Prince
Valiant, and the strip will henceforth contain more "reality" than
fantasy, and as much warmth and characterization as adventure. Aleta
becomes a leading force in Val's life and in the strip.
The historical background of this story is mostly accurate. Genseric
and the Vandals plundered Rome in AD 455 after promising Pope Leo (d.
461; later canonized) not to do too much harm. The incidents involving
General Flavius Aetius and Emperor Valentinian (see stories 16-17)
actually happened earlier the same year (AD 455), not several years
before as Foster indicates. Emperor Petronius Maximus actually reigned
for two more years from the new capitol at Ravenna. Based on the
assumption that this story is indeed meant to take place in AD 455, an
overall chronology of Val's live can be worked out using this as a
reference point (see Appendix 1).
Prince Valiant and his bride return to the burning city of Rome with
Eudoxia and then sails away across the Mediterranean and up the Rhone
River to the city of Lyon. There, Aleta goes shopping for new clothes
and new servants. They proceed up the Rhone and Soane as far as they
can go and then continue overland toward the Seine. Aleta is concerned
when she notices that her handmaiden, Cidi, seems to be in love with
Val. When Val and Aleta reach the Seine and head for Paris, they
release all the servants. Cidi, heartbroken, poisons herself, and
Val's servant Amerath, who had come to love the girl, becomes
infuriated and plans to get revenge on his "heartless" ex-master.
Amerath catches up to Val in Paris but gets killed in an effort to get
Val in trouble. On their way out of Paris, Val and Aleta meet a tall,
splendid red haired woman, Katwin, who is hired as Aleta's new servant.
(Katwin, who is to become Aleta's handmaiden and friend for the next 23
years and eventually Boltar's wife, is introduced in page #480).
Katwin helps Val find a ship, and the three sail down the Seine and
across the English Channel to Britain. After wandering at adventure
over half the world, Prince Valiant returns proudly to Camelot with the
fairest prize a knight ever won. Aleta quickly and happily adjusts to
the luxurious, exciting court life at Camelot.
31) #484(19 May 46) - 504(6 Oct 46) War in the Forest
The Saxons have gained so firm a foothold on the East coast of Britain
that they have named it "East Saxony" (now called Essex). They
encroach still further inland, and war is imminent. Sir Valiant, who
spent his boyhood in that region, is sent to gather information for the
war council. Aleta disguises herself as a small knight, follows along,
and is dubbed "Sir Puny" by her husband, who secretly recognizes her.
She is an added anxiety and an amusing nuisance, but she inadvertently
finds a band of Saxons and saves the scouting party from a fatal
While King Arthur and his council prepare for the march against the
Saxons, a stag hunt is held in the Royal Forest. As Val, Aleta, and
Sir Gawain slowly ride home afterwards, they are suddenly surrounded by
a band of outlaws. Hugh-the-Fox, the leader, announces that he is
holding them for ransom. Hugh soon finds that these three are the most
upsetting people he has ever kidnapped and is even more aggravated when
it turns out that King Arthur and all the knights have marched away to
war and there is no one left in Camelot to pay the ransom. Val
convinces the outlaws to become scouts in Arthur's army in return for a
pardon. Aleta is sent back to the safety of Camelot, and Val, Gawain
and Hugh's men join the King's army. After blocking the Saxon's supply
lines, the scouts lead Arthur's forces secretly and quietly through the
forest. The Saxons are thrown into confusion and in no time are sent
running in wild defeat. Sinister Sir Mordred (first introduced in page
#500) tries to have Hugh and his band of cut-throats arrested, but Val
comes to his friends' defense and convinces the King to allow them to
become official scouts for Arthur's army.
32) #504(6 Oct 46) - 507(20 Oct 46) Self-Sacrifice
Sir Mordred, half-brother of the King, is shrewd, ambitious, and
ruthless. He is the leader among those nobles who secretly plot to
seize the throne. Mordred oversees a clandestine rendezvous between
Sir Launcelot du Lac and Queen Guinevere, who have secretly loved each
other for years (this is one of the few times that Foster mentions the
famous romance of Launcelot and Guinevere, one of the cornerstones of
standard Arthurian mythology). Aleta is also a witness to this tableau
and knows that sinister Mordred would try to use knowledge of the
incident to create enmity between the King and his right-hand man.
Aleta knows her husband's heart would break if disaster came to the
kingdom, and thus, when Mordred dramatically accuses Launcelot of
inappropriate familiarity with the Queen, Aleta saves the kingdom by
claiming that she, not Guinevere, was in Sir Launcelot's embrace.
Guinevere and Launcelot remain silent. Angrily, King Arthur orders
Mordred to make peace with the Queen and to go away to aid in some
ongoing fighting. Aleta doesn't try to explain anything to her
horrified husband. When Val gets home, Katwin berates him for his
distrust and explains what really happened. Meanwhile, Aleta has snuck
away from Camelot in shame. Val rides furiously through the night to
catch up with her and apologize for his mistrust.
33) #507(27 Oct 46) - 519(19 Jan 47) Aguar's Daughter-in-Law
Val and Aleta cannot return to Camelot, so Katwin suggests that the
King of Thule should meet his new daughter-in-law. They pack all their
belongings, journey to the coast, and set out on the long voyage across
wintry seas. After 5 weeks, they reach the coast of Thule and land at
Trondheimfjord. Val finds some work to do: the powerful Earl Gunguir
of Overgaard is revolting against the King. Aleta is sent on ahead to
the palace. ("Trial by Arms," #509-513: When Val arrives at Gunguir's
stronghold, the Thane of Overgaard and his sneering son, Ulfrun (the
mighty sea raider who will soon become Val's worst enemy), make angry
threats and refuse to calmly discuss their grievances. Val is tricked
into calling for a "trial by arms," and a huge brutal champion is
called forth to be his opponent. Val is severely wounded but wins the
long, exhausting battle. The Prince lies recovering in the rebel
fortress for three more days, announces that Gunguir will be tried
before the Spring meeting of the Council of Chieftains, and then starts
homeward.) Meanwhile, Aleta has arrived at her new home. She tries to
keep her identity a surprise by posing as a handmaiden, but her beauty,
royal bearing and behavior are dead giveaways. The impudent girl helps
Aguar in a political struggle by inviting lonely, rebellious old Earl
Jon, Aguar's old comrade-in-arms, for a pleasant dinner party. Val
finally arrives home and greets his father after another 2 year absence
(i.e. since story 29-A). Earl Jon invites the newlyweds to be guests
for a bear hunt at his fief.
34) #520(26 Jan 47) - 594(18 Apr 48) The New World
Spring (ca. 456) comes once again to Thule, and it is time for the
Council of Chiefs. Val meets an old friend, Gundar Harl, the crippled
ship builder (see story 26), who shows him his latest nautical
masterpiece. Gunguir arrives with Ulfrun who sees lovely Aleta and
becomes filled with desire. While Val inspects Gundar's new ship,
Ulfrun impulsively kidnaps Aleta and carries her to Gunguir's great
dragonship. When the news is brought to Val, he becomes enraged and
orders Gundar to prepare his ship for a long voyage. Katwin, her arm
broken by Ulfrun's cruel oarsmen, climbs aboard and insists on coming
along, showing Val some tiny things that Aleta had been sewing and
explaining that her mistress will need a woman's care when she is
found! Filled with emotion, Val swears to follow Ulfrun unto death.
Ulfrun, realizing he may have been unwise, orders his ship to head out
to sea. He is followed relentlessly by Val's red-sailed vessel. The
grim chase goes on for weeks, and the ships head westward away from any
known land. They pass some large land masses later to be known as
Iceland and Greenland, but the two men are only interested in one small
grey-eyed girl, and the discovery is considered unimportant. At the
coast of newfoundland, Ulfrun turns south and proceeds up the St.
Lawrence River. The sea-king's men gradually become hungry and
desparate and lose all loyalty to their cruel master. Gundar Harl
follows mercilessly to Lake Ontario and up the Niagara River. The
dragonship is finally found. Ulfrun's crew deserts him. Val runs
after Ulfrun and confronts him on the edge of the Niagara whirlpool.
The long chase comes to an abrupt end, for Ulfrun is exhausted and
afraid and is no longer a formidable opponent. Numb and drained, Val
turns back to find his wife, whose captors are now protecting her in
return for a pardon. Aleta tenderly soothes her great warrior, and
Katwin soothes her long-suffering mistress.
Prince Valiant decides to spend the winter in this new land and sail
for home in the spring. The Indians, partly in fear of the Vikings'
terrible metal weapons, agree to help the strangers. Since they had
never before seen a beautiful blonde, the Native Americans (probably
intended to represent the Algonquin tribe) proclaim Aleta to be a
woodland goddess. As a cold, eventful winter passes, Aleta learns to
love the people and the beautiful, primitive woods (except for the
porcupines, skunks, and snow). (Comment: Foster spent some of his
youth in the Canadian woods and was thus able to imbue this tale with
particular verisimilitude). The admiring Great Tribal Council presents
Aleta with many gifts, including a middle-aged squaw named Tillicum
(Aleta's nurse for many years to come, introduced in page #549). In
the middle of winter, Aleta gives birth to a tiny, noisy, unfinished-
looking baby. The excited, proud father spends the next few days
raving endlessly about his wonderful son, heir to the throne of Thule,
who will certainly be a great warrior one day. ("My Life Story," #555:
This is an amusing, charming episode in which the baby gives his point
of view on life, based on four long weeks of experience.) Gradually,
winter's icy grip on the forest is broken, and Gundar Harl begins to
prepare for the return journey. Aleta's admiration for the `Singing
Sword' inspires her to decide that the baby will be named Prince Arn,
after Val's old friend, the sword's original owner (see story #9). The
proud parents are anxious to return to Camelot for a royal christening
and speed preparations. There are dangerous delays because of
hostility between some of the tribes. When the day finally comes that
the Northmen have to leave their good friends and their happy winter
home, Aleta prophesizes that perhaps her son will some day return to
the land of his birth and lead the Indians to greatness. (Historical
note: Aleta's prophecy, we are told, is the origin of the ancient
Indian legend of Quetzalcoatl, the "fair god who would someday return
from across the sea." This legend helped Hernando Cortes conquer the
Aztecs of Mexico in 1519-1521; apparently, it was all Aleta's fault!)
Tillicum decides to come along to remain Arn's nurse. The ship sails
swiftly eastward but hits a reef and sinks on the coast of
Newfoundland. After weeks of repairs, the voyage is resumed. The long
journey across the desolate Atlantic is long and frightening, but
Gundar Harl's ship lands safely on Ireland. ("The Charms of Ireland,"
#584-589: Aleta almost falls into the brutal hands of Roary Dhu, an
Irish King. A small war ensues between the Vikings and Irishmen.)
After escaping from Ireland, Val and his band reach Britain in a few
days. Following a farewell banquet, Gundar sails for Thule, and Val,
Aleta, and their small retinue paddle on to Camelot, Indian style.
35) #595(4 Jul 48) - 615(21 Nov 48) The Mad King
Shortly after Val's return, King Arthur finds work for him to do. King
Tourien of Cornwall has been killing Arthur's tax gatherers and knights
and sending insulting messages. Aleta realizes for the first time how
difficult marriage will be, for her man will frequently be leaving on
dangerous missions. Val rides to Cornwall and boldly enters the
impregnable cliffside fortress. Thinking Val a traitor who wants to
join them, pompous Tourien, a fat little madman, and his three brutal
sons unfold their plans of conquest. Val plays on their mad ambitions
in order to get them outside their castle walls, sends for a secret
army from Camelot, and tricks Tourien into captivity. The evil son
Cedric is killed by his own men. After freeing all the prisoners in
the dungeon and turning over power to a representative of King Arthur,
Val rides home.
36) #616(28 Nov 48) As Arn Tells It
Another cute baby's-eye view of Aleta and Val.
37) #617(5 Dec 48) - 624(23 Jan 49) The Christening
It is time for the christening of Val and Aleta's son, and they decide
that the original Prince Arn, Val's boyhood friend, should be the
godfather. Val rides to Ord and meets his old friend along the way.
There is much reminiscing. Despite their dual promises never to love
again after the death of Ilene (see story #9), Arn, too, has a wife,
Linet, and a son, named Prince Valiant! Linet and Aleta become fast
friends and convince the Archbishop and King Arthur to hold a gala
double christening at Camelot. Prince Arn becomes godfather to Prince
Arn, and Prince Valiant becomes godfather to Prince Valiant.
Comment: Page 623 contains a large, beautiful, marvelously detailed
panel showing the christening -- one of Foster's finest drawings. It is
said that Foster originally wanted to use an authentic Viking name like
Arn for his main hero, but the syndicate disapproved. Subsequently,
Foster seems to have enjoyed a measure of revenge by using the name for
these several other characters.
38) #624(23 Jan 49) - 643(5 June 49) Black Magic in Wales
Oom Fooyat, a visiting magician, wreaks havoc in Merlin's workshop and
becomes a nuisance in Camelot. Likewise, Sirs Valiant and Gawain fall
out of favor and are sent away by King Arthur to investigate reports of
black magic in Wales. Merlin prepares Val by teaching him how magic is
but scientific trickery. As Val and Gawain ride to the haunted castle
of Illwynde, they are joined by a frightened knight, Sir Cador, who
tells terrifying stories, which convince Val that the fief is ruled by
scare tactics. Resolving to fight fear with fear, Val frightens the
inhabitants of the castle by swinging a witch-like clay figure into the
castle. Ordered to yield or submit to a trial by arms, the castle's
inhabitants send out a champion, the Demon Knight of Illwynde, who is
unhorsed by Sir Cador and discovered to be a woman. The leader,
elderly Lady Wildwyn, yields possession of the castle to Val's forces
and explains that she made her ladies dress as witches only to protect
the castle. ("The Romance of Oom Fooyat," #638-639: At Illwynde Oom
blunderingly tries to impress Winnie the Witch Woman, who falls in love
with him anyway. Queen Wildwyn performs the marriage ceremony. Oom
reappears 26 years later in story 130.) Val and Gawain recruit a
garrison to protect the castle. Sir Cador is ordered back to Camelot,
but he has fallen in love with Lady Gwynn and refuses to go. Val's
squire, Osk, also falls in love at Illwynde and desires to stay.
Gawain also gets romantically involved but is frightened into leaving
when Val mentions the prospect of marriage and settling down.
39) #644(12 June 49) - 647(3 July 49) The Ambitious Boy
Returning to Camelot, the knights meet and unhorse a 14 year old boy
who foolishly challenges them to a joust. They tell the lad, Geoffrey,
that they will take him to Camelot for training. Val rejoins his
family and sees his baby son, Arn, beginning to develop a personality.
Geoffrey falls in love with Aleta and tells her how impatient he is to
be a knight and do great deeds in her honor. Geoff begins his training
by becoming a squire. (Introduced in page #644, Geoffrey is later to
become the official historian of Prince Valiant and a regular
40) #647(3 July 49) - 675(15 Jan 50) Into Scotland
Peacetime makes the knights restless, so Arthur sends Prince Valiant to
Hadrian's wall (see story #21) to see if it is in good repair and to
drive back any Picts who might have settled there. The knights find
that the Picts have indeed broken through and have assembled a full-
scale invasion force. Val leads his troops into the Scottish side,
where they take over the milecastle in which the Picts have been. Now,
as the Pictish rovers come to the wall, they are forced through into
the British side without arms or food. When the raiders try to fight
their way back into Scotland, they are decimated by Val's troops. Val
sets up ladders to allow the surviving raiders to return, arranges a
truce with two of the clan leaders, and insures a feud between the
clans by giving unequal bribes. Geoffrey, who had left Camelot to join
the battle, is sent back with a report on the action for Arthur and in
his haste steals one of the King's steeds. Meanwhile, Val has been
wounded in the fighting, and Aleta comes to nurse him. She single-
handedly ends the invasion by talking with the Picts and promising food
and safe passage home.
Aleta takes her injured husband to Newcastle near the sea so that he
can be transported back to Camelot by ship. She sends Geoffrey to
fetch Katwin and Arn, but when the boy reaches Camelot, he is arrested
as a horse thief. Geoff escapes long enough to deliver his message to
Katwin but is recaptured and banished from Camelot by King Arthur for a
year and a day. Katwin, Geoff and Arn sail back to Newcastle, where
they encounter Boltar. (#671: Prince Arn narrates the story of his
own first tooth, which places him at about 6-9 months of age.) Since
Geoffrey's feet cannot touch British soil, Boltar ties his feet into a
sack of Caledonian soil and carries him ashore to the place where Val
waits. There, a man named Torlay recognizes Geoffrey as a missing
runaway lad named Arf, who had fled a wicked stepmother. Torlay
reports that she is now gone and it would be safe for Arf to return
home. "Geoff" decides to continue his quest for knighthood with Val.
41) #675(15 Jan 50) - 683(12 Mar 50) Home Again
Boltar decides to take Geoff and Val's family to Thule on his ship but
goes on a quick raid first. The passengers are endangered by a second
raid on a coastal city, and Tillicum, Arn's nurse, berates Boltar for
his carelessness. Avoiding further conflicts, the ship passes quietly
by Orkney Island and stops at Shetland Island before arriving at Thule.
Boltar gives Tillicum a gift of a gold chain and promises to see her
again. When the group arrives at Vikingsholm, King Arthur sees his
grandchild Arn for the first time.
42) #684(19 Mar 50) My Sword
Arn narrates how he crawled out of his crib to grasp Val's `Singing
43) #685(26 Mar 50) - 691(7 May 50) The Challenge
Winter (ca. 457) comes to Thule with hunting and feasting. Prince Egil
is smitten by Aleta and makes unwelcome advances. Arf sees this and
challenges Egil to a duel. Val enters the conflict and himself
challenges Jarl Egil to a duel. Val enters the duel without his
`Singing Sword' and is quickly put on foot when his horse is killed.
Val manages to unhorse Egil and the two are prevented from uselessly
hurting each other only when Arf climbs to a nearby roof and dumps snow
on the combatants. Val and Egil give up and part on friendly terms.
44) #691(7 May 50) - 758(19 Aug 51) The Missionaries
King Aguar is petitioned by some Jarls who complain about Christians
trying to overthrow their old religion. Aguar questions the
evangelists and finds them lacking in knowledge. Since he sees value
in Christianity turning his people away from their violent ways, Aguar
asks Val, Jarl Egil, Art, and Rufus Regan to go to Rome to bring back
some competent teachers. ("The Cost of Peace," #694-707: Hap-Atla,
King of the Inner Lands, is informed that with Val away, Thule is left
unprotected. He had promised his father to invade and conquer Thule
and now sees his chance. When the invasion begins, Aleta's clever
strategies lead the Inner Lands armies into a trap. Aleta then
arranges a peace conference and invites Hap-Atla's queen and child.
The two women become friends, and Queen Jan forces her husband Hap to
give up his dangerous dreams of conquest.) Val and his companions pass
through Rouen and decide to go the rest of the way to Rome by the
overland route. At the small kingdom of Boisanie, they are held up by
border guards posing as robbers. After resisting the ambush, Val and
his men dethrone Boisanie's King Dumdrible (!) and prepare to try him
for the actions of his men. The King stalls by bringing his
marriageable daughters to a feast, hoping one of the knights will be
attracted to them. The king is thrown into a dungeon anyway, but Val
finds husbands for the King's daughters to rule the Kingdom. Val and
his friends next meet Sieur du Lac, a democratic ruler who has given
his men the land so he can devote himself to alchemy. One of Du Lac's
tricks explodes and burns the knights' hair. Next, the knights
encounter a troubadour who asks them to rescue a red-haired, blue-eyed
girl who is held captive by an evil man. The knights separate to
search, and Arf, Val and Egil each bring back a different red-haired
girl, none of whom is the right one. Rufus finds the right girl, and
when he tries to "help" her, she wraps a musical instrument around his
head. Fleeing from the girl's pursuers, Val's group chances upon the
castle of Ruy Foulke, where they aid in repelling an attack force led
by Black Robert. When the battle dies down, Val helps arrange peace by
having the combatants will the disputed lands to Robert's son and Ruy's
daughter, who are in love and plan to wed. As Val and his friends
travel on, they begin to see signs of the decay and impending collapse
of the Roman Empire (it is now about 458 AD). They encounter an army
of barbarians and escape via a secret pass through the Alps. ("The
Hunter," #732-738: While hunting for chamois fur with which to make
coats for the cold trip through the Alps, Val kills an armed stranger,
is hunted by the man's companion, and escapes only after a long chase
through the snowy mountains.) Arf's feet freeze during the icy
passage through the Alps. Val leaves Arf in critical condition at a
hospital in Torino, while he and his men continue their mission.
Finally, Val, Egil, and Rufus arrive at Rome (Val's third time; see
stories 16 and 30A), where they intend to fulfill their goal of
requesting missionaries for Thule. When Val is informed the Pope has
moved to Ravenna, he sets forth to that city in a chariot. Val is
unable to get to see the Pope, but a committee agrees to send
missionaries to Thule.
Val learns that Arf's life is in danger and speeds back to Torino.
Arf's frozen foot had to be amputated, and the poor lad has lost his
will to live. Val tries to make Arf feel better by telling him
encouraging stories about Gundar Harl (the one-legged ship builder; see
story 26) and another one-legged lad who makes arrows for King Arthur
(see story 22). Arf finally regains his spirits and becomes
enthusiastic when Val gives him the task of being secretary and making
a full report of the mission. While Egil and Regan stay to accompany
the missionaries, Val goes homeward by sea with Arf. When the sea
journey begins, Arf again becomes depressed about his future. Val
reassures him that he was a thinking man anyway and never would have
been a good warrior. When the ship stops at Portugal, a young girl,
Adele, comes aboard. Arf immediately falls in love with her and begins
to write songs and poetry. With Adele's encouragement, Arf takes to
writing and begins his biography of Prince Valiant (Foster mentions in
page #754 how "the author of these pages is very grateful for the time
yellowed parchments" of Arf/Geoffrey, later referred to as "The
Chronicles," as the source of the Prince Valiant tales.) After a brief
battle with some pirates, the ship finally arrives at Britain. The
sailors give Arf a wooden leg as a present, and the lad returns to his
father's home, accompanied by Adele. The two pledge eternal devotion,
and Arf resumes his studies.
45) #758(19 Aug 51) - 767(21 Oct 51) "?"
Val returns to Camelot and rejoins his friend Gawain. The two enjoy
some pranks, the infuriated object of which challenges the two knights
to individual jousts. Both end up in the infirmary. Then a message
from King Aguar arrives summoning Prince Valiant home. Arf and Gawain
join him for a trip to Thule. After the usual duels with strange
knights, the travellers rest at Hadrian's wall. At Gawain's home in
the Orkney Islands off Scotland, Lothian castle, Gawain's brothers plot
against Val because of his northern racial extraction. Angry Gawain
forces a trade agreement to be signed between Orkney and Thule. After
a storm, Val sails home and rides to his father's castle. An air of
mystery hangs upon the castle (an amusing blurb reads: "Next week: ?"),
and Val fears Aleta is ill. He races to her chambers and finds out she
has given birth to twin baby girls (first seen in page #767) who are
now 4 months old.!
46) #767(21 Oct 51) - 769(4 Nov 51) The Prince Arn Story
Little Prince Arn is jealous at the attention given to his baby
sisters. He narrates the story of his father's homecoming (note an
amusing touch: pages #768 and 769 have "Arn scrawled over the Prince
Valiant logo). Val gives Arn a sword and shield as presents, and Arn
leaves the castle to adventure in the outside world. Val rescues the
boy from a wolf, and Aleta frets that Arn will soon go out into the
world. For now, however, he is hers.
47) #770(1 Nov 51) - 782(3 Feb 52) The King's Justice
The treaty with Orkney is signed. Arf arrives at Vikingsholm. Boltar
is arrested for plundering the merchant ship of Adele's father and
brought before King Aguar. Tillicum springs Boltar from captivity, and
he abducts her. Aboard his ship, Tillicum lunges at the pirate with a
knife and then sets fire to his cabin and escapes. As Boltar sails
away, Aleta learns that Tillicum is in love with him! Boltar,
meanwhile, learns of a Danish invasion descending upon Thule and sends
a message to warn Aguar. After hesitating, Boltar's forces help Aguar
repel the invaders. Aguar decides to free the outlaw/hero on the
condition that someone stand responsible for Boltar's conduct.
Tillicum comes forth and says she will be responsible, and she and
Boltar decide to the marry (the unlikely pair -- a fat Viking pirate
and slim Indian princess -- tie the know in page 782).
48) #782(3 Feb 52) - 790(30 Mar 52) A Little Hunting
Val gets restless after a while at home and goes away on a hunting trip
with Arf. Soon after the trip begins they are swept away in the
current of a swollen river. The two frustrated hunters build a canoe
and try to get home via the river and the sea. The journey is fraught
with danger, but eventually they make it to the shore, and, after
fixing up the damaged canoe, to Vikingsholm. There is much celebration
when Val and Arf, missing and feared dead, return home.
49) #791(6 Apr 52) - 794(27 Apr 52) The Wager orVal Eats Crow
Val sees Aleta training a hunting hawk and makes a bet he can train a
better one. He captures a young gyrfalcon. Aguar joins the bet, and
they all agree to eat what their birds kill. In the hunt, Val's bird
downs a crow, but at the feast Aleta substitutes partridge meat for the
50) #794(27 Apr 52) - 796(11 May 52) Another Christening
Rufus Regan returns with the Roman missionaries (see story 44A), and
Aleta plans to have her twins christened. A church is built. Aleta
chooses names and the baby girls are christened Valeta and Karen.
51) #797(18 May 52) - 799(1 June 52) The Stolen River
Val and Rufus investigate border trouble. A Thule river has been
diverted by settlers across the border of Scandia. In order to prevent
a battle, Val dams the river and gets the two sides to share it.
52) #799(1 June 52) - 810(17 Aug 52) Sigurd's Doom
Riding home, Val is suddenly struck by an arrow in the throat and is
luckily saved from injury by his necklace. Rufus and Val capture the
would-be assassin, Os, who explains he thought Val was Sigurd Holem,
arrogant ruler of a nearby fief. Val decides to meet this tyrant. Os
leads them to Holem. After the meeting with the tyrant, Val's
departure is interrupted by news that Os has been killed in a
suspicious "tavern brawl." The knights are escorted away by a new
guide, Jarl Oder, but once beyond the castle walls Val ties up Jarl and
disguises himself as the guide. In disguise Val reenters the castle
and learns the daughters of the peasants in Holem's fief are slaves and
then leaves the castle again, climbing down the clay cliff face. Aguar
then leaves the castle again, climbing down the clay cliff face. Aguar
sends Rufus back with troops. Val has the men, aided by local serfs,
tunnel under the cliff face until an underground stream emerges and
begins to wash the clay away. The castle crumbles. Holem meets Val in
combat and falls into a chasm to his death.
53) #811(24 Aug 52) - 816(28 Sept 52) The Story Teller
Arf asks Val to relate the story of the regaining of Thule. Val tells
how they returned to his homeland from the Fens and how Sligon gave up
his throne (story 11). Val then relates how he participated in the
fall of Andelkrag the Unconquerable (story 14). Arf records the
stories for posterity.
Comment: This episode consists mostly of beautiful reprinted drawings
from the great 1939 stories, with a few new framing panels. Foster
presumably did this to get ahead on his work so he could take a
vacation. Interestingly, this "flashback" device has rarely been used
in newspaper comics except for the occasional reused gags in long-
running humor strips.
54) #817(5 Oct 52) The Huntsman
Prince Arn shoots a rabbit and Tillicum gives him the unpleasant task
of cleaning it himself.
55) #818(12 Oct 52) - 825(30 Nov 52) Kidnapped
Boltar returns home and Tillicum invites Arn to visit their home. When
Arn strays out of Boltar's house he is nabbed by some of Boltar's
enemies. Tillicum finds traces of the deed and starts in pursuit,
using her Indian wood lore. Boltar in turn follows Tillicum's trail.
Tillicum finds Arn and frees him, leaving a trail through the mud that
the kidnappers can easily follow. Boltar comes across the villains
and, together with Tillicum, kills them. The group returns home. Val
and Boltar sail to Caerlon, which they learn is the home base of the
kidnappers, and make the ones responsible pay for their evil deeds.
56) #826(7 Dec 52) - 836(15 Feb 53) Valhalla
King Aguar complains to his son that the Vikings are resisting attempts
at Christianization. Val takes two men, Helgi and Tor, to the villages
to investigate why. They learn the Vikings drove out the missionaries
who scorned the old Norse Gods. The three are welcomed by a Druid who
gives Val a drugged potion. Val looks into the rays of the setting sun
and beholds the ancient gods (this scene in #828 is one of Foster's
most colorful and beautiful panels), but he is not fooled by the
illusion thanks to Merlin's training. The three men spend a night in a
village where there is rivalry between believers in the old gods and
the "new god." Val exposes the Druid's trickery in the temple of Woden
and tells the people to go the the Christian chapel to learn the true
faith. The chapel is destroyed in a suspicious fire, but the villagers
offer to rebuild it. During the hard trip home, Helgi is accidentally
killed in a forest fire he starts. Val and Tor are saved by a rain.
Back home, a sulky Val is cheered up by Aleta, but not until after a
57) #837(22 Feb 53) - 840(15 Mar 53) The Explorer
Deciding to have an adventure by himself, Arn goes outside the castle
with his faithful dog, Sir Gawain. The real Sir Gawain happens to be
nearby, finds Arn, and brings the boy back to his worried, angry
58) #841(22 Mar 53) - 851(31 May 53) The Vanishing Army
While Aleta is called back to the Misty Isles and Tillicum gives birth
to a baby boy (page #842; Boltar's son is later named Hatha; see story
#123), Gawain summons Val to see King Arthur regarding an important
mission. Arthur fears the five kings of Cornwall are allied with the
invading Saxons. Val plans to turn the Saxons and the kings against
each other. First, he disguises himself as a troubadour and travels to
Restormal Castle. There, he sings Viking songs understood only by the
Saxon guests, suggesting that treachery is being brewed by the King.
The Saxons in response attack Restormal. Next, Val rides to Launceston
castle with news of Restormal's sacking, causing the Saxon visitors at
Launceston to be killed. Val returns to Camelot for a fleet which
attacks the Saxons. The Saxon invasion of Tintagel is foiled by the
navy's fireballs, and the Saxons are starved and forced to temporarily
give up their violent ambitions.
Comment: Foster indicates that one panel in page #844 was based on
sketches he made while travelling in Cornwall in January, 1953. This
must have been the vacation for which he worked ahead and used reprint
segments (see comments on story 52).
59) #852(7 June 53) - 869(4 Oct 53) The Rule of Irish Kings
Arthur sends Val and some knights to Ireland to seek peace. As they
land, a large Irishman, Brien O'Curry, challenges Val to battle. By
throwing the Irishman into the water, Val wins the fight and a friend.
At Brien's stronghold, Val explains his mission of peace. Brien tells
Val he will take him to see Rory McColm, the ruling King. brien's
group encounters a rival clan. A battle begins but is halted by a man
named Parrick, who tells Val about his religious work and the nature of
the Irish. The two part and Val is taken to Cashel, where he waits two
weeks for an audience with the arrogant King. Rory refuses Val's peace
overtures and suggestions for a common defense against invaders.
During the banquet that follows, Val jokes about Rory's table manners
and is challenged to a duel by the hot-headed king. The battle starts
on a narrow platform. Val is at first overwhelmed by Rory's weight,
height, and armor, but manages to stick his sword between Rory's eyes,
blinding him and cutting off his little finger. Then Patrick appears
and tells the angry crowd that Rory can no longer be King, since Irish
custom requires Kings to be without blemish. Val slips away but is
pursued by Rory. Racing towards the coast, Val sees and Elk Hound, a
Viking breed of dog, which leads the knights to the ship of Val's
friend, Gundar Harl of Thule. Val quickly gets aboard, leaving behind
the raging Rory. Brien says farewell, telling Val that Rory will no
longer be king and Patrick (later Saint) will advocate Arthur's call
for peace and alliance.
Comment: The real Saint Patrick died on March 17, AD 461, about the
time of this story in Foster's mythical time scheme (see chronology).
Val's encounters with the major figures of 5th Century European history
are among the most fascinating and enjoyable features of the strip.
60) #870(11 Oct 53) - 879(13 Dec 53) Merlin's Message
Val hears that King Arthur is hard pressed by the Saxon cavalry and
rides toward Camelot. At Dozmary Pool he meets Merlin, who begins to
tell Val that "...Arthur will live if stirrups...." The message is
interrupted when a girl named Nimue appears and lures Merlin away. As
Val rides back to Camelot, his way is blocked by a troop of Saxon
horsemen. Fighting through, Val suddenly understands the incomplete
message. Val tells Arthur to have his knights be more lightly armed so
they can beat the Saxons -- with stirrups. Val goes out to the forest
to enlist the aid of Hugh-the-Fox and his men (see story 31) but is
captured by Horsa the Saxon chief. Horsa tortures Val, who deceptively
says that Arthur's knights can be decoyed out of Camelot. The attack
starts with Val, dressed in Saxon costume, pushed into the front line.
Val calls out his own name and is recognized by Sir Gawain. The
lightly armed knights demolish the charging Saxons, and Val is a hero.
Comment: Legend has it that Merlin was entranced by Nimue the Water
Maiden and never heard from again. He will appear once more in story
#77 to fulfill this prophecy.
61) #879(13 Dec 53) - 897(18 Apr 54) Under the Frivolous Curls
Val decides to rejoin Aleta and travels southward through France toward
the Aegean. ("The Flirt," #880-883: Gawain comes along and falls for
a girl and decides to stay in France. The girl however had flirted
with Gawain only to make her husband jealous. Frightened by Gawain's
boldness, the girl calls her servant, Pierre, to defend her. Just then
the husband enters and at first threatens Gawain but ends up helping
him spank the girl for her "naughtiness." Pierre becomes Gawain's
slave and squire. Gawain tries unsuccessfully to get rid of the
bumbling servant.) Val, Gawain, and Pierre continue their journey.
Meanwhile, rumors of disaster to her kingdom in the Misty Isles had
brought Queen Aleta home from Thule after several years of absence (the
Isles had not been seen or mentioned since story 29A, 1945). Aleta
finds that her throne and her person are in great peril. The nobles
scheme to turn the lovely, peaceful Misty Isles into a warlike power.
At the palace Aleta is greeted by her sister, Helene, who has been
regent during these past few years, and her ruthless husband Dionseus,
who has apparently been the real ruler of the Kingdom in Aleta's
absence. Aleta does not immediately assume the throne, spending time
instead observing the recent changes in her homeland. Many new laws
have been enacted in her absence, including large tax increases and
vast expenditures to create an army and navy. The Misty Isles would
become wealthy, powerful and feared if the changes would continue, and
only the small, seemingly lighthearted Queen stands in the way. She
finally assumes her throne but finds that laws have been passed to
render her helpless. No one takes her seriously, but this gives her an
advantage and enables her to learn much dangerous information. An
attempt by the nobles and the army to poison Aleta and her children
fails when the royal food taster dies. Aleta orders a great ship made
ready for use, commands a review of the troops and hires a company of
comedians. Then she orders all foreign soldiers to leave the Isles on
the waiting ship, in accordance with a new law against hiring foreign
soldiers or mercenaries (which had been intended to eliminate Aleta's
Viking guards). Dionseus, furious, is also sent away as commander of
the army. The hired comedians make Dionseus an object of ridicule.
Sick with rage and hungry for power and vengeance, Dionseus sails away,
vowing to return. Aleta tries to console her broken-hearted sister.
Dionseus sails his ship into the port of Candia in Crete to re-arm his
mercenaries for an attack on the Misty Isles. Simultaneously, Val and
Gawain finally arrive. Aleta calls together the leaders of the kingdom
and threatens them with punishment for further treachery, ordering them
to change back the laws. Gawain's squire Pierre, seeking adventure in
the taverns, stumbles upon a discussion of Dionseus' plot to return and
attack the Misty Isles. The noblemen plan not to defend the kingdom.
Pierre returns home and informs his master, who calls a council of war.
On the day of the invasion, Aleta orders her small army to ignore the
invaders. The warlike nobles, who had planned to try adding to the
confusion and opening the gates, are sent away, their plans foiled.
They join Dionseus' army. Then Val takes the palace guard and quickly
vanquishes the confused enemy army. The nobles flee and sail away,
rather than face Queen Aleta's gallows, and the leaderless mercenaries
lay down their arms. Aleta's kingdom is saved. Although he deserved
hanging, Dionseus is banished to Samos and humiliated Helene chooses to
join him (the two appear only once more, years later, in story 131).
The other nobles are pardoned on the condition that they pledge their
allegiance and provide outstanding service to the kingdom. The navy is
converted to a trading fleet.
62) #898(24 Apr 54) Prince Arn and the Sorceress
Little Arn marvels at the "spell" Aleta has over her husband.
63) #899(2 May 54) - 917(5 Sept 54) The Pilgrimage
The goal of every Christian knight is a pilgrimage to the holy city of
Jerusalem, so now that Aleta's kingdom has been tidied up, Gawain and
Val take ship to Jaffa. They purchase mounts from Arab horse dealers
and make the long, harsh ride over the coastal plain and across the
broken hills. At Jerusalem, Val and Gawain are interrupted in their
search for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by the cries of a strange
old man imprisoned behind a barred window. After finding the holiest
spot in all Christendom and rededicating their swords to the service of
justice and right, the two decide to find out who the prisoner was and
why he has been so harshly punished. Pierre finds out from gossiping
servants that the prisoner is Sir Basil of Highwood, who has for ten
years been the prisoner of Sherif Ben El Rasch. The Sheik has used Sir
Basil as a decoy, attracting rescue attempts by Christian knights who
are captured and held for ransom. To rescue Sir Basil, Val and Gawain
kidnap the Arab Sheik and offer him freedom only if he will release the
knight from the dungeon. Ben El Rasch refuses, assuming that his tribe
will find him and avenge him. Learning of the kidnapping, friends and
enemies of El Rasch gather in Jerusalem, and the Roman guard is
doubled. A sly Syrian enemy of the Sheik's finds the kidnappers and
threatens to reveal their secret crime if they don't sell their
prisoner to him. Pretending to agree, Val arranges to release his
prisoner outside the city walls. Pierre spreads their "secret" plan
and when the Syrians, Roman guards, and desert tribe all leave the city
to find the fugitive, Val and Gawain free Sir Basil and leave the city.
Vowing to continue their pilgrimage, the three knights head north to
Nazareth. As they follow the road down which Mary and Joseph once trod
to Bethlehem, a large band of Arabs search the land for the pilgrims,
seeking to avenge their chieftain. Ten scouts find them and launch and
attack but are demolished by the great swords and longbows of the
Christians. Past the ruins of Jericho, more Arabs close in. Ben El
Rasch rides from Jerusalem, hoping to witness the slow death of his
British enemies, and hard on his heels comes the Syrian and his
followers, eager to satisfy a lifelong hatred for El Rasch. The
Syrians capture their enemy. Gawain pauses a moment to rescue a maiden
in distress who turns out to be the Sheik's daughter. As the Arabs and
Syrians clash, the knights escape and deliver the girl back to
Jerusalem. The next day, the knights come safely to Bethlehem and
rest, their hazardous pilgrimage completed. Now that they have visited
all the sacred places in the Holy Land, they are known as "palmers" and
are entitled to wear the sign of the crossed palms. As they leave for
the coast to return homeward, they observe the Roman cohort marching by
on its way home to aid in a last feeble attempt to save the Empire (it
is now roughly AD 461, and by 476 the Western Roman Empire will be
totally dissolved, its Eastern regions to be taken over by the
Byzantine and Ottoman empires). The Dark Age, which has already
consumed Europe, begins to cast its shadow over the Middle East.
64) #918(12 Sept 54) - 931(12 Dec 54) Back in the Misty Isles
Putting her kingdom back together (story 61) has taken so much of
Aleta's time that her son feels neglected. Prince Arn and his
companion, Paul, are restless for adventure and are helped to "escape"
from the palace by a homely young peasant girl named Diane. The little
girl leads the boys on an exciting trip to the beach, but Arn and Paul,
unable to swim, become trapped on a wave-swept offshore rock. The
Queen is upset to realize that her son was in danger mainly because she
had neglected to teach him how to swim; the boys, she realizes, are
palace bred and need outside experience. Diane, the one who can teach
them most, has been excluded from their play because she is a girl, so
Aleta issues a royal proclamation decreeing Diane a boy for a year and
a day (!). Aleta and Katwin give the children swimming lessons. When
Val comes sailing home from the pilgrimage to the Holy Land (story 63),
he spots Aleta swimming and joyfully leaps into the sea to greet her.
Back at the palace, Val and Gawain tell of their adventures in the
Despite her official change of sex, Diane falls violently in love with
handsome, heroic Sir Gawain and begins to drive him crazy. Meanwhile,
young Tyrus of Naxos makes love to Aleta, hoping that Prince Valiant's
reckless love of adventure would soon leave the beautiful Queen a
widow. Hoping to hasten that event, Tyrus summons out of Naxos a great
champion, Bodex the Goth Warrior and Killer of Men, and he also hires
an African pirate to attack the Misty Isles. The pirate demands huge
tribute or trial by arms with his champion, hoping to lure and kill
Prince Valiant. Gawain demands the quest (mainly to flee from the
pesty Diane) and sails away for the distant island where the battle is
to take place. When the contest begins, Diane, who has stowed away on
the boat, watches closely and finds that the dueling ground has been
prepared to give the mighty Bodex an advantage. The skinny little girl
ends up helping the Iron Knight survive the long, terrible battle by
warning him whenever Bodex tries to maneuver him into one of the
prepared pitfalls. The duel is called at dusk because of darkness.
Val, finally discovering the plot, races away to help his friend. The
next morning, injured Bodex is unable to resume the duel and admits
defeat. Val's men round up the pirates and allow them to depart in
peace after they have been stripped of their weapons and clothing.
Tyrus makes a last feeble attempt to murder Val but is stopped by
Gawain and sent away with the pirates. The knights return with the
heroic little girl sent away with the pirates. The knights return with
the heroic little girl to the Misty Isles. Now that Gawain recognizes
her existence and even praises her, Diane loses interest in him and
returns to Arn and Paul and a more normal life of eating, fighting, and
getting into mischief, danger, and everyone's hair.
65) #932 (19 Dec 54) - 988(15 Jan 56) The Strange Route
Now that her kingdom is once more at peace, Queen Aleta turns to other
matters. Prince Valiant must return to the boisterous North, Prince
Arn must be trained for kingship, and Sir Gawain is creating havoc
among the ladies-in-waiting. The Queen tidies up the political affairs
of the Misty Isles and puts aside her crown to become once again a
dutiful wife and mother. The great Spring Festival (ca. 462) makes a
fitting end to their stay in the Misty Isles. They cannot return to
the Northlands across Europe because of the savage tribes from beyond
the Rhine and Danube over-running the land, and the sea route is ruled
out because of the fierce Corsairs dominating the Strait of Gibraltar.
Katwin suggests a route she once took from Constantinople to Scandia
over a river route through what is now Eastern Russia. The two great
ships are manned and filled with trade goods. The ships sail across
the Aegean and into the Bosporous to mighty Constantinople, new capitol
of the Roman Empire. The Vikings trade one of Aleta's sailing vessels
for a Viking longship. Katwin flirtatiously talks some Vikings into
joining the Northern voyage to replace Aleta's crew, who would probably
become homesick over the long voyage. They sail across the Black Sea
to Sevastopol in Crimea. There they stay two weeks trading for
supplies and recruiting guides and interpreters. At the mouth of the
Dnieper River, another light ship is obtained when Katwin works out a
trade with a Viking captain going in the opposite direction. On their
way up the river, Prince Valiant's ships are opposed at the first
rapids by the wild Patzinaks. Val's men distract a band of the men with
an onshore battle while the ships are safely guided over the rapids.
At the Great Falls where the ships must be dragged overland, the
plundering Patzinaks wait in full force. The Vikings win a terrible
battle and then force their prisoners of war help move one of the
("The Khan's Bride," #945-955: While Val and his men move all the gear
to the ship above the falls, the wild Patzinaks plunder the other ship
and kidnap Aleta. When the Northmen return and learn what happened,
they swear to find Aleta or die. Guided by a prisoner, Val and his men
march toward the city of the Khan, behind whose walls Aleta is
prisoner. Aleta, whom the great Dragda Khan plans to make his chief
wife, warns that her husband will come for her and lay waste the city.
Harem slaves assist Aleta to array herself for the wedding feast, and
although she knows Val will arrive, she brings her dagger, ready to
kill herself if Val does not come in time. Fighting for time, Aleta
talks the Khan into dancing wildly for her after he has stuffed himself
with food and drink. At the very moment that the fat Khan declares
Aleta his Queen, he falls dead (presumably of a heart attack).
Declaring herself Queen of the Patzinaks, Aleta tries to destroy their
unity and stall until Val and the Northmen hew their way into the city,
bringing flame and panic. Val and Gawain find hysterical Aleta after
two long days, loot the city and destroy it. They return to their
The journey northward up the Dnieper continues. Peace finally comes
when the Northmen leave the land of the Patzinaks and enter the country
of the Polotjans. Aleta insists on a stop at Kiev so she can get a
bath, have her hair done, and buy a new dress. The Vikings are forced
to leave when Val's warriors get bored and begin to disturb the peace.
After a few more days of sailing, the Patzinak captives are released
and allowed to return home, so that the Northmen can man the oars
during the difficult journey ahead. The food supply runs low, and Val
goes ashore to search for food. The hunt is a success, but Val returns
on a stretcher, his legs injured by the charge of a great bull auroch.
A great deal of meat is stored for the remainder of the trip. At last
the ships are brought safely up the Dnieper to the "Great Portage," a
terrible road over which the boats must be hauled to the Dvina River
(Comment: A mag explaining the route of the trip and thus clarifying
the story appears in page 938). Some native Polotjans are hired to
help with the work and supply oxen and wagons. Still too lame from his
accident to take part in the labor, Val watchers anxiously as the
overland traverse begins. Aleta eases the burden when she discovers
that the ships can easily be glided through the muddy swamps. Jan
Hedji, the new Polotjans' chief, tries to blackmail Val by insisting
that the fee for their help be doubled or else blackmail Val by
insisting that the fee for their help be doubled or else the Northmen
will be left stranded, but all he earns is distrust and a stern Viking
guard. When the greedy chieftain is killed by his men, the Vikings
help them finish the work of bringing the second ship safely over the
Portage. Now the worst of the journey is over. The voyage down the
Dvina to the Baltic Sea begins. The stream is turbulent and often the
ships have to be hauled around falls, but the warriors feel the call of
home and work with a will. Val, charting the river ahead of his ships,
meets a hostile group of Swedes seeking trade and plunder. Still weak
from his hunting accident, Val is beaten to his knees in the fight that
follows and is saved by Gawain and his men. The wounded val is brought
back to his ship to recuperate.
("The Story Teller," #972-980: Prince Arn is furious that his sire was
hurt by the Gotlanders and arms himself to seek revenge. Gawain
catches him and suggests he learn and practice more before he can be a
knight. The boy consults his father. To while away the long days of
his recovery, Val tells his children the story of his boyhood -- the
tales of his first horse, his first meeting with Gawain, his first
visit to Camelot and the quest to free the Maid Ilene's parents from
captivity (stories 3,4,5,7; the flashback sequence is illustrated
mostly with panels from the original 1937-1938 stories).)
When Val finally recovers he begins exercising himself and training Arn
for the future. Finally, the two treasure-laden ships reach the sea.
Before crossing the Baltic, the Vikings hold a great feast and carve a
rune stone to commemorate their Prince's accomplishments during this
adventurous voyage. Val's two ships are joined by three others
belonging to Irish raiders, forming so powerful a fleet that they are
able to sail the channel between Denmark and Scandia unmolested.
Gawain says he must return to Camelot and leaves with the Scotti
raiders. On the ship to Britain, Pierre discovers Jex, an old friend,
now a galley slave. He nobly buys his friend from the sailing master.
Gawain is now stuck with two bumbling servants but hasn't the heart to
let them go. They land safely at Britain. Val and his family sail
north up Trondheimfjord (Comment: Foster made a trip to Norway in 1955
and utilized sketches he made there in the scenes of the Thule coast in
page 987). Lonely Aguar happily greets his family, and the old castle
Vikingsholm soon takes on a more cheerful air.
66) #988(15 Jan 56) - 995(4 Mar 56) Into the Wilderness
The threat of hunger hovers over Thule. There is not enough farmland
on the coast to feed the population, and the Vikings are loath to leave
the sea and their boats to go inland. Prince Valiant sets out to
explore the hills and valleys of the interior in search of farmlands to
colonize. Val discovers enough farmland and grazing meadows to make
Thule a land of plenty. ("The Mountaineer," #990-994: Arn, who seems
to have left childhood and entered boyhood with a bang, decides to
climb a tall mountain deep in the heart of Thule. Garm the hunter
leads the excited boy up to the dark, icy peak. There they see a still
greater mountain, which makes Arn realize that no matter what one does
there is always something greater. Darkness falls, and Arn and Garm
are forced to spend a dangeroud night atop the freezing mountain.
Worried Val is proud when his weary son returns, speaking confidently
but also humbly.) Finally, Prince Valiant leads his party homeward to
report his discoveries. He has found many fertile valleys, but rods
must be built if they are to be farmed. Val returns to Aleta bemoaning
the inescapable realization that children must grow up.
Comment: More sketches from Foster's Norway vacation were used in this
story. Foster's family scenes and humble philosophy are consistently
charming and amusing.
67) #996(11 Mar 56) - 1006(20 May 56) The Wolf at the Door
Earl Jon (see also story 33), planning a great hunt, invites Val and
Aleta to visit his fief. Gundar Harl takes the royal family on the
short boatride to the next fjord. On the second day of the hunt, as
the men ride away, old Gunnar Freyssom leads a burly group of raiders
across the mountains to steal winter provisions from Earl Jon's nearby
fiefdom. Aleta, expecting a quiet, lazy afternoon, is surprised when
an ugly raider barges in on her bath. Hoping that the hunting party
will see and return, Aleta sets fire to the house. Gunnar, realizing
he has committed a crime against royalty, completes the raid, kills all
the witnesses, locks Aleta and Katwin in the burning house, and departs
with his loot. Frantic at the sight of smoke, Val and the other men
return to find fire and death everywhere in the house, except in the
watery trough where Val finds Aleta and Katwin. The other men are not
so fortunate. After putting out the fire, the angry men thirst for
revenge, but they don't know who the raiders were. Gundar Harl, who
saw the raid from his ship, helps Earl Jon identify the culprits. The
warriors sail to Gunnar's stronghold to await the raiders who are
returning by land. The tired miscreants submit without violence,
except for the cruel leader, whom Val is forced to kill. Val makes the
prisoners return all the plunder and help rebuild Earl Jon's home.
After rewarding Gundar Harl with Gunnar's fief, Val comes home to join
Aleta, who had earlier left the chaos at Earl Jon's.
68) #1006(20 May 56) - 1022(9 Sep 56) Survival
King Aguar, Val and Aleta reluctantly let Arn and Garm go to look for a
route for a road through the mountains to the rich farmlands in the
interior (see story 66). At first, the two surveyors meet with little
success, for every valley they explore ends in a wild chaos of cliffs
and tumbled stone. Climbing to the top of a large hill, Arn has a good
view of the countryside and finds a seeming gap in the mountains. Garm
leads him there, but they find only a chasm and roaring waterfall.
Following the stream, Arn finally stumbles upon a pass through which a
road can be built. Happily, Garm records the information. Suddenly, a
huge storm develops, and the life of a future King of Thule is in
Garm's hands. The hunter frantically looks for shelter, since it could
be fatal to get trapped by snow on this side of the mountains.
Wrapping the small prince beside the warm body of a slain deer, Barm
finds a sheltered nook and builds a makeshift shelter in which to spend
the night. Returning for Arn, Garm finds the Prince threatened by a
wolf pack, but the kind old hunter scares them off and carries the
freezing boy back to the hut, which soon becomes completely buried by
the snow. The two imprisoned travelers spend days preparing for the
return trip. When the storm ends, they dig out and start plowing
through the snow. It takes a day to cross the mountains and find a
forest where another night shelter can be built. The next morning the
two set off on ski-like snowshoes. Arn slips and falls under the snow
but is dug out by his trusty helper. Finally after one more night,
Garm and Arn reach their boat, which they had previously left at a
lake, and row back to Vikingsholm. Val and Aleta have been very
worried, and they are happy and relieved when their little boy
nonchalantly comes home to them. (Comment: Page 1017, which shows
Arn's parents anxiously waiting his return, is one of the most human,
touching scenes ever to be portrayed in comics; Val, the worried
father, poignantly realizes the grief he must have caused his own
father over the years.) Garm reports his findings to the King.
69) #1023(16 Sep 56) - 1029(28 Oct 56) Tournament Days
Winter (ca. 462-3 AD) settles over the northlands, and Aleta watches
Val's growing restlessness. Then Pentacost draws near, and at Camelot
King Arthur will hold the great Spring tournament soon. Val sails off.
Camelot is a gay place as the knights of the Round Table begin to
arrive. Gawain lustily greets his old squire. When the day of the
Grand Melee arrives, two lines of eager young warriors, one led by Sir
Launcelot and one by Mordred, face each other. Sir William Vernon of
Lydney, a mysterious white knight, receives the winner's chaplet from
the fair Guinevere and soon challenges Sir Valiant to a joust. The
opponents shatter three lances, but the white knight gets a splinter
stuck in his neck and falls. The match is called a draw. His shield
arm hurt, Val is soon eliminated from the tournament. The feast of
Pentacost ends the festivities.
70) #1029(28 Oct 56) - 1062(16 Jun 57) Trouble in Cornwall
King Arthur summons Prince Valiant for a special quest. He is told to
go to Cornwall secretly to find out if some rumors of treachery are
true (Comment: Val performed a similar mission in Cornwall a few years
earlier (story 58); the place seems a virtual hotbed of revolution!).
It seems that three kings there have suspiciously closed their borders
to Arthur's knights. William Vernon invites Val to ride home with him
to Lydney and take a ship for the rest of the way. Val becomes friends
with Alfred, a merry steward who is devoted to William.
("The Sacrifice," #1030-1038: When William arrives home, he finds his
father has died, and the young knight is now Lord of Vernon Castle.
William asks his neighbor Sir Berkeley for the hand of his daughter
Gwendolyn in marriage. Unfortunately, William's title to Vernon Castle
is clouded. He has a missing half-brother who, if he turns up before
William turns twenty, gets both the title and Gwendolyn. Meanwhile,
Alfred is summoned by his mother, an old witchwoman, who reveals to
Alfred and Val that she was the first wife of Lord Vernon, and thus
Alfred is the missing half-brother of William and heir to Vernon's
estates. Just before dying, she gives Alfred a yellowed parchment to
prove her story and his heritage. Alfred is confused and upset, not
knowing whether or not it would be right to claim the castle and the
the girl. When Val and Alfred return to the castle, a storm is
brewing, and the boat bringing Lord Berkeley and Gwendolyn for the
funeral is endangered. Only the two harbor beacons can bring the boat
safely into the proper spot on the jagged reef, but there is nothing
dry to light the beacons with. To save Gwendolyn's life, Alfred is
forced to set his priceless parchment on fire to light the beacons.
Sir Berkeley and his daughter land safely, but at a great price to
Alfred. Only Val knows the tragic, gallant sacrifice Alfred has made.
After the funeral, Alfred disappears. Val says his farewells and sails
away, but is surprised to find Alfred, a stowaway, who agrees to begin
a new life as Val's squire.)
Finally, Val sails to Cornwall to fulfill his quest. At Alfred's
suggestion Val cuts his hair and disguises himself as a middle-aged
palmer from the Holy Lands, one who would be assured a welcome
anywhere. Val rides brazenly to Launceston Castle and dines with the
suspicious King Durwin. While Val enthralls his hosts with true tales
of the Holy Land, Alfred finds out from the other servants that the
King is a traitor because of his fear of a mysterious threat from the
West. After defeating an overbearing leader of a band of plunderers,
Val reaches Restormel, the castle of the second Cornish king and spends
the night there. While there is little evidence of treachery at
Restormel, Alfred hears more tales of a madman ruling in the West.
Finally, Val and Alfred ride to the thired kingdom, that of Och Synwyn,
who turns out to be the root of the vast treachery. This monster plans
to move toward Camelot by land and sea after recruiting sufficient
strength. King Och forces Val to pledge loyalty to his evil cause or
else be tortured. Calling himself Sir Quintus, Val ruefully sacrifices
his honor by swearing fealty to the tyrant, who he secretly plans to
destroy. Slowly, Val develops a scheme. First, he convinces Och to
tax the loot of his raiders and to prevent the armies from scrounging
the fertile countryside. The many groups of raiders soon turn against
each other and Och because of Val's differential taxation and the
stories he spreads. The plunderers attack their one-time master's
castle. In the confusion Val frees all of Och's prisoners and torture
victims, who gleefully kill the King they hate. After burning the
prison and letting the armies run wild in the castle, Val destroys them
and restores the castle to the good people of Cornwall. His mission is
fulfilled, but Val is joyless because he feels he has practiced deceit
and lost his knightly honor. Val and Alfred sail to Bristol, buy
horses, and ride slowly back towards Camelot.
71) #1062(16 Jun 57) - 1074(8 Sep 57) The Red Stallion
Riding home near Stonehenge, Val and Alfred see a splendid stallion
and, thought it is apparently a man killer, Val decides to tame it.
After trying futilely all day to catch the horse, Val returns
apprehensively to Camelot. ("An Affair of Honor," #1064-1066: Val
informs King Arthur and the other knights of his recent adventure in
Cornwall and announces he must retire from the Fellowship of the Round
Table because of his loss of honor. Despite Arthur's contention that
Val actually increased his honor by completing the mission, the
stubborn young knight refuses to take his seat at the Round Table.
Annoyed, the King settles the matter by having all the other knights
pledge a fraction of their honor to their adamant compatriot. Touched,
Val takes his place and joins his friends in a lusty night-long siege.)
Returning to Stonehenge, Val learns from a Druid priestess how the wild
horse became a mankiller because of a brutal master. for an entire day
and night, Val and Alfred chase the stallion until it tires, and they
are able to tie it down to remove the painful bridle that reminds the
horse of its cruel past. Its wounds healed, the stallion finally
becomes tame and Val rides it. Returning to Camelot with his splendid
new mount, Val meets the son of the evil previous master of the
stallion who tries to kill the horse that killed his father. Val is
forced to joust against this man, Sador, who becomes mad with rage and
is easily vanquished. Val proudly takes full possession of his huge
red stallion and names it Arvak after the fiery horse that drew the
sun's chariot across the sky in Viking legend. (Comment: Arvak is to
be Val's warhorse for the next 22 years.)
72) #1075(15 Sep 57) - 1083(10 Nov 57) Three Men and a Horse
Not knowing that Alfred had taught it to do amusing tricks, Val tries
to unload a stupid old extra horse by selling it to an unsuspecting
barbarian. Halgar the Thunderer, the arrogant chieftain of the East
Saxons, takes Mayblossom and is surprised by the horse's antics and
lack of cooperation. When they realize what they have done, Val and
Alfred are amused but horrified, hoping they have not provoked a war
with East Saxony. Afraid of punishment, the two quickly leave Camelot,
ride to London, and take passage on a ship bound for Thule. They are
surprised to find the angry Halgar on board. Luckily, Val is cleverly
able to ease the dumb Saxon's anger and eliminate the possibility of
war. After a short shopping spree in London, Val sails home to Thule
and an ecstatic family, for he has been away from home for about a
Comment: In page 1013 we see that the twin baby girls are already
developing their own distinctive personalities. Karen is a bold,
demanding tomboy and Valeta is a sweet coquettish charmer.
73) #1084(17 Nov 57) - 1090(29 Dec 57) The Exchange
Long ago Val and King Hap-Atla of the Inner Lands had agreed to
temporarily exchange sons for training in accordance with old Viking
custom. Sadly, Arn says goodbye to his family and rides off. On the
way he meets Hap-Atla's son, Sven, who is on his way to live with
Prince Valiant. The two boys become fast friends, warn each other
about their respective mischievous sisters, exchange gifts, and ride on
to complete their trips. Arn soon arrives at his new home and is
greeted by his foster parents. He also meets Frytha, a sweet,
beautiful child who looks nothing like the monster she was reported to
be. Soon she reveals her devious nature with various pranks, but Arn
always gets even. Garm brings the dog Sir Gawain to the Inner Lands,
which makes Arn a little less homesick.
(Comment: Arn is to be away from home for the next three years, and
the story will return to him from time to time.)
74) #1091(1 Jan 58) - 20 Apr 58) The Wanderer
Every five years the "Council of Kings" meets at Bergan to adjust
boundaries, make alliances or renew hatreds. On the eve of the
Council, Aguar falls from his horse and is injured, so the King sends
his son instead. Val is happy to see Hap-Atla and Arn. At the
meetings Prince Valiant stands alone in his decision to avoid a ruinous
war. When Val leaves, Aguar's enemies follow his ship and attack at
Sognefjord. Val's small fleet avoids a battle and escapes safely at
first, but Val is left behind when his boat is wrecked on a jagged
rock. Not realizing that his men have vanquished the enemy, the
unarmed Prince runs away and sets off for Vikingsholm on foot. His
first obstacle is the great Jostedal Glacier, which proves very
difficult to cross. In the uncharted region behond, Val meets an old
Roman guarding a crumbling outpost, who does not realize Rome is
crumbling. Val does not bother to quell the blissfully ignorant man's
spirit by telling him the truth and soon resumes his journey. After
three weeks of endless struggle, Val comes to a fishing village and
asks for a position on a boat that will take him home. After a duel
with a violent sailor hamed Asgaard the Beserk, Val joins the crew of
Sigurd Rolf, the Sea King. Luckily, Sigurd's ship encounters a
dragonship of Thule, and Val is able to rejoin his father's army in the
battle which ensues. Val then recovers his `Singing Sword', which he
had lost in the sea battle at Sogenfjord, and finds that it had been
his own men, not enemies, that pursued him across the countryside
during the preceding weeks. Finally, Val returns to Aleta.
75) #1106(20 Apr 58) - 1133(26 Oct 58) Reckless Youth
Val and Aleta are summoned to Camelot for some business and some
pleasure. Aleta does not enjoy the trip, for Val neglects her and her
cabin is uncomfortable. Needing some new gowns to wear at court, the
Queen forces Gundar Harl to stop at London so that she can go on a
("The Monster Learns a Lesson," #1110-1113: Meanwhile, Arn is having
troubles of hiw own. Princess Frytha continually plots devilish
pranks. One time Frytha's mother, Queen Jan, accidentally becomes the
victim of a prank intended for Arn, and the "monster" is suitably
punished. The angry girl arranges for Arn, whom she blames for her
miseries, to be beaten by two other boys. The beating is more severe
than she had planned, and she becomes guilt-ridden. Realizing Frytha
has learned her lesson, Arn forgives her, and the two become friends.)
After leaving London, Val and Aleta stay for a night with a Roman
couple who ask Val to take their son, Claudius, as his squire.
Arriving at Camelot, Aleta becomes the highlight of the social season,
while Val gets down to business. King Arthur plans a campaign to
secure the Easstern marches of his realm, and Sir Valiant is the only
knight available to lead such a venture. Alfred, not an eager warrior,
stays behind, so Val takes along Claudius and another young knight-in-
training, Edwin. Val's forces scour the countryside in search of
hostile Saxons and come across a London-bound raiding party in Kent.
Though the knights win the short battle that follows, Val is forced to
chastise his young friend Edwin for his recklessness. Next comes a
successful but terrible battle with more Saxon warriors, in which Edwin
is captured, tortured, and killed. Mad with anger, Val slaughters the
remaining Saxons and, sick with horror, he throws his cruel sword into
the sea. Cleansing himself off in the cool waters, Val is confronted
by some scavengers who try to kill him in order to steal his valuables.
In helpless rage, Val dives to avoid their arrows, finds the `Singing
Sword' in the water, and returns to his troops. The warriors then
disperse the remaining Saxon invaders and warn them to become peaceful
settlers or face slavery or death. After the Eastward march is
concluded, the knights swing toward London and save the town from a
Danish battle party. At London the knights try to replenish their
supplies but are cheated by the merchants, and val ruthlessly threatens
to destroy the city if full reparations are not made. The transactions
are settled, and Val marches into Camelot with the returning heroes.
Sadly, Val gives the bad news to Edwin's mother and others, and he and
Arthur realize how tragic war can be. Aleta is relieved to see her
husband among the few men that return from their dirty business.
76) #1133(26 Oct 58) - 1137(23 Nov 58) The Jealousy of A Queen
Aleta is so popular in Camelot that Queen Guinevere becomes jeaslous.
The "Fairest Queen in Christendom" (who Foster draws amazingly
beautifully in this story) feels that Aleta is loved more than she.
Hoping to hurt Aleta and quell her popularity, the Queen holds a social
gathering to which Aleta is not invited, but she feels guilty
afterwards. When the cute twins, Karen and Valeta, mischievously run
into her chambers, childless Guinevere is charmed and touched. When
Aleta comes looking for her daughters in order to take them for a bath,
Guinevere asks to come along and help. The Queen enjoys playing with
the children and loses all enmity she felt towards Aleta.
77) #1137(23 Nov 58) - 1152(8 Mar 59) The Singer in the Tower
Val discovers that Gawain has vanished after leading knights into Wales
on a mission. King Arthur gives Val leave to go search for his friend.
Val and jolly Ivan Waldoc, who has been with Gawain as a guide, ride
into Wales. They ride first to the walled city of Caerwent. The
headman there reports that a wounded knight lies in Caerlon. There, at
an old Roman fortress, Val and Waldoc are disappointed to find that the
knight is not Gawain but Sir Beaton, who reports Gawain's last known
whereabouts -- the stone cross in the Black Mountains. At the cross
they meet Ruy the Jongleur, who suggests that Gawain might have gotten
involved with jealous King Oswick and his beautiful daughters. The boy
leads them to a place from which they can study the Castle Oswick and
form plans to find Gawain if he is there. That night, near an ancient
Celtic temple, the wizard Merlin Ambrosius appears, gives Val cryptic
advice on how to find and rescue Gawain, and then departs with Nimue,
the water maid. (Comment: Merlin, Arthur's advisor (story 4) and Val's
tutor (stories 8,23,37) appeared seemingly for the last time in page
#1141 (until a surprise recent appearance in page #2444 by Murphy),
being led away into limbo, as prophesized, by the nymph).
Unraveling the message, Val enters the castle as Cid, a wandering
entertainer. Oswick summons Cid to test his skills. Val passes the
test and explains that he had been a mercenary but had succumbed to
alcohol. Pretending to be drunk, he staggers out to search for Gawain.
When a distant voice joins in one of Cid's songs, Val realizes that
Gawain is held in a heavily-guarded tower. Sent to entertain Oswick's
daughters, Cid tells them fascinating tales of romantic Gawain.
Princess Wynn visits the knight, who makes love to her as per Val's
instructions. The strong-willed girl gets the key's impression in some
wet clay. Val retrieves the clay, fashions a key, and smuggles it to
Gawain. On a dark rainy night, a drunken Cid climbs the arm of a
construction crane near the tower and rescues Gawain, lowering him
unsteadily into the moat. Oswick conducts a search for his lost
prisoner, and Val frightens him with a suggestion that Gawain might
have escaped by witchcraft. Val convinces the superstitious king that
Gawain is invisible and a danger to Oswick, who decides to "lure" the
lurker out of the castle by returning his horse and sword and providing
rich gifts. Val is let out by the hoodwinked King to deliver the gifts
and merrily leads his friend away.
78) #1153(15 Mar 59) - 1162(17 May 59) Kerwin's Ordeal
At the temple ruins Cid and Gawain join Ruy and Sir Waldoc and Cid puts
off his rags and once again becomes Prince Valiant. They ride out of
Wales. At Caerlon they find Sir Beaton sufficiently recovered from his
woulds to ride. Here the group breaks up. Beaton, Waldoc and Ruy ride
to Camelot the easy way, but Gawain and Val take ship across the
Briston Channel to go by a more adventurous route. The two knights
become bored and decide to enter the Great Tournament at Hamlin Garde.
To compete against the common folk, Val and Gawain playfully change
their clothers and identities. Coth, a ruthless nobleman, gets into a
scrap with Val, who learns that the highlight of the tournament will be
a contest between Coth and a gentle lad named Kerwin for the hand of
fair Lady Alice. Gawain wins the palm of victory in the preliminary
contests. Coth hires an assassin to waylay Val, but the man botches
his job. Val tries to teach Kerwin, who resembles him, some battle
skills for the coming tournament. In the Grand Melee, Coth does well,
striking fighters whose backs are turned, and Kerwin survives using
Val's lessons. Coth asks a ruffian friend to challenge Kerwin to a
tilt to wear him down. Kerwin defeats the challenger but is wounded.
Gawain challenges Coth to a tilt to even the score and hurls him into
the dust. Val takes the injured Kerwin's place in the lists and
defeats Coth four times, winning the day for Kerwin. Val switches
places back with Kerwin, who is given knighthood and Alice's hand.
79) #1162(17 May 59) - 1174(9 Aug 59) The Marriage Contract
The tournaments at Hamlin Garde being over, Gawain and Val ride off on
the vast Salisbury Plain where they run out of provisions. After
living off the land for a few days, they reach the King's road and meet
a great lady with her servants. Gawain charms the Lady and gets a
dinner invitation to Ruthford Castle. Val meets two young sweethearts,
Joan (only child of the Count of Ruthford) and a tall squire. Joan is
heartbroken to learn that her father has arranged a political marriage
for her to Hume of Amesbridge, whom she has never met. The unhappy
couple elope and exchange marriage vows. Just as they try to depart,
the gates swing open to welcome Sir Hume. Joan is furious to learn
that her peasant lover is himself Sir Hume, who came in disguise to
check out the girl he was forced to marry. To maintain peace, Hume
renounces his title and becomes Sir Gawain's squire. Joan agrees
gleefully to go with him. Gawain is displeased but agrees to her plan
so that an official wedding can be held. After a week of festivities,
the party leaves. Joan is disillusioned by the miserable trip, and the
company arrives at Camelot. All her life Joan dreamed of seeing
Camelot but now all she sees of the fabled city is the stable area.
Aleta meets the girl, hears her story, and takes the couple to King
Arthur to straighten the mess out.
80) #1175(16 Aug 59) - 1187(8 Nov 59) The Earl's Justice
After spending a month with his family, Val is sent by King Arthur to
Lithway Forest to investigate outlaw trouble there. Val requests that
Hugh-the-Fox (see story 31B) come with him. The outlaws capture the
two and take them to their lair where they are treated with hatred.
The crippled chieftain sneers at the King's justice, shows Val men who
were maimed by the Earl of Lithway and denies the accusations of theft
of the King's tithes. Val and Hugh are released and go to Lithway
Garde. They are taken before the Earl, a large, florid man, who
insists his monies were stolen by the outlaws. Sir Holsing, the Earl's
neighbor, also claims to have been robbed in the forest by the outlaws,
although Hugh learns Holsig's men had returned to his castle with the
treasure due to the crown, falsely accusing the outlaws who were but
free men who fled to the forest to escape the cruelty of their masters.
Val and Hugh watch in helpless rage as the Earl dispenses his appalling
brand of justice. To search for evidencae, Val arms the outlaws and
brings them to the castle. They take over and Val prevents them from
killing the cruel Earl. When Holsig rides to Lithway, hoping to take
it over, Val and the outlaws invade his castle and find the supposedly
stolen strongbox there, too. The Earl of Lithway accompanies the group
to Camelot, confident he can talk his way out of trouble. When the
Earl appeals his case before the King, claiming he had punished the
outlaws justly, Val produces the stolen tithes at the crucial moment.
The King banishes the Earl from the realm (probably the earliest
recorded tax-evasion case in history!). Val celebrates with his
friends and neglects Aleta who gives her drunken husband a tongue-
81) #1187(8 Nov 59) - 1217(5 June 60) The Grail Quest
The Fellowship of the Round Table has brought a measure of peace and
justice to Britain, but each year lately sees more and more knights
take up the quest for the Holy Grail, and all too few of these brave
warriors return. The very existence of the fellowship is thus
threatened. King Arthur calls upon Prince Valiant to seek out the
facts, if the grail be fact of myth, for he knows Val will not be
swayed by unquestioning faith or superstition. Hurt and angry after
his fight with Aleta, Val accepts the mission. When Aleta learns of
Val's imminent departure for the new quest, she protests. He kisses
her and spanks her before he goes, leaving her in a daze.
His heart not in the mission, Val finds an old Roman road and rides to
the ruined city of Sarum. The historian of the city's archives reports
that the Roman records no longer exist and directs Val to Stonehenge,
where an ancient people live. There Val meets the priestess who had
helped him capture and tame Arvak a few years earlier (story 71). The
girl explains that her people, the Beaker Folk, had raised the temple
many years before the Druids took over. An ancient priest tells Val
that when the Christians came across the sea to Britain four centuries
earlier, led by Christ's disciple Joseph of Arimathea, they had
reportedly built their first church on an island called Avalon and
placed there a symbolic dish or chalice that they thought holy because
of its legendary use by Christ at the Last Supper. That church, if it
could be found, might have the records Val sought.
Riding westward over the Mendip Hills, Val is led by Sir Tyndal to Och,
an escaped slave who disguises himself as an ogre to avoid recapture by
his cruel master, Timmera the Terrible. Och leads Val to Avalon, near
which the slave was born. At Gastonbury, a friar shows Val the first
Christian church, which is now being enclosed by a great cathedral
under the supervision of a Prior from Rome. The Prior fefuses to
answer Val''s questions about the Grail. Pondering his failure at the
top of Avalon's mountain, The Tor, Val sees in the distance armed men
approaching Glastonbury, arms himself, and joins the townspeople
against Timmera the Terrible, who has long wanted to plunder the
island. After being beaten, the furious raiders burn the half-built
Abbey. Timmera escapes, but Val ruthlessly follows. Made reckless by
fear, Timmera accidentally plunges into fog-filled Cheddar Gorge. Och
at last has his freedom, and he helps Val conquer the late Timmera's
stronghold and take back treasure enough to rebuild the Abbey.
Work resumes on the Abbey after the battle, under the supervision of
Bishop Patrick, who had saved Val's life when he fought King Rory
McColm of Ireland (see story 59). Father Patrick, Val realizes, is the
only man who can give him the true facts of the Grail. They speak
alone at the top of the windy Tor,and Val is convinced that there is no
proof that the chalice ever existed. He realizes however, that the
Grail is a valuable symbol of faith, courage and hope. The knights who
take the Quest do more by their example to spread the faith of
Christianity than anyone could do by preaching. Val lingers on in
Glastonbury for a few days to help Patrick with the plans for the new
Abbey and then leaves Avalon.
("The Tyrant," #1210-1216: Riding home along the lonely King's
Highway, Val comes to a great castle that promises warmth and shelter.
The portals that should have opened in hospitality instead yield forth
a huge armed knight who without a word of warning sets his lance and
charges Val. After defeating the champion, Val is welcomed into the
castle with loud cheering and learns that the challenger, Hugo Ap
Dunfel, was a murderous tyrant who plagued the widow Lady Lowry, who
had been forced to flee for help with her daughters. She soon returns
from Camelot with a now unnecessary champion -- Sir Gawain -- who is
annoyed that Val had spoiled his chance to perform gallantly before the
ladies. A good dinner restores everyone's spirits. When Ap Dunfel
recovers from his wounds he is to be taken to Camelot for judgement but
is found stabbed.)
With heavy heart, Val goes to the King to report the results of his
quest. Arthur is told that there is no evidence of the Grail's
existence, but the King decides not to interfere with faith, leaving
the future fate of the Fellowship to a higher power.
(Comment: This story is the only Prince Valiant tale concerning the
Holy Grail, the most famous of the Arthurian myths. Sir Galahad, the
most famous knight who took up this quest in legends, is never
mentioned. Foster notes in page #1205 that the background material was
taken from sketches he made during a 1959 vacation in Britain.)
82) #1217(5 June 60) - 1225(31 Jul 60) The Mad Warrior
After months of anticipation, Val returns to Aleta. They nervously
face each other in silence, neither able to make a move. Inadvertently
hurt again, Val turns coldly away. Aleta is devastated. Numb with
pain, Val thunders eastward to join the army and find relief in
warfare. The knights are fighting off Saxon invaders (as usual). Val
recklessly leads a raid on the Saxon treasure ships and then launces
pursuit of the enemies who escaped. After many successful raids Val
tries to storm a fortified posititon, and he is wounded. Arthur
summons Aleta, tells her Val has fallen in battle and lost the will to
live, and orders her to go to her husband. The lovers are reunited and
misunderstandings are resolved. Aleta takes charge of the care of her
husband. Katwin and the twins arrive at the camp, and Val's condition
improves rapidly in the homelike atmosphere.
83) #1225(31 Jul 60) - 1249 (15 Jan 61) The Abdication
Aleta had recently been summoned back to the Misty Isles because of
affairs of state in her kingdom. Aleta prepares for the journey asking
for Gundar Harl's and Boltar's ships. Garm the forester travels to the
Inner Lands to retrieve Prince Arn, who has been training at King Hap
Atla's stronghold (since story #73). Arn and Garm follow the long
trail back to Thule, exploring the subtle mysteries of the forests.
They weather the first storm of winter (ca. 466) and finally arrive at
Vikingsholm. Arn sails to Britain on Gundar's ship and gets seasick.
Meanwhile, Val has at last recovered enough to be moved back to Camelot
on a horse litter. He and Aleta argue over their son's future -- he is
heir to thrones of both Thule and the Misty Isles. Arn arrives, and
the family has a happy reuinion. Val agrees to accompany Aleta back to
the Misty Isles, where Arn's destiny will be settled. They leave in
Gundar Harl's ship and meet Boltar at Gibraltar. Arn decides to travel
with Boltar in order to learn the ways of fighting men.
Off the Algerian coast, the ships succumb to the heat and pull into a
harbor for water. Boltar asks the port Governor for permission to fill
his casks at the town fountain but is enraged to return to find his
ships have been attacked by waterfront gangs. Arrangements and
restitution are furiously completed. Restocked, the Vikings sail on,
with Arn disturbed by the memory of the battle, in which he thinks his
arrows may have killed a man.
At last, the ships arrive at the Misty Isles, and the Queen is received
by her cheering people. Prince Arn, the heir apparent to the throne,
receives even greater attention. Aleta is disturbed to find her rich,
peaceful kingdom has become too weak, a potential target for envious
neighbors (Note: Last time (story 61), the kingdom was becoming too
strong and warlike; the woman is never satisfied). She holds a
conference with Val, Boltar and Gundar. Thrasos, a neighbor to the
west, is the immediate threat. He is invited to help the Misty Isles
build fortifications, and the oily rascal gloats over the opportunity
to place his best soldiers in the city as workmen. Thrasos' arriving
ships are found to contain arms so the "laborers" are jailed. Thrasos
is angry but his spies find a flaw in the defenses. Thrasos arranges
an attack on the unfinished harbor wall, but the defenses are ready.
When the invaders sail into the harbor, chains are raised behind them
and a rolling gate of timbers blocks the hole in the wall. The
invaders surrender under the threat of being burned in the trap.
Thrasos brings a reserve fleet into a nearby cove, and the Viking
warriors are unable to defend the Queen's palace. Thrasos finds his
way into Aleta's room, and Val prevents him from stabbing her at the
last second. Aleta faints and Val goes after Thrasos. After a
grueling chase in a storm, Thrasos tries to hide in a blackened tree
stump but dies horribly when lightning strikes the tree.
With Thrasos out of the picture, Val returns to the palace to see how
Aleta is. He is first barred from seeing her, and when he finally is
let into Aleta's rooms he discovers that she has given birth to a baby
boy.! (Foster had concealed Aleta's pregnancy with flowing robes).
Arn decides to abdicate his position as heir to the Misty Isles in
favor of his new baby brother.
84) #1249(15 Jan 61) - 1259(26 Mar 61) Kidnapped
Arn spends some time with his old friends Paul and Diane (see story
#64) at the seashore. The prisoners of war (from story 83), working on
completing the fortifications of the Misty Isles, revolt. Some escape,
steal a boat, and capture Arn, Paul and Diane. Arn is to be held for
ransom and the other two will be sold as slaves. Val finds out about
the missing boat and prisoners and has Gundar Harl ready a ship. A
clue is left when the escapees kill some fishermen for supplies. Arn
escapes from the boat when it docks at a Mediterranean city and runs to
the governor's palace for help. Paul and Diane are beaten and sold to
a buyer from North America. The dishonest governor sees Arn as a good
source of profit and sends a ransom message to Val. Furious, Val
storms the palace, rescues his son, and captures the abductors. He
pursues the slave ship and swaps the other children for the kidnappers.
85) #1260(2 Apr 61) - 1263(23 Apr 61) The New Era
Aleta, who has been beset with problems of state, collapses from
exhaustion. A peaceful era returns to the Misty Isles. Paul, Arn and
Diane mature. A gala christening is held and the new child is named
Galan. Val takes over Arn's training.
86) #1263(23 Apr 61) - 1292(12 Nov 61) The Business Trip
Val and Arn rescue the survivors of a shipwreck near the harbor the the
Misty Isles. The leader, Sir Owen of Lothian, says they are pilgrims
bound for the Holy Land and requests help. Val and Arn decide to sail
along to Jaffa as Aleta's ambassadors to promote trade with the Misty
Isles. They land in Jaffa and go to Jerusalem, where the pilgrims
begin to alienate people by their fanatacism. Val takes Arn on a tour
of the Holy City and the Dead Sea. Near the River Jordan, Val
purchases a slave, Ohmed, who proves to be a valuable asset as an
interpreter. At Damascus, Val hires Nicilos the Greek as a business
manager to help in dealing with the local merchants. Val's caravan
travels past Aleppo (Northern Syria).
Meanwhile, a young girl named Taloon has been cast out of her tribe and
has joined up with a caravan bound for Persia. Past Aleppo, and near
the Euphrates, Arn stops to explore an ancient ruin on a mountainside
and oversees mountain men setting up an attack on Taloon's caravan. He
warns his father, who comes and battles the men with his sword as Arn
picks some off with his bow and arrows. Val's caravan next reaches the
city of Baghdad in Babylonia. Ohmed yearns to return to the nearby
village where he had grown up and been captured as a slave, so Val sets
him free. As Val and Arn sightsee in Babylon, Ohmed goes home and
finds his village in ruins. Meanwhile, the girl Taloon had been
sexually assaulted by one of the guards of her caravan and so had
killed him and joined a different caravan. There she was ridiculed by
the Zoroastrians for worshipping water, so she rode westward to Baghdad
alone. There, she tries to raise money by selling some of her
possessions. Val meets the girl, buys a saddle from her, and they
share an evening meal. Taloon falls in love with the kind Prince. Val
hires her to care for his baggage animals. Ohmed and Nicilos both are
attracted to Taloon but are rebuffed. Filled with jealousy, Nicilos
talks Ohmed into stabbing Val while he sleeps. Ohmed does succeed in
wounding Val, but Taloon bursts in at the right moment, kills Ohmed,
and rides away. Val is taken to the home of a nearby wealthy merchant
to recuperate and Nicilos rides off into the desert to find Taloon. He
confronts her, reassures her Val is still alive, and tells her he loves
her. Low-lying clouds conceal the ending of this interlude (!).
When Val feels better, he resumes the journey on camel. He and Arn
arrive at Deir El Zor where Val had once been a captive and meet his
former owner Belchad Abu (see story #18). Abu recognizes and fears Val
and offers his hospitality. Arn is amused by the stories of how Val
had been Abu's slave and had flirted with daughter Bernice in order to
gain freedom (2 panels from the 1941 story are reprinted). Poor
Bernice throws herself at Val and her heart is again broken by his
hasty departure. Arn is given a Damascus sword as an incentive not to
tell Aleta about the incident.
One night soon thereafter, Alimann the cruel, who has raided a nearby
village, invites Val's caravan to stay over, hoping for protection from
counter-attacks. When Val leaves, Alimann escapes too by hiding in the
baggage as a stowaway. When Alimann is found, Val sends him home, but
Alimann is upset to find that in his absence the desert tribe whose
village he had raided has taken over his stronghold. Val returns to
Aleppo, where he receives letters from Aleta declaring the trading
venture a success and instructing him to come home with Boltar, whose
ships wait at Antioch.
87) #1293(19 Nov 61) - 1302(21 Jan 62) Rome
Returning to the Misty Isles, Val enjoys his family for a while. A
ship from Camelot arrives with a request from King Arthur that Val go
to Rome to ask the Emperor to help in opening the road through Gaul.
Aleta and Arn come along on the trip. They arrive in Rome and find it
is in sad shape. (Historical note: It is now roughly 468 AD. Rome had
been sacked in 455 AD (story 30), and the fall of the Empire is now
nearly complete. Odoacer, the German chieftain, will overthrow the
last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, at Ravenna in 476.)
Val sets out to find the emperor and is told it might be helpful to
hold a banquet for government officials. Meanwhile, Arn tours the
city, watching the barbarians destroy great monuments. Behind a garden
wall, Arn meets an ill, partially blind little girl who livers in her
own fantasy world. Her father, Marcus Severis, learns of Val's mission
and offers help. Arn returns in time for the banquet, which is not
successful, and brings his father back to Marcus Severis' villa.
Severis advises Val that his hope for aid from Rome is futile, since
Rome can no longer even protect its own walls. Arn says farewell to
the blind girl, and Val says farewell to Rome for the last time
(indeed, this is the last time that the fabled city is even referred to
by Foster in the strip).
88) #1303(28 Jan 62) - 1327(8 Jul 62) The Overland Trade Route
Leaving Italy, Val decides to explore an overland route to Britain for
trade. He takes Arn with him. They land north of Spain (i.e. in south
France) and are told there is a road in the south of Gaul which would
be a good place to start. An ex-soldier named Justin, whose village
has been destroyed, join'g Val's group and volunteers to lead them
("The Mysterious Ruin," #1305-1312: The path through a seemingly
peaceful valley is blocked with giant, monstrous plaster figures
designed to scare away intruders. The group stops at a ruined
monastary and are greeted by the Abbot, who explains he had intended
the monsters to keep barbarians away. But now the Goths have found the
path and are coming. The abbott and Brother John, a sculptor, make
preparations for the attack. When the vandals enter, they encounter a
(wooden) dragon spewing smoke and flee.)
Stephen, a young lad, leads Val's group away from the hidden valley.
At Aqueloen, Stephen stops to see his mother, explaining how his uncle,
Sadonick, rules there in the place rightly Stephen's. ("The Duke,"
#1313-1323: Val and Arn meet this Duke, who is mad with power and with
fear of Stephen. Sadonick holds Arn hostage and orders Val to decoy
Stephen into an ambush. Luckily Justin has escaped and warns Stephen,
who decides to trick Sadonick in return, using the Duke's spy system to
get word back that Stephen and his mother are going away to their
hunting lodge. Val is forced to go with Sadonick's armed men to the
lodge. The Duke bursts in and orders Val to kill Stephen. Val refuses
and the Stephen's own hidden men come forth. Val races back to
Aqueloen, tosses his reins to a stable boy, and enters the castle in
search of Arn. The torturers claim Arn has disappeared. After a
search, Val finds that his son was the dirty-faced stable boy.
Sadonick is beheaded and Stephen becomes Duke.)
Justin decides to return to the monastary to become Brother John's
assistant. Val and Arn continue their travels west to the sea and are
forced to conclude that there is no safe overland route through to
Britain. They find Aleta swimming in the Bay of Biscay (with a jealous
otter who steals one of Aleta's jewels, bites Val, and presents the
jewel to the first female otter who comes along ("Mr. Whiskers," #1324-
1326).) Boltar escorts the royal family to Camelot, where Val makes
his report to King Arthur.
89) #1329(29 Jul 62) - 1331(12 Aug 62) Arvak the Wild
When Val arrives home, he learns his warhorse Arvak has reverted to the
wild state and won't let anyone near him. Arvak recalls his happy and
unhappy relationships with humans in page 1330, which reprints several
1957 panels (Story 71). Val lures Arvak with oatcakes, bad memories
vanish, and Arvak is re-tamed.
90) #1328(22 Jul 62) - 1342(28 Oct 62) The Voice
On the way to Camelot from Gaul (story 88), Boltar's ship had stopped
at a monastary to get supplies, and the Abbot had convinced Val and
Boltar to transport a powerful-voiced monk named Wojan to Britain to
fulfill a religious mission. Wojan begins preaching in Camelot and
distracts the workers from their duties. Arthur asks Val to observe
this monk, and Val finds him to be honest but naive. Wojan hopes to
build a cathedral, and his assistants Sleath and Dustad gather money
for themselves from the audiences under this pretense. With Arthur's
assistance Wojan leaves Camelot, followed by a throng of zealots, to
preach in the country. The followers become hungry and undisciplined
and begin to pillage the land, and Sleath and Dustad grow rich
profiting on misery and selling protection to villages. Val brings the
Abbot out of Brittany to help with the situation and has King Arthur
send provisions. The Abbot tells the unsuspecting monk what had been
going on and suggests that Wojan take the money his aides had gathered
to build his cathedral. The two advisors and their henchmen try to
guard their treasure wagon, but Val and Wojan capture the loot. Sleath
and Dustad are sent away, with their greedy followers, and the building
of the church begins.
("Memories of the Past," #1342-50: Aleta, who has been lonely, joins
her husband at the church construction site. As the work continues,
Val points out the nearby Fens, where he spent his boyhood, to Arn.
Val tells of his early life in the marshes (several drawings from the
early 1937 pages are reproduced and noted by the artist). Arn deacides
he'd like to explore the place and becomes lost for two days in the
channels. Arn's worried father comes into the swamps and finds the boy
just as h e is about to be attacked by the lurking Thorg, Val's old
friend/enemy (from story 2).)
The Abbot asks Val to take the treasures with him to Camelot. Val
agrees and leaves by a sea route. One of the ship's passengers,
Ethwald the businessman, covets the treasure. When the ship stops for
water, he offers to take Arn hunting but instead kidnaps the boy and
holds him for ransom. Val refuses to hand over the treasure chest.
Aleta comes up with a brilliant idea and brews a harmless potion. When
Val meets again with Ethwald, Val pours the brew into Ethwald's cup.
When Ethwald sees crystals in his goblet, he assumes he has been
poisoned. Frantic, he agrees to turn over Arn in return for an
"antidote." He is given a useless rancid substance (as a punishment).
Ethwald is taken back to Camelot to be tried. Val is hailed there as a
(Comment: Foster overused trickery as a plot device. In so
many stories Val gets out of a mess by deceiving and tricking his
enemies. No one could be that clever! In the real Dark Ages, brute
force was probably the answer to most every problem....)
91) #1357(10 Feb 63) - 1374(9 Jun 63) War Clouds
Rumors of war are heard from the north, so a war council is held.
Cidwic, a new king of North Wales, longs to conquer the city of
Carlisle to enlist Picts and Caledonians in order to conquer Britain.
Arthur sends Sir Kay to the beleaguered city. Sir Kay builds a wall
around Cidwic's stronghold while Cidwic attacks Carlisle. The city
resists the siege. Val selects a troop of messengers to ride to the
site of the action and keep King Arthur posted. As Cidwic's army at
Carlisle deserts, he retreats to his stronghold. Val's troop rides to
help at Sir Kay's outpost. Arn, who had been a chosen rider, carries
the message of the turnabout back to the King and returns to Kay's
base, which is now besieged by Cidwic. Desperate for victory, Cidwic
challenges Prince Valiant to a one-on-one duel. Arn, who had been
observing Cidwic, tells his exhausted father about some weak points he
had noticed in Cidwic's battle technique, and Val now topples the King
easily. With Cidwic's death the enemy is driven back. Arthur enters
and chides Val about spoiling the fight for his knights.
Cuddock, 12 year old son of Cidwic, is crowned King of Wales and
becomes friends with Arn. Ruddah, Cidwic's brother, wants to eliminate
his nephew and seize power for himself. Rudday steals Arn's arrows to
kill Cuddock and blame the Prince. When the boys go rabbit hunting,
Ruddah lies in wait and fires one of Arn's arrows. Arn luckily hears a
suspicious sound and kicks Cuddock out of the way of the shot. Arn
fires his bow at the retreating assailant and wounds Ruddah. Arn
discovers that his own arrow had been fired, and simultaneously at the
stronghold Ruddah is found to have stolen arrows in his quiver. When
the knights go to summon the suspected Ruddah for a trial, he flees the
castle. Arn takes on the task of bringing him to justice. With two
warriors he pursues him to the sea where the villain kills a lone
fisherman, steals a boat, and is smashed to pieces in the swift
currents. Val is proud that his son has single-handedly carried a
quest through to completion.
92) #1375(16 Jun 63) - 1383(11 Aug 63) The Rustic Knights
It is August (ca. 469 AD) when Val and Arn leave for Camelot. It is the
season of Pentecost, when many knights travel the roads from one
tournament to another. Arn and his father stop at such a tournament,
where young knights such as Boswell Farnway and Chetworth Billingford
are gathering, hoping to win fame and fortune. In their first match,
Bo and Chet lose their armor to Sir Plumpet, a tricky old knight, and
later try to steal it back. In calling for redress, Sir Plumpet is
given the two men as servants to work out their misdeed and debts.
Plumpet soon loses his armor in the jousts, and Val buys his tent and
servants. The three decide to take in one more tournament at King
Kadonoc's castle. Val takes part in the grand melee there and is
challenged by Irish Knight Rory MacAin. Rory is unhorsed, and Bo and
Chet strip him of his armor so that Chet can enter the joust. Angry,
Val challenges Chet to cure him of his habit of borrowing other
people's things. Chet is of course beaten and thrown into the dungeon,
but Val feels sorry for him and arranges his release.
93) #1384(18 Aug 63) - 1393(20 Oct 63) Seeds of Revolt
Finally arriving back at Camelot, Sir Valiant and his stalwart son pay
homage to their King. The dignity of the occasion is disrupted by the
gleeful greetings of Val's twin daughters. Aleta leads her family out
of the palace to a new home she has bought in the outskirsts of town.
Arvak is left at the horse runs where he can become the king and
protector of his splendid brood of colts. A very serious Sir Gawain
takes Val to a meeting at which Mordred is trying to convince a group
of young knights to rebel against King Arthur and his restrictive laws.
Val's simple, honest rebuttals undo all of Mordred's efforts, and after
the meeting an angry Mordred plots with his half-brothers -- Gawain,
Gareth, Geharis, and Agravaine, sons of King Lot -- to hurt Arthur
though Guinevere, Launcelot, Val and Aleta. Gawain cryptically warns
his friends to be alert, torn between his fierce clan-loylty and his
oath to King Arthur. After a private dinner party including the King
and Queen and Val's family, the King's ambitious, devious son tricks
Launcelot and Aleta into locking themselves in Guinevere's private
garden. Mordred hopes that they will be discovered alone together,
Guinevere will become jealous, and the scandal will destroy the unity
of the Fellowship. (Comment: This is one of the few times that Foster
alludes to the famous romance between Launcelot and Guinevere, which in
legend indeed later led to the downfall of Camelot). Luckily, Val and
Arn find Aleta and Launcelot and wait with them until the next morning,
when Mordred barges in and finds his plot to cause jealousy foiled.
Fearing Val's anger, cowardly Mordred rides off to his home in Lothian,
there to continue his scheming to gain the crown.
94) #1393(20 Oct 63) - 1403(29 Dec 63) Saxons in the Vale
Mordred has sent ominous news to Camelot: while riding Northwest
toward his home, he saw a Saxon war band encamped near White Horse
Vale. Arthur decides to send a scouting party, composed of three young
knights who wish to distinguish themselves, to find out what the Saxons
are up to now. Arn is chosen to participate because of his fine
actions during the North Wales campaign (story #91). The war band has
moved, but the three young knights find them, observe from afar, and
send a messenger to bring the information back to Camelot. In order to
discover whether these be East Saxons or West Saxons, Arn and young
Owen sneak up to get a better look. Hot-headed, reckless Owen, eager
to win his first taste of personal glory, attacks a sentry and runs
off, frightened, with the two horses. Trapped, Arn thinks quickly and
boldly enters the camp, pretending to be the son of Boltar, claiming to
have escaped from the Britons and to be eager to return to his father's
ship. Owen returns to Camelot and tearfully tells Arn's parents what
happened, and Val frantically rides from the palace. Owen guides Val
to the Saxons. Not knowing of Arn's deception, Val worries that his
boy has been tortured or has turned traitor, for Arn is seen to be
leading the scouting party westward toward the heartland of Britain!
During a hunt, Arn is able to quickly get to his father, explain that
he is spying on the Saxons, plan a future escape, and return unnoticed
to his captors. Later, Arn leaves the camp with a small scouting
group. Val, as arranged, is waiting to kill the group and leave
indications that Arn was also killed. The Saxons are fooled. Arn and
Val ride quickly back to Camelot to inform King Arthur that the raiders
are preparing for one great campaign to conquer all Britain. While
Arthur presumably makes the necessary arrangements, Arn impatiently
rushes home to his mother.
95) #1404(5 Jan 64) - 1417(5 Apr 64) Another Abduction
Sir Brecey of Brittany, a distinguished guest at Camelot, lusts after
Aleta and arranges for Val to die in the great Spring tournament.
Slyly, he befriends the golden Queen, complaining of loneliness. Hugo,
Brecey's menacing cousin, tries to cripple Arvak in order to remove
Val's fighting advantage, but he fails. Near the end of the
tournament, Hugo the manslayer challenges the weary Sir Valiant to
mortal combat. Count Brecey looks on eagerly, while Aleta and King
Arthur watch anxiously. Although Hugo's strength is an advantage,
Val's great horse Arvak enables him to avoid Hugo's attacks. Realizing
that Hugo is the one who had tried to hurt his warhorse, Val angrily
brings the fight to its end after an hour of exhausting battle.
Launcelot and Gawain retire from the tournament, and for the first time
since he came to Camelot, Val is crowned Grand Champion. Aleta,
relieved and proud, is kidnapped by the frustrated Count Brecey.
Wearily and angrily, Val and Arn follow and rescue Aleta. Brecey,
Ambassador of King Ban of Brittany, father of Launcelot, demands a
trial. Unfortunately for him, the result is that the egotistical,
greedy Count is substituted for a useful soldier who was to be executed
for his behavior in a tavern brawl.
(Comment: This is another one of the large numbers of "rescuing Aleta
from lustful kidnappers" stories. Foster overused this theme, but it
obviously must be nearly impossible to write hundreds of completely
original stories, especially in a strip created by someone who was
originally and primarily an artist rather than a writer. Of course,
the average reading public would not remember similar stories from year
to year. Interestingly, Foster has been quoted as saying that he
indeed found it difficult to continually come up with worthwhile
stories to accompany his invariably excellent pictures
96) #1417(5 Apr 64) - 1436(16 Aug 64) The Battle of Badon Hill
Early in summer (ca. 469), waves of invaders start gathering at the
shores of Britain in order to aid the new Saxon conquest attempt.
Arthur is upset that the remnants of defeated armies, whom he had
allowed to remain in peace, hoping they would become useful citizens,
are beginning to join the uprising. The king sends his knights to call
in all debts and levies. Arn is sent to North Wales to ask his friend,
young King Cuddock, to repay Arn's past favors (see story 91), while
Sirs Gawain and Valiant are sent westward to Cornwall to ask its three
kings for the troops they had once promised when they swore the oath of
fealty (story 70).
In Cornwall, Val and Gawain find that each of the Kings distrusts the
others and keeps a great army for protection, meaning they would not be
likely to lend forces to Arthur. King Grudemede of Caerloch at first
offers only 20 well-armed men, due to the malevolent advice of his
advisor, Givric, a former servant of Merlin and cheap trickster. Val
knows better tricks and soon convinces Grudemede to supply 300 men, on
the promise that Val take an equal number away from the other Cornish
Kings. Next comes a visit with King Alrick the Fat, whose stubbornness
annoys Val, who decides that a truce between the Kings of Cornwall must
be arranged, at least until the Saxon war is over. Gawain, through
eloquent flattery and promises, convinces Alrick's Queen to make her
husband give Arthur the troops, while Val rides westward to meet the
third King, Harloch, a benevolent old man who cooperates promptly by
supplying a small group of excellent soldiers. Val then gathers the
three kings together, convinces them to sign a treaty guaranteeing
temporary peace in Cornwall, and starts training his ragged bunch of
Meanwhilee, Arn finds his friend Cuddock of Wales fretting over Saxon-
encouraged Scotti raids. Time is drawing close, and Arn needs to bring
back as many troops as possible, immediately. Cuddock, hesitant to
weaken his own defenses, agrees to supply at least a small army and
rides with Arn towards the battleground at Badon Hill (recall that Arn
had shown the Saxons their route in story 94 and had informed Arthur of
all their plans). Arthur's small but proud army begins the defense of
Britain against the savage horde of Saxons. At the peak of the battle,
Arthur's forces have great trouble, and only the last minute arrival of
Prince Arn with King Cuddock and his army enables the knights to sway
the tide of the battle and demolish the Saxons. Hengist, leader of the
barbarians, escapes, his power broken, and many years will pass before
the Saxons mount another invasion.
(Comment: The victory of Mount Badon, probably a real event, was the
legendary King Arthur's greatest triumph. It was the last of about 12
Saxon invasions that Arthur prevented and probably took place in about
AD 510 or 520 (although here it is placed in about AD 469). In legend,
Arthur thereafter reigned in comparative peace for another 30 years,
until one of evil Mordred's revolts led to his death.)
97) #1435(9 Aug 64) - 1442(27 Sept 64) The Matchmakers
Prince Charles, son of King Harloch of Cornwall, is knighted for his
honorable performance in the Battle of Badon Hill, and Prince Valiant
brings the proud youth home with him. Aleta decides that Charles would
be an excellent catch for her fair young ward, Ailianora, while Queen
Gayle, wife of Alrick and visitor to Camelot, hopes to nab Charles for
her niece, Grace. The two young girls spend weeks vying for his
attention, and the twins imitate what they see by torturing another
guest, Cuddock. Charles, becoming conceited, shocks everyone by
suddenly falling in love with a homely peasant girl and proceeding to
marry her. Grace and Ailianora at first have broken hearts but soon
forget their sorrows.
98) #1442(27 Sept 64) - 1455(27 Dec 64) Guerilla War in Thule
It will never be known exactly what happened next to Sir Charles,
Grace, Ailianora, and the rest, for it seems that one of the ancient
scrolls upon which the saga of Prince Valiant is written is crumbled
and illegible (!). As far as Mr. Foster can tell, the next known
location of Prince Valiant and his family was on Boltar's great dragon
ship, heading north bound for Thule. At Bergen, Val learns that
hostile armies are approaching Trondheimfjord by land and sea. Boltar
takes the royal family onward, while Val and a scout sail inland to
investigate. The two are joined by Aguar's huntsman, Garm, former
teacher of Prince Arn. Val tries to raise an army of his own to resist
the forces of the mad Skogul Oderson and after first encountering
resistance, gathers support among refugees of Oderson's raids. Val
washes out the raiders with waters from a makeshift dam when he
encounters the raiders at a farm. Oderson and his remaining men press
on to Vikingsholm, destroying everything as they pass. Val recruits
and equips an army with weapons of the drowned raiders. Another small
band coming down the river is destroyed by a huge pile of timber
released by Val and Garm, who mingle with and destroy yet another band
in the forest. As Skogul calls his remaining band together for the
final march on Vikingsholm, Val rushes to warn the King. On the way
Val and the scouts contrive signs of the path of a monster and build a
huge painted wooden dragon, hoping to frighten the superstitious
brutes. By the time Val trots wearily into Vikingsholm, the conquering
horde has become a fear-stricken mob. Beserk and drugged, Skogul falls
into a river and drowns, and his army scatters. Aguar's armies find no
one to battle. Boltar's navy handles the seaborne invading forces, and
another short episode of peace comes to wartorn Thule.
99) #1455(27 Dec 64) - 1532(19 June 66) Arn in The New World
About 15 years earlier (strip-time), Aleta had promised the Indians of
America that one day her son would return to bring greatness to the
Algonquin tribe (see story #34). Arn decides to return alone to
fulfill the promise. Gundar Harl prepares a ship but has difficulty
gathering a crew. Tillicum, who wishes to return to her homeland,
helps Arn recruit a crew; they convince many men that they will make
great profits trading with the Indians. More men join Arn after he
miraculously survives a wreck of his small boat enroute to
As Spring (ca. 471) arrives, the recruits gather at Boltarstead and
start to make trade goods. After a farewell banquet, Gundar Harl's
ship is supplied and launched. Using "Greek Fire," an inflammable oil,
Gundar repels a pirate attack. The ship makes stops at the Faroe
Islands (to load up with fuel), Iceland (to explore), and Greenland (to
get water from the icebergs).
Arriving in the New World, the Vikings land at Newfoundland, stop for a
while to celebrate and exchange gifts with the Indians, and then
proceed down the St. Lawrence River. They are met by an Indian
delegation. A battle ensues when an ambitious chieftain tries to gain
status by keeping the "Sun-Woman's" son as a prisoner. The Northmen
defeat the Indians and take the leader as a hostage as they continue
upriver. A parlay with the hostile tribe is arranged, and hostages are
exchanged -- Tillicum and her son Hatha go to the Indian village, while
the Indian boys go aboard the Viking ship. The meeting is a success:
the chieftain is released, gifts are exchanged, Tillicum and Hatha are
released. The two Indian boys stay with the Vikings, teach Arn to
hunt, and help him barter for a canoe. Another group of Indians help
haul the ship over the Lachine rapids.
After a stop to allow Tillicum to see her father, the Vikings arrive at
the land of the Algonquins, where Arn was born. Arn plans to bring
trade, prosperity, and civilization to the tribe. The Vikings build a
huge house. The Algonquins plan for war with a tribe to the south.
Arn is attacked by an enemy brave but is saved from an arrow by his
chain mail. He then spies on the enemy tribe and returns to help with
the war preparations. The enemy attacks. The Algonquins and Vikings
repel the invaders but at the cost of a burnt village and many dead
braves. Winter approaches, and the Vikings store sufficient food.
Additional food is obtained by trade with the peaceful Hurons. The
Iroquois send raiders to steal some of the wealth of food but are
repulsed by the Viking-trained Algonquins. A peace treaty between the
Hurons, Iroquois and Algonquins is arranged.
Winter comes. Arn maps the territory and dreams of finding an overland
route to the sea. Meanwhile, Hatha becomes friendly with Starlight, an
Indian girl, in order to learn Indian ways. When Hatha and the girl
exchange gifts, the twelve year old boy suddenly finds himself engaged,
due to Indian custom! Arn helps his friend get out of the predicament
without insulting the girl's parents. Arn celebrates his fifteenth
birthday (he was born in page #551 in 1947, strip-time winter 456-457).
As Spring nears (ca. 472), the Northmen begin to prepare for their
voyage home. Because of Arn's efforts, the tribe has learned
cooperation and a union of tribes is proposed. The Algonquin nation is
born. The Vikings sail past Lachine, where Tillicum says farewell to
her father. Guided by the Mohegans and Mohawks, Arn, Hath and some men
go inland to map the overland route from the St. Lawrence to the sea.
Gundar Harl sails on and makes plans to meet Arn later at the sea. A
fight with the Mohawks interrupts the trip. The group reaches the
Hudson River and travels its length.
Finally after "fourteen" months (actually about 16), Arn's great
adventure is completed. The route from the St. Lawrence to the sea has
been mapped. Gundar has sailed the long route by sea (discovering the
Gulf Stream on the way) and meets Arn at the lush island of Manhattan.
The time comes to leave, and the trip across the ocean passes quickly
("The Tournament", #1529-1531: Meanwhile, as Arn passes Ireland on his
last stretch of the voyage home, Val is organizing a Viking tournament
to bring some excitement to quiet Vikingsholm. However, when the
"games" begin, Val and Aguar watch in horror as the battle-hardened
veteran warriors abandon all the rules and turn the sporting event into
a violent free-for-all. The trumpeter ends the games, but the
enthusiastic Vikings don't stop until a table full of food and drink is
set up near them). When the wanderers arrive home at last, there are
many unashamed tears, and a happy week of feasting and story-telling
(Comment: Some panels from the original "New World" story from 1947
(#34) are reprinted in pages 1456,1457 and 1483).
100) #1533(26 Jun 66) - 1551(30 Oct 66) Mordred's Intrigue
Rumor has it that the warlike Scottish tribes beyond the Roman Wall are
uniting with the Picts for an invasion of Britain. Mordred is thought
to be involved. Arn escorts his mother and siblings by sea to Camelot,
while Val takes the rugged route along the coast of Caledonia, hoping
to gather information. Val learns the rumors of the raid on Britain
are true and that Mordred is indeed behind the sceheme.
On foot north of the Wall, Val disguises himself as a soldier of
fortune seeking employment and starts to infiltrate the enemy forces,
hoping to cultivate the ancient distrust between the Picts and Scots.
While Val spies on the camp, Mordred hears of the gadfly spreading
discontent. While riding back to report to Arthur, Val is taken
prisoner by the Scots. During a skirmish, he escapes and recovers the
`Singing Sword', which he had earlier lost. Having caused bloodshed
and setting in flame the enmity between Pict and Scot, Val gallops
southward toward the Wall and safety, hoping he has ruined Mordred's
plans. In order to escape from his pursuers, Val hides in a mysterious
Druid crypt. When he reaches Hadrian's Wall, Val warns all the guards
to build up their defenses.
Mordred finally calls for the start of the invasion and is furious to
find that neither the Scots or Picts will attack first and that they
prefer fighting against each other more than against Britain. Arthur's
evil son gallops back to Camelot to make excuses, and when Val arrives
at court, he is dismayed to find that Mordred has already arrived to
claim the honor of preventing a costly war. Tired and frustrated, Val
returns home to the comforting arms of his wife.
Meanwhile, evil Mordred realizes that Sir Valiant was the spy who
ruined his invasion plans and also realizes that Val is the only one
who knows the true cause of the current political situation. Thus he
plans with Agravaine and Gaheris, his half brothers, to make Val suffer
by harming his family and then kill him.
("First Love", #1546-1548: Meanwhile, the twins have reached the
romantic age and proceed to fall in love with Sir Howard, the King's
messenger. They become jealous and sad when Howard gives his attention
to Freyda, an older woman.)
Arn sees Mordred acting suspiciously and so he warns his father
of imminent danger. One day when Val apparently takes his family on a
picnic, Mordred pays some peasants to kidnap Galan. The criminals are
surprised to find they have only stolen a doll, and Prince Valiant is
still there to punish them. Val sternly warns the frightened Mordred
to see that no danger ever threatens his family again.
101) #1552(6 Nov 66) - 1555(27 Nov 66) The Mermaid
To relieve the boredom of a hot, dull day, Aleta takes her family to
the seashore. After a swim with the children, the Queen of the Misty
Isles finds what she thinks is a private grotto and tries some skinny
dipping. Val is surprised when rumors of water nymphs and mermaids
reach Camelot and is amused to eventually find his wife to be the cause
of the excitement. Aleta is embarrassed and acts demurely for several
("Back to Romance", #1555: When the seashore holiday is over, the
twins resolve to settle their relationship once and for all. Realizing
that the boy couldn't marry both of them anyway, Karen and Valeta start
arguing and broken-heartedly break off their romancing.)
102) #1556(4 Dec 66) - 1567(19 Feb 67) The Missing Heir
Bala Burwult, an aged warrior from Dinmore, asks King Arthur's aid in
finding Prince Harwick, the missing heir of dying King Bedwin. Sir
Valiant is chosen to fulfill this sensitive mission, for a power
struggle might result if the King dies without a proper heir. Hearing
that the Prince is an avid fisherman, Val searches for him at rivers
and soon finds his quarry, who hates court life and is disguised as a
troubadour and fisherman named Owen. Clever Owen extracts Val's
promise to keep his whereabouts a secret, and Val is torn between his
duty to the King and his given word. Meanwhile, King Bedwin dies and
his faithful chancellor Bala sends some horsemen on the mission to find
the heir before his ambitious uncles usurp the throne. The old
chancellor finds Owen/Harwick and begs him to assume his duties, but
the Prince is unmoved; he cares only about the love of a woman named
Ruth. The crazed chancellor poisons Ruth and himself, leaving Harwick
no choice but to take up his new responsibilities. Angry and hurt,
Hatwick returns to his castle and is crowned, his chance for freedom
and contentment gone. Val did not have to break either of his
promises. Harwick forces his two ambitious uncles to swear fealty to
him. Understanding his destiny and accepting his new life, Harwick
desires to be a good King. Val helps Harwick establish King Arthur's
merciful method of justice and then bids farewell, hoping Dinmore will
be in good hands.
103) #1567(19 Feb 67) - 1592(13 Aug 67) Enter Sir Reynolde
Val leaves for Camelot and soon gains a merry companion -- Sir
Reynolde, son of Sir Hugo of Dinmore, who seeks his fortune at King
Arthur's court. Val and Reynolde join a troupe of actors bound for
Caldergarde to entertain at a wedding feast. Reynolde decides to have
some fun masquerading as Prince Valiant, who enjoys his role as a
minstrel. At castle Glenhaven Reynolde falls in love with golden
haired Lady Ann. However, Reynolde is jealous to learn that Sir Fould,
an actor, is also trying to woo Ann. Now Reynolde finds the false role
a burden. Fould convinces Ann to elope with the villain. Ann realizes
she has been deceived but knows that Reynole really loves her, so she
hints that she will accept him once he has really proven himself.
Reynolde vows to return to her after doing great deeds in Camelot.
Upon arriving in Camelot, Val reports on his experiences in Dinmore to
the King, while Reynolde learns about the arduous path to knighthood.
After being assigned to beginner's classes, Reynolde meets Val's family
and shows them that he knows little about fighting but much about
horses. Geoffrey, the famous scribe and historian who was once an
eager knight-in-training, is another guest in the Valiant house. King
Arthur learns that Reynolde breeds splendid horses and is not a good
warrior. When Reynolde is injured, Arthur has him help care for the
King's mounts and also asks him to arrange a purchase of some of Sir
Hugo's horses for Britain. Geoffrey accompanies Reynolde back to
Dinmore and, by telling the boy his own life story, convinces him that
being a warrior is not the only respectable occupation. (Comment: Page
1585 uses redrawn and reprinted panels from the original story of
Geoffrey, #43, from 1951.)
In a turmoil, Reynolde arrives at Glenhaven to ask Ann's parents for
her hand in marriage. There, Sir Bala Llanwyn, a rival, challenges
Reynolde to a duel. Reynolde then goes home to recuperate, give his
father the good news, and prepare for the coming duel. Realizing his
young friend has no chance, Geoffrey prevents the fight by telling Bala
he is interfering with the King's business and suggests he uses his
fighting talents for a good cause at Camelot. Just before Reynolde
leaves for Camelot with the horses, Ann's parents decide to give their
daughter to him rather than to Bala. Furious, Bala leaves Dinmore and
joins the group going to Camelot, where he observes the courteous
behavior of the great knights and learns that a man does not have to be
a bully. Reynolde is eventually appointed knight-custodian-of-horses
by the King and rides happily out of our story to claim the hand of
104) #1591(6 Aug 67) - 1599(1 Oct 67) To Have and to Hold
After a brief rest, Val hangs his shield in the Hall of Champions.
Arthur has an assignment: he sends Val to Wickwain to straighten out a
power struggle. Earl Clive has died, and his widow is disputing his
half-brother's claim to the estate. Bala (from story #103) goes with
Val as his hew squire and seems chiefly interested in fighting and
plunder. Val reprimands the roughneck when he gets into an unnecessary
fight with Noel, nephew of the late Earl, who is on his way to seek the
King's justice. At Wickwain, Val, Bala, and Noel get a hostile
reception from the new King. Sligol. Lady Clive says her husband's
will holds Wickwain in trust for the son of their daughter, Meg. In
order to counter this opposition, Sligol decides to wed Lady Clive and
have his son, Fonde, marry Meg. Of course, the ladies disgustedly
refuse. The existence of the will is contested, and Val finds shreds
of a likely-looking document in Sligol's charcoal brazier. Noel rides
to a neighbor, Sir Grenwold, who witnessed the will, to check its
authenticity. Desperate, Sligol sends two of his armed guards in
pursuit, but the pursuers are stopped by Prince Valiant. Bala
encounters Fonde assaulting Meg and interferes. Noel, Val and Sir
Grenwold ride back to Wickwain to settle the inheritance question and
find Meg and Bala holding off an attack by Sligol's men. The three
find a secret passage into the castle and aid the two. The cowardly
Fonde escapes into the forest. Sligol dies of a stroke. Bala risks
his life by holding the castle until Val returns. Wickwain now legally
returns to Lady Clive, and proud Bala falls in love with Meg, who
indicates he might be an acceptable companion at some future date. Val
rides back to Camelot with a changed, happy squire, eager to join in
the upcoming hunting season.
105) #1600(8 Oct 67) - 1605(12 Nov 67) The Beserker
The traditional late autumn hunt and harvest is held at Camelot. King
Arthur rides in front, excited and carefree. Aleta suffers an
embarrassing incident when a stag charges her and removes her skirt.
Prince Arn strays from the hunting party, loses his horse and meets an
old hag and her demented, wild-looking son. He stays in her filthy hut
overnight. The hag gives Arn a strange potion that will make him a
wild beserker who will steal pretty things for her. Worried, Val and
Aleta scour the forest in search of their son and find him wandering,
dazed and bleeding. Arn is relieved to find he has done no great harm
while drugged, and Val later burns the evil hag's hut. The hunt ends
successfully, and Camelot will be well stocked with provisions through
the coming winter.
106) #1606(19 Nov 67) - 1621(3 March 68) Slaves in Dathram
After three weeks of relaxation, King Arthur comes home to problems.
Sir Mordred reports that Gawain is being held for ransom by Balda Han
in the land of Dathram. Meanwhile, when Val gets home, he finds Aleta
is needed in the Misty Isles. Arthur gives Val leave to sail with her
and instructs him to take care of the business in Dathram on the way.
At Dathram's Mediterranean port, Val takes off in a small boat by
himself and plans to join his family later in the Misty Isles. Val is
allowed to travel with a caravan bringing plunder to Balda Han. In the
desert the Governor has Val beaten, robbed and taken into slavery,
hoping to get the ransom money without giving back any hostages. Val
acts very cooperative but secretly plans to rescue Sir Gawain, recover
his valuables and sword, and avenge the pain and humiliation. At Balda
Han's walled stronghold, Val finds Gawain a slave. After finding a
sword buried in an ancient crypt beneath the desert sands, Val plans
action. The slaves are made to realize that they outnumber the guards
ten to one. Gawain and Val, the only ones armed, attack some guards
and thus arm more slaves, who rise up and rampage through the city.
The Governor, one of the few who knows the way back through the desert,
is made to give back Val's `Singing Sword' and taken captive. Balda
Han is thrown to the angry mob. For three days the freed slaves loot
and burn the city. Val wonders what the ultimate fate of these
confused, now greedy, men will be. He sets off across the desert with
Gawain, the ex-Governor and the ex-slaves. It takes two days to reach
the first oasis, and by then many men have dropped from the heat and
thirst. The Governor then leads Val to Dathram only after extracting a
promise that he and his family will be spared and arranging for a
somewhat non-violent takeover of the city. Back at Dathram the
Governor sneakily has all the patrols disarm and gives the weapons to
the freed slaves. Some are forced to pay tribute to the men they sold
into slavery. Val remakes the laws of Dathram after Camelot's fair
way. With pride, Val sets sail for the Misty Isles with Gawain and six
dancing girls. Unfortunately, as soon as Val's ship is out of sight,
the unscrupulous leaders of Dathram put the city back into its
comfortable old decadent state.
107) #1622(10 Mar 68) - 1635(9 June 68) Trouble in the Isles
Aleta had returned to find her kingdom in deep trouble that the people
were actually enjoying, and she is very relieved and happy to see Val
step ashore. The Misty Isles have become weak because of too much
wealth, luxury and laziness (again; see story 83). The two greatest
athletes, for example, have become so fat and lazy that they must be
carried in a race by teams of servants. Aleta's laws have been
corrupted and her armies have become unfit. Walking about the town,
Val finds that only the merchants and nobles are wealthy. Most of the
workers are really overtaxed, overworked and underpaid, and there are
rumors of revolt. A group of pirates attacks the merchant fleet, and
Val is angered to see the navymen ill-equipped to defend their
countrymen. Val is forced to take a few men and rescue a plundered
merchant vessel himself. Some adventurous volunteers help Val
eliminate the pirate threat. The seafaring spirit of the people is
rekindled, and Val creates a new, more effective navy. Meanwhile,
Queen Aleta is working with her legal advisors, trying to untangle a
system that seems to have given all power to the rich. She calls in
the City Council, chastising them for their selfish greed. The corrupt
Lord of the Exchequer is sentenced to stay in prison until he fixes up
his records. The remaining nobles are tricked into thinking that the
Queen has secret, dangerous information on them and are forced to
change their ways or resign. Val and Gawain proceed to train and re-
equip the army and navy, hoping to make the Misty Isles not only
prosperous but also secure.
108) #1635(9 Jun 68) - 1646(25 Aug 68) Ortho Bey
Danger lurks in Lycia, where the ruthless Ortho Bey harries his
neighbors by land and sea. It is thought that his greedy eyes might be
looking toward the Misty Isles. On the pretext of forming a trade
agreement with the Bey, the Queen sends spies, including her son Arn,
to investigate. The suspicious Bey hopes that the childish prattle of
a young Prince will reveal information, but Arn cleverly speaks of
nothing but trade. Using a swim as an excuse to observe the passage of
ships in the sea, Arn finds a secret warfleet being built. One day Arn
meets a beautiful young girl and becomes infatuated until he realizes
that she has been sent to ply him for information about the strength of
the Misty Isles. He cleverly tells her of the legendary prowess of the
island's protectors, his father and Sir Gawain, and the Bey sends for
historians to confirm the stories (Page 1643 is highlighted by reprints
of some of the milestone scenes from earlier stories). The Bey
believes he must be a greater leader and continues his evil plans.
Just before the Feast of Zoroaster, the trade commission takes its
leave of Lycia but, instead of immediately sailing away, first turns
toward the secret shipyard and burns Ortho Bey's fleet. Bey, now
bankrupt and powerless, is quickly deposed and killed by former
"friends". Hearing of the danger her land might have been exposed to,
Queen Aleta vows never to let the defenses of the Misty Isles become
109) #1646(25 Aug 68) - 1650(22 Sept 68) At Home with the Kids
The three younger children of Val and Aleta are beginning to grow up.
Little Galand develops a strong will, discards some of his toys, and
seriously starts pretending to be a warrior. The twins (who are now
stated to be twelve years old) decide to stop being tomboys and
discover that boys and girls are different. A divine spell of puppy
love ensues. Meanwhile, Val and Arn long for their northern home and
become restless. Captain Helge Hakkon is chosen to take the royal
family to Thule. Queen Aleta spends a few last days tidying up her
small kingdom. The twins and their tragic young lovers make great
promises and part brokenheartedly. As the ship sails away, Aleta,
Karen and Valeta look back semtimentally, while Val, Arn and Gawain
gaze eagerly forward, thinking of the exciting adventures that will
110) #1651(29 Sep 68) - 1672(23 Feb 69) Return to Britain
The long voyage to Britain begins unpleasantly, for the Captain and
Katwin seem to dislike each other. Gawain becomes bored and asks to be
let off at Tunis in order to sail for Marseilles. At the harbor, Val
asks an old friend, Genseric, King of the Vandals, to provide
transportation for Gawain. Years earlier, Genseric had delayed Val's
marriage by sacking Rome (see story #30) and now makes up for it by
honoring Val and Aleta with a belated wedding feast and gifts. Gawain
and Val sail their separate ways. Aleta decides to go shopping while
the ship gets fresh water in a Barbary Coast port. At the bazaar, she
and the twins are abducted by the treacherous El Muluk, who wishes that
the golden women would grace his castle. Val and Arn angrily arm and
gather their men and march towards the palace of "The Vulture".
Entering the panicked palace through a small side passage, Arn rescues
both Valeta and Karen as Val's men storm and burn the palace. Captain
Hakkon enters El Muluk's harem in order to rescue Katwin, whom he
really cares for. In the battle with a giant Nubian, Hakkon wins
Katwin's freedom but injures his left arm very badly. Meanwhile, Val
has found "The Vulture" in the wreckage and gives him a final taste of
Only when everyone is safely out to sea does Helge permit himself the
luxury of fainting. Katwin soon realizes that Captain Hakkon's
shattered arm will never mend, and despite Helge's pleas, finds a
surgeon to amputate the gangrenous limb. Helge is furious and bitter
when he awakens from his coma. As the ship sails past Gibraltar to the
sea, Katwin cares for Helge during his slow recovery. He has lost his
will to live. Aleta chastises the self-pitying Captain for ignoring
Katwin's patient attention and makes him realize how much the woman
cares for him. Helge finally forgets his misfortune and begins to
recover. He plots a new course to speed the ship to Britain. Fearing
that Helge's stubborn pride will end Katwin's dream of having her own
home, Aleta arranges for him to meet Gundar Harl and learn how a
serious handicap can be overcome. Helge is inspired by Gundar's
prowess in shipbuilding, loses his despair, and enthusiastically plans
a new future of shipbuilding.
Arn tires of the sea and decides to finish the journey to Camelot by
land. He buys a horse and sets off. On the way, Arn befriends a
starving, magnificent hound and becomes its master. The name "Skirnir"
is chosen, after the servant of the gods in Norse mythology. Arn
returns to Camelot before his parents.
About this time the marriage of Captain Helge Hakkon and Katwin takes
place aboard ship. It is a simple ceremony of personal oaths,
involving no absurd promises and no religion. Weighed down by the
Queen's baggage, the plunder from Balda Han's palace and the tribute
from Dathram, and the treasures of Ortho Bey, Val and Aleta slowly make
the final short trip to Camelot and resume their respective duties.
(Comment: This is the last time we see Katwin, the handome "Amazon"
who was Aleta's handmaiden and children's governess since 1946 (about
18 years in strip time).)
111) #1672(23 Feb 69) - 1681(27 Apr 69) Gawain's Misadventures
As Val reports to King Arthur, Gawain rides raggedly into Camelot
astride a mule. He proceeds to spend a rowdy night telling Val, the
King, and the other knights about his journey from Tunis and
Marseilles. At Marseilles Gawain tried to seduce the Governor's wife,
so he had to escape from the prison he was put in as well as the
cutthroats hired to ventilate his magnificent body. Lyons, Gawain's
next destination, was the site of some losing gambling. Next, Gawain
was on foot in a storm and was picked up by a widowed lady who brought
him to her castle. Unfortunately, the lady's suitor became jealous and
challenged Gawain to a joust. Gawain won, claimed the rival's horse as
prize, and escaped from a fate worse than death -- marriage! Relieved,
Gawain entered a nearby tournament, won and had to fight off some
thieves who coveted his prize money. The great knigt sailed from Rouen
toward Britain with a great sorcerer who, upon landing, stole Gawain's
money and horse. This is why Arthur's nephew had returned to Camelot
in such a sorry state.
112) #1682(4 May 69) - 1683(11 May 69) Arn, the Poacher
Arn tries to train his dog, Skirnir, as a hunter, but the great hound
mistakenly kills a sheep. By law, a sheep-killing dog must die. The
shepherd prepares to kill Skirnir, but Arn claims responsibility and
pays him double the animal's value. Upset over his law-breaking, Arn
113) #1683(11 May 69) - 1696(10 Aug 69) The Saxon Dilemma
When Arthur defeated the Saxon army at Badon Hill (story 96) and drove
them back into the sea, scattered bands settled in Essex. Now the
Saxons are being harried by Vikings from Anglia, raiders who have also
become settlers, and they ask for King Arthur's help. Arthur calls his
council together and asks for suggestions. It is decided to hold ready
a mounted force until the King's representative learns the facts.
Naturally, Val is chosen to go as the King's representative, and he
rides away on Arvak with the Saxons after saying goodbye to Aleta once
At Essex, the Saxon settlers complain that Arthur leaves them in peace
so long as theky do not build forts, but without fortifications they
are at the mercy of the Viking raiders. Satisfied that the settlers
are obeying the King's laws, Val leads his troops northward into Anglia
to confront the outlawed Vikings. Val confronts Thoric, the chieftain,
who had once been exiled by King Aguar from Thule, and offers a
possible pardon in return for peace in Britain.
Contemptuous of the two sanctimonious Christian Kings, a brawny warrior
named Thorkell provokes a duel to the death with Val and loses.
Thorkell's brother, frenzied, declares a blood feud but is also done in
by Sir Valiant's agile swordsmanship. Stubborn Thoric decides that his
Vikings will harry Britain's shores until they are paid tribute and
expels Val from the camp. Arthur's troops bait the Vikings into coming
out of the impregnable fort by catapulting fireballs. On foot, the
storming Vikings are surprised and forced to retreat to the sea by the
mounted knights hidden in the forest. Blood-stained, weary, and
defiant, Thoric makes one last stand, but a mighty blow on the helmet
with the flat of Val's sword brings him down. Rather than killing his
foe, Val gives him a quest: to go to King Aguar, offer his services,
and be judged by the King to whom he was once false.
114) #1697(17 Aug 69) - 1705(12 Oct 69) Who Breaks the Peace?
A violent tempest makes the homeward march along the coast long and
difficult. Hoping to escape the rain, Val crawls into a dark cave near
the beach, where he finds a hidden cache of arms large enough to outfit
a thousand men. They are of Saxon make. This presumably means the
peace is to be broken and another period of warfare is being planned.
Scouts are sent to locate the trouble makers. Sir Halwyn, the King's
armorer, leads a company of knights to gather firewood and burn the
After the scouts find the enemy camp, occupied by men who appears to be
warriors from across the sea rather than settlers, Val and a few
knights call on the enemy chieftain. Earl Thundros appears to be a
formidable leader and plans to settle for nothing less than all of
Britain. Realizing such a man could arouse the Saxons to unite once
more, Val gives him three days to dismantle the fortress. Sneering,
Thundros marches to the beach openly with his men, thinking he can
easily take Arthur's knights with the hidden weapons. Horrified, his
followers find their cave white hot and empty. The knights easily
capture the unarmed raiders, and Val sentences the chief to be judged
by King Arthur.
The long march to Camelot begins. The problem of guarding and feeding
an army of prisoners is solved by letting most of them escape; those
who survive to reach the Saxon settlements will help Britain by
informing all of the Saxons of King Arthur's powerful knights and great
victories. Aleta cries with happiness when she receives a tender
letter reporting Val's imminent return.
("The Unicorn Hunt," #1703-1704: Inspired by his mother's bedtime
stories, Galan sets off to capture a unicorn. First he must find a
maiden pure of heart, for only such a girl can bridle a unicorn. After
finding an appropriate little girl to help, Galan finds a one-horned
goat and brings it home. Aleta is not impressed, and she sends the
girl home and the goat back to the dump.)
A few days after, Prince Valiant leads his weary knights and Saxon
prisoners into Camelot. His business completed, our hero becomes just
another married man. King Arthur sees what a dangerous man Thundros
could be and sadly beckons to his headsman to resolve the problem.
115) #1705(12 Oct 69) - 1708(2 Nov 69) The Enchantress
Valeta sees the power her mother has over her father, studies her
techniques, and sets out to trouble a few hearts. After a careful
survey of potential victims, Valeta picks a handsome lad practicing at
archery. Ecstatic, Valeta gets the boy so bemused he will do anything
she asks. Climbing a tree to pick her an apple, he falls and breaks a
leg. Karen, the forthright one, rushes to his side, sets the leg, and
has him sent to the infirmary. Jealous, Valeta attacks her sister, and
the twins enjoy a short, satisfying burst of pent-up violence.
116) #1708(2 Nov 69) - 1716(28 Dec 69) Geoffrey's Fulfillment
King Arthur sends Val to Carlisle to report on the northern fiefs.
Prince Arn is to accompany his father as far as Chester and then visit
King Cuddock of Wales, to assure him of Britain's assistance against
sea raiders. On the Roman-built road, they are interrupted by an
encounter with Sieur du Laci and his daughter, Adele, and partner,
Yousef. Years ago Sieur du Laci had sailed with Val on his return to
Britain from Rome, and Adele had made a childish pact with Geoffrey
(story #44). Adele tells Arn her father has promised her in marriage
to Yousef, who frightens her. The next morning they go their separate
ways: Du Laci to Camelot and Val and Arn to the north.Val rides on as
Arn goes alone to visit Cuddock. A dragonship from
Thule lands at the port to buy supplies, and Geoffrey is aboard. Arn
tells his friend about Adele and Yousef and sends him to Camelot.
After Adele and Geoffrey meet and excitedly rekindle their love, Yousef
threatens the poet's life. Geoffrey leaves the choice to Adele, who
chooses Yousef only in order to save the life of the man she really
loves. Yousef still tries to kill Geoffrey but is captured by the
palace guards. Sir Kay informs him that the punishment for attacking a
favored storyteller is death, but as a stranger he is merely banished.
However, Yousef sneaks back to Camelot, filled with hatred. Sieur du
Laci approves the marriage of Geoffrey and Adele. Yousef tries to
enter Adele's room by climbing a tree. Just as he crawls in the
window, Adele slams the shutters closed, causing the madman to fall to
his death. A great wedding feast is then held.
117) #1717(4 Jan 70) - 1727(15 Mar 70) Arn's Servitude
Meanwhile, after finishing his mission, Arn had ridden up the Welsh
coast to report on the condition of the watchtowers that guard against
raiders. Arn tries a shortcut home when his horse plunges into a bog
and sinks away! Sadly, the Prince uses his spear to end the horse's
agony. Now, withour shielld, helmet, cloak or food, Arn attempts to
cross the rugged lands on foot. By following game trails he finds
passes through the mountains. He encounters an armed group going in
the same direction and is forced to join a group of captives under
guard. They are taken to the grim fortress of Lanwick to be slaves in
his tin mine. When Llanwick realizes his new slave is from the wealthy
Valiant family, he decides to make the boy his personal servant and try
to get a large ranson for him. Arn takes advantage of his position to
study the fortress and plan an escape. Since the fortress is
impregnable and escape is impossible, it must be destroyed. He soon
escapes by setting a huge destructive fire that guts Llanwick's castle.
Meanwhile, Prince Valiant has received the ransom note and sets off to
rescue his son. As furious Llanwick pursues Arn with his hounds, jVal
catches up, saves his son, and leaves Lanwixk's fate to be decided by
the people he mistreated. Arn and his father report on their
respective missions to King Arthur.
118) #1728(22 Mar 70) - 1731(12 Apr 70) The Vanishing Deer
While hunting in his private park, Arthur discovers that all his deer
are gone. When Val investigates, he finds that his old friend, Hugh-
the-Fox (see story 32), is responsible. The former outlaw explains
that his men were facing starvation, and Val convinces Arthur to give
Hugh's band freedom of the forest by making them wardens.
(Comment: It is said that this is about 15 years after Hugh's pardon
(story 32), but that was in about 455 AD, a few years before Arn was
born. Since Arn is now considerably over 15 (he had a 15th birthday in
story 96), this must be closer to jAD 474 than 470. Foster's
chronology in these later years became very inconsistent, unlike in the
earlier years of the strip.)
119) #1732(19 Apr 70) - 1759(25 Oct 70) Ah! Women!
Chivalry, the age of romance, envelops Camelot like an epidemic.
(Comment: As noted in the introduction, this is an anachronism. The
age of chivalry (meaning the general code of behavior of knights, not
just an attitude towards women) in England really was from about 1100-
1300, though this story ostensibly takes place in approximately the
Dale Makinnie arrives at Camelot to win his golden spurs. Dale yearns
to become chanpion of a beautiful maiden. As he searches Camelot to
find a lady fair worthy to be his Lady-In-Domini, he sees Aleta. In
the tournament, Dale wins the right to challenge a knight of the Round
Table and picks one of the most renowned, Sir Gawain. Gawain plucks
the young upstart from his saddle. Dale thus learns that the knights
of the Round Table are not ordinary men and that he has a long way to
go before he can earn a place among then.
Prince Arn befriends the dejected young man, and Dale is embarrassed
when he meets his friend's mother: Aleta, the ideal lady unobtainable.
Dale's infatuation is increased. While Aleta tries to cure Dale's
infatuation for her by interesting him in a maid his own age, 12 year
old Karen decides to become his lady fair and pursues him like a
huntress. (Comment: Foster has been holding Karen and Valeta at this
age for several years now!)
Meanwhile, Lady Marvyn asks King Arthur to help her with her absent
son's disrupted inheritance. At Val's suggestion, Dale is sent to
help, and he is thrilled when Aleta gives him her handkerchief as a
token before he rides off. Dale soon finds that the Lady is more
interested in killing her villainous brother-in-law, Sir Lowary, than
in the claim. Dale hears rumors that Lady Marvyn's son is actually
dead. Both the Lady Marvyn and Sir Lowary insult and bait Dale, but he
holds his temper.
Dale meets Lady Marvyn's stepdaughter, Matilda, Lord Marvyn's daughter
by his first wife, and she warns him that Lowary plans to kill him by
provoking him to a duel. Lowary is fierce and has never been defeated,
but when Sir Lowary blows his nose into Aleta's handkerchief, Dale
becomes enraged and kills him.
Dale is now treated as a hero by Lady Marvyn. Slowly Matilda falls in
love with him, though he still dreams of Aleta. In order to remain
mistress of her fief, Lady Marvyn needs a husband and chooses Dale.
She seethes when she finds he prefers Matilda, her despised and
neglected stepdaughter. The Lady dies when she mistakenly drinks
poisoned wine intended for Matilda. Matilda becomes temporary mistress
of Castle Marvyn until a rightful heir can be found. After a thorough
investigation, it is found that the son of the late Lord Marvyn had
indeed died as a child, meaning Matilda would retain control.
The mission completed, Dale prepares to return to Camelot, and Matilda
comes along with him. As he had dreamed of, Dale reports his
activities to King Arthur. Gradually, Dale falls in love with innocent
Matilda. At Aleta's urging, King Arthur knights Dale in order to give
him authority at Marvyn Castle and, hopefully, to restore Marvyn fief
to its former strength and strategic importance.
After the wedding of Dale and Matilda a hunt is organized at Marvyn
Castle. Prince Arn gets lost while tracking a wild boar and stumbles
upon Chariot Garde, castle of the sorceress Morgan Le Fay. Seeking
revenge against her enemy Prince Valiant, Morgan takes Arn hostage.
VVal enters Merlin's laboratory, which has been locked since Merlin
disappeared, in search of magic to use against the evil woman. As Le
Fay hoped, Val comes to pit his amateurish magaic against her sorcery.
By coincidence, just as Val insists on Arn's release, the boy escapes
from the dungeon, exactly as Val had done years ago. Father and son
return to Marvyn Castle to join the end of the hunt.
(Comment: This is noted to be eighteen years since the day Val had
first fought Le Fay for the release of Sir Gawain (story #8), which is
again inconsistent with our chronology. Note that Le Fay's castle was
called "Dolorous Garde" in story 8. Page 1757, ghosted by Gray Morrow
in a very Foster-like style, is the first page not drawn predominantly
by Foster himself, although Foster was known to have some assistants
over the years.)
120) #1759(25 Oct 70) - 1815(21 Nov 71) The End of Romance
Sir Valiant must return to Camelot and agrees to escort the flirtatious
and pretty Lady Donat. When her horse is injured, Val chivalrously
lets her ride in his lap. Aleta, waiting anxiously for Val to return,
sees him ride into Camelot with a strange woman in his arms and
furiously banishes her husband from their home. Foolish pride
maintains a wall of ice between the two, even when the cause of the
rift is forgotten. Val rides off to find solace in adventure, not
knowing that Aleta has decided to forget her foolish jealousy and take
Val is invited to spend a night in the stronghold of Sir Astaric, where
he ends up helping young Guiveric rescue his lover, a fair blonde
maiden imprisoned by Astaric in a grim tower. After this battle, Val
wanders off, still dejected over his loss of Aleta, and he roams the
countryside. Meanwhile, Aleta sails for the Misty Isles on the ship of
Tiring of his nomadic existence, Val ends his wanderings at the town
where Merlin was born. There the old philosopher Lionors inspires Val
to begin his greatest quest: the second winning of Queen Aleta.
Quickly, Val returns to Camelot, where Arn tells his father that Aleta
had decided to take him back many weeks earlier. Realizing his
foolishness, Val immediately sets off with Arn in search of Aleta.
A roundabout route to the Misty Isles is necessary, for all of Europe
is aflame with wars. Sir Launcelot helps Val sail across the English
Channel to Brittany. Aided by Launcelot's friend, Ben Zirara, Val and
Arn ride south towards the Mediterranean Sea. ("The Braggart", #1792-
1795: They stop to rest at the castle of Sieur Delauncy and are
delayed by a Goth attack, in which Delauncy is killed.) Finally, Val
and Arn sail to Algiers en route to the Misty Isles. Zirara leads them
along the North African coast and across a great desert. They leave
Ben Zirara at his home, Quel Hajed, and set off across the desert
alone, guided only by the stars.
Meanwhile, Aleta reaches the Misty Isles and resumes her queenly
duties. She meets a mysterious visitor, Ortho of Kos, who suggests
that a search party be sent along the African coast to look for Val.
Two extra ships are secretly sent along to kill Sir Valiant for Ortho,
who secretly wants to marry Aleta and become King of the Misty Isles.
The search vessel arrives at the African port of Gabes just as Val and
his son arrive there, lost. As the escort vessel prepares to take Val
and Arn home, Ortho's men attack. After some vigorous swordplay and a
bit of subtle trickery, Prince Valiant gains possession of the enemy
ship and discovers Ortho's plot. After a few days, Aleta's family is
happily reunited in the Misty Isles. Guards sent to arrest Ortho find
that he has been killed by a dirty, crazed beggar who had learned of
(Comment: Page 1760 is the first one drawn by John Cullen Murphy, who
also did numbers 1764-1767, 1769-1772, 1774, 1775, 1777, and 1778.
Page 1762 was ghosted by Wallace Wood, while 1765 was a second page
done by Gray Morrow. Apparently Wood and Morrow were auditioning for
the art job, but Foster preferred Murphy, who completed pages #1777-
1787 and 1789-on from Foster's scripts and layouts. Page #1788
(reprinted as a large full-color poster by Manuscript Press) is the
last done totally by Foster exept for #2000. Murphy's art was at first
very similar to Foster's but gradually became somewhat cruder and less
detailed, taking away some but by no means all of the strip's rich
121) #1816(28 Nov 71) - 1821(2 Jan 72) The Vanishing Groom
While wandering near the waterfront, Karen and Valeta meet a young man,
Zanedon, who fled from his family to escape an intolerable marriage.
The mischievous twins agree to hide him in a stable. Aleta hears of
the marital conflict and sends her trouble shooter, Amiens, to
investigate. Amiens and the jilted bride, Helen, fall in love and
marry, and a feud between the families of Zanedon and Helen is avoided.
122) #1822(9 Jan 72) - 1834(2 Apr 72) The Indolent City
Arn's new friend, Prince Gian of Dondaris, is called home because of
the death of his father, the King. Arn goes with Gian for the funeral
and new coronation. Despite surface appearances, Arn finds Dondaris to
be a weak, indolent, unstable kingdom. News of an uprising led by
Silas "The Liberator" confirms Arn's suspicions. With Arn as second-
in-command, the new King Gian quenches the rebellion, despite the
blunders of his ineffectual army. On Arn's advice, Gian listens to the
rebel's complaints and promises to help improve their serf-like living
123) #1835(9 Apr 72) - 1841(21 May 72)Theft of the Singing Sword
Val sails to Dondaris to bring Arn home. While Val sleeps at the
palace, Klept the jewel thief steals the `Singing Sword' and flees the
city. Val tracks him down in a nearby mountainous forest and recovers
his charmed sword.
124) #1842(28 May 72) - 1859(24 Sept 72) The Lonely King
Val wanders off absent-mindedly after recovering his sword and enters
the city of Atheldag, where he meets the restless, unhappy King Dashad.
("Val's Story," #1846: Val reminisces about his life, philosophy, and
fated "lack of contentment.") Val decides that it is his knightly duty
to make a man of the fat little tyrant. The two leave on a hunting and
fishing trip, and "Dash" is forced to be self-reliant for the first
time. Along the way, Dash learns much about the problems of his
kingdom, and he returns a new man with many reforms to institute in
125) #1860(1 Oct 72) The Romancers
This is a charming, tongue-in-cheek page about the stories troubadours
and poets told about Prince Valiant, who apparently was quite a legend
even in his own lifetime.
126) #1861(8 Oct 72) - 1870(10 Dec 72) The Amorous Poet
Val returns to the Misty Isles and then journeys with his family to
Camelot. Val and Arn land at mid-voyage to exercise their horses and
encounter Jacques Augustus, "King of the Troubadours," as he flees from
some jealous husbands whose wives he had serenaaded. They take him
aboard their ship. At another rest-stop, Jacques meets Joan, a young
juggle girl, in the harbor town. Joan's brothers are killed in a
barroom brawl. Val takes the sad girl aboard his ship, where she and
Jacques fall in love and decide to marry.
127) #1870(10 Dec 72) - 1885(25 Mar 73) Boltarson
Sailing to Britain, Val and his family are forced by a violent band of
Viking raiders to land in Brittany, at Launcelot's castle. The Vikings
attack the castle but are defeated and turned back. One injured Viking
is left behind when the others flee, and he turns out to be Hatha, son
of Val's friend, Boltar the Sea King. Arn decides to visit his Viking
homeland, Thule, with Boltarson. Naturally, they encounter much
excitement along the way, including a battle with some Picts.
128) #1885(25 Mar 73) - 1959(25 Aug 74) Arn's Adventures
Arn arrives at Vikingsholm and is promptly sent by his grandfather,
Aguar, to attend the coronation of Prince Heidmar of the little inland
kingdom of Holvik. Apparently, Heidmar is not eager to begin the
boring, confining life of a king. When a murder attempt fails, Heidmar
welcomes the opportunity to pretend it had succeeded and slips away to
lead what he hopes will be a carefree, exciting life. As Aguar's
emissary, Arn stays to attend the coronation of Heidmar's ambitious
cousin, Grimner, who had arranged the "accident" that "killed" Heidmar.
Arn then returns to Vikingsholm and reports on his experiences to King
While wandering about Aguar's palace, Arn meets a lovely, brown haired
maiden who soon mysteriously disappears. This girl is Lydia, daughter
of Haakon the Sea Rover, and it seems that she ran away because she
thought that Prince Arn would never marry a commoner. Arn discovers
her identity and sails to Haakon's homeland, Tosenfjord, which
coincidentally is adjacent to the new kingdom of Grimner.
("Grimner's Downfall," #1897-1905: Arn anticipates an attack by
Grimner on Haakon's lands and sends for soldiers from Vikingsholm.
Haakon's Vikings, aided by Arn's army, easily repulse the disorganized
raiders from the Inner Lands. Arn is injured in the battle, so Aguar
sends for Val to replace Arn. Grimner is assassinated by army chiefs
who disapprove of his ambitiousness. Frieda, Grimner's widow, commits
suicide. Val installs Haakon as new King of Holvik. Lydia thus
becomes royalty, and her romance with Arn can continue.)
When Lydia's long-lost brother Thorvold visits, Arn sees the brother
and sister embrace. Thinking the girl was greeting a long-lost
sweetheart, Arn returns to Vikingsholm, jealous and broken-hearted.
Arn soon decides to take to the sea, hoping adventure will ease his
sorrow. Simultaneously, Lydia travels to Vikingsholm to explain Arn's
mistake, but she arrives too late, for Arn has already departed. Aleta
invites the saddened girl to spend the winter at Vikingsholm.
Arn's crew gradually becomes bored and disgruntled by the difficult
winter traveling, so the men eventually abandon their master. In
Paris, Arn decides to "play to the hilt" his new role as knight errant
and purchases a fancy new wardrobe. He also finds a squire, the
roguish Peter Paul Mathhew Mark Trywellyn of Wales. The two soon begin
their melancholy travels.
One Spring afteroon they come upon the castle of Sieur De Volnay and
are invited to stay for a week or so. There is a siege and blockade at
the castle, and unsanitary conditions soon cause an epidemic of the
dreaded "plague". Just before the siege is completed and the castle is
destroyed, Paul and Arn escape with a little girl, whom they name
The southward journey continues, and the three encounter Sir Gawain,
who is at the city of Nevers for a tournament. Arn enters the
tournament but is inexperienced at jousting and is forced to withdraw.
Paul seems to be tired of the responsibility of tending Squirrel and
starts to run away, but he changes his mind and returns to get married
and raise the young girl in a proper family setting.
Arn sets off with Gawain across Gaul to participate in more
tournaments. Meanwhile, Lydia has sent her brother, Thorvold, to find
Arn, and the search ends at Valence. Arn finally is made to realize
his stupid mistake and eagerly begins a return trip to Thule. Haste
causes Arn and Gawain to become lost.
("The Forgotten Land," #1938-1945: The two knights stumble upon a
beautiful lost land located in a lush valley from which no one can
easilly escape. In order to continue their trip, they must tangle with
the Mad Duke, Cyril the Tenth, who is madly in love with a woman he
doesn't realize is long dead.)
Riding on, Arn and Gawain are forced by a storm to stop again, this
time at the chateau of Lady Millicent, who forces them to escort her to
Paris, where her husband is galavanting. Sir Gawain then sails back to
Britain, while Arn rides along the windy coast seeking a ship to take
him to Thule. Countless delays, the uncertainty of his reception at
home, and the pain of an arm broken in a brawl all add to Arn's misery.
Finally, Arn sails to Thule and is happily reunited with his family and
(Comment: It is noted that the story takes place during the so-called
Dark Ages, in the early days of the feudal system, which is roughly
correct historically. Page 1926(1-6-74) was mislabeled as #1974.)
129) #1960(1 Sept 74) - 1972(24 Nov 74) Karak the Terrible
Hap Atla, King of the Inner Lands, seeks Aguar's help in saving his
kingdom from the giant Karak, whose power strikes terror in the hearts
of all who oppose him. Val is sent with an army. Val enters Karak's
camp posing as a wandering troubadour. Eventually, Karak decides to
kill the intruder, but Val tricks the simple giant into drowning in a
shallow river. Hap Atla's army makes quick work of the rest of Karak's
130) #1972(24 Nov 74) - 1975(15 Dec 74) The Improbable Journey
Val gives young Galan a hobby horse for his birthday, and Galan has
fantasies about riding it through exotic lands and rescuing fair
maidens in distress.
131) #1975(115 Dec 74) - 1980(19 Jan 75) The Lady of Quality
Kept inactive by a sprained ankle, Val amuses his family and gives
information to Court Historian Geoffrey by telling the story of how the
beautiful Lady Allison once saved the lives of Sir Gawain and his young
squire, Prince Valiant.
132) #1981(26 Jan 75) - 1999(1 Jun 75) The Pirate Raid
The evil, ambitious Bella Grossi attempts to assemble an empire by
laying waste to the Northern lands. Val sets sail for Thessalriga,
trade acaenter of the Baltic, to seek the aid of King Leofric in the
coming conflict. Val helps to secure the city, but the traitorous Lord
Dupuy undermines Thessalriga's defenses. Bella Grossi's raiders easily
enter the harbor. As a winter storm numbs the invaders, the hardy
Northmen fight back and repulse the pirates. Thessalriga is saved, and
Bella Grossi freezes to death when he tries to escape in a small,
uncovered boat. Val returns to Camelot, his messy work completed.
(Comment: The last panoramic drawing of the story, simply captioned
"Bella Grossi Returns to Thessalriga", is one of the most subtle,
grimly clever, and atmospheric panels ever done in the comic art
medium. It is an exemplary use of "visual-verbal blend," a term used
by analysts of comic art to describe the interdependence of words and
pictures, which is one of the defining hallmarks of good comic art and
was too seldom exhibited in Prince Valiant.)
133) #2000 (8 Jun 75) Milestones in the Story of Prince Valiant
A lighthearted review of Val's long exciting career, illustrated with
reprinted and/or redrawn panels by Hal Foster.
(Comment: KFS issued a large, full color poster/print of this
wonderful anniversary page, which was the last ever to be signed by
Foster and graced with his solo illustrations. Foster was said to have
continued doing the scripts and coloring, however, for several more
134) #2001(15 Jun 75) - 2032(18 Jan 76) Another Eventful Journey
Aleta must return to the Misty Isles, as royal decree requires her to
do every so often. Simultaneously, Val is bored in peaceful Camelot
and misses his family. Val impatiently leaves the city but is forced
to stop at a smelly little villa when the wintry weather gets too
severe. There he meets an old friend, the inept wizard (now
"physician") Oom-Fayat (Val's memory flashback to the first time he met
Oom (story 38) is illustrated by an old Foster drawing).
Val continues his journey across Britain with Oom tagging along. At
Londinium Val finds a ship and begins his journey to Thule. By chance
his ship overtakes that of Gundar Harl, which is taking Aleta to the
Misty Isles, and the entire family is together once more, except for
Arn, who remained in Thule.
("The Wild People," #2009-2014: Meanwhile, Arn grows restless at Thule
and decides to visit Lydia. While looking for a river crossing, he
gets lost in a maze of mountains and valleys. He meets the twin
princes, Hantz and Falla. When the aggressive Falla kills his brother
(and rival for the throne) in an angry skirmish, he is banished from
his homeland. Arn gladly leaves these brutal people.)
Val's ship lands at mid-journey for supplies. An evil wizard, Hashida,
falls in love with the beautuful Aleta. While the Queen of the Misty
Isles is shopping, Hashida hypnotizes and kidnaps her. Val tracks them
to Hashida's mountain retreat and rescues his beloved wife.
Val and his family continue their trip to the Misty Isles, and they are
asked to drop young Hector off at Spain. Hector becomes a victim of
the romantic mischief of the twins. At a Spanish port, the scheming
Duke Julian tries to reopen a profitable trade agreement with the Misty
Isles by befriending Aleta. When a ravaging fire breaks out in the
town, the serfs become enraged and storm Julian's palace. Prince
Valiant leads his family out of the pillaged mansion, not without some
difficulty. Hector is finally left at Cadiz, where he is to continue
After another stop to shop at Tangiers, the voyage is continued. Aleta
buys a young slave, Zilla, to be her secretary. Finally, the journey
is over, and the Queen of the Misty Isles resumes her throne. She
finds her kingdom peaceful.
(Comment: This adventure is said to be taking place "18 years" after
Val first met Aleta, which "actually" happened in page #208, 34 years
earlier in real time (see story #18). According to a letter in our
possession from Foster to fan Kurt Gore dated Jan. 1976, "...Prince
Valiant is approximately 38 at this time; Aleta-35; Arn,16; Twins, 14,
and Galan, 5 years old." However, internal evidence from the stories
(e.g. time said to have elapsed between events and other references to
the passage of time and seasons, etc.) can lead to several differing
estimates of the characters' ages and birthdates Again, Foster
seemingly became less concerned about a realistic and consistent
passage of time in these later stories.)
135) #2032(18 Jan 76) - 2050(23 May 76) Treasure of the Bats
Zilla, who now has little work to do, falls in love with Tamia, the
little handmaiden Aleta had also purchased in Tangiers. In order to
buy the girl from Aleta, Zilla leads Sir Valiant on a treasure hunt at
a ruined palace. The search almost ends in disaster when Val nearly
drowns in a pool of quicksand. After much careful investigation, Val
stumbles upon the treasure by falling into a stinking bat roost.
Satisfied with whatever wealth he could carry away, Zilla returns with
Val to the Misty Isles in order to regain his beloved Tamia.
136) #2050(23 May 76) - 2076(21 Nov 76) The Quest for Helene
Helene, Aleta's younger sister, is very unhappy. When her husband,
Dionseus, was banished for treachery and cowardice years earlier (story
#61), pride and love made her share his fate. Now, desparate for
money, Dionseus writes to Aleta asking for aid and threatening the
safety of Helene. Val gathers together a hardy crew and sets sail for
Samos and another confrontation with his brother-in-law.
Meanwhile, however, Dionseus has lost all his possessions, including
Helene, in a gambling game and is killed for cheating by the notorious
Corsair, Ajaxos. Helene is taken to Ajaxos' ship with the rest of his
plunder and they leave Samos just as Val arrives. After a long search,
Val finds Ajaxos' ship at Thessalonica. There, Val gets involved in
some violent political struggles, and there is much fighting before
Helene is finally rescued. Aleta's lovely dark-haired sister decides
to remain in Thessalonica and marry the new king, Telamon.
Val eagerly gets ready to return home. As usual, there is a delay -- a
violent barroom brawl with a bully named "Ivosh the Terrible" -- but
finally the long quest is completed without incident.
137) #2077(28 Nov 76) - 2093(29 Mar 77) King of the Minstrels
Arn, a future candidate for the throne of Thule, travels to Camelot to
study statecraft for a year or two. Sir Dinadan, the Court Jester, is
assigned by Arthur to be Arn's teacher. Arn and Dinadan eventually
take a leave of absence to attend a convention of troubadours in
France. Every three years, it seems, the entertainers gather at
Poitiers to elect their "King of Minstrels," and the present King,
Lazare, is an evil man who sends spies to every castle to gather
saleable information. Arn helps install Bertram, a benevolent and
deserving man, as the new King of the Minstrels. Arn and Dinadan
return to Camelot, disappointed that their trip brought little
138) #2093(20 Mar 77) - 2110(17 Jul 77) Quest for the Relics
Back at the Misty Isles, Val and Aleta take in Sir Gunther of Germany,
a heroic shipwreck victim. Gunther was traveling in search of valuable
holy relics that had been stolen from his family. Val accompanies
Gunther to Alexandria and Jerusalem in order to track the thieves. At
Jerusalem Val and Gunther stay as guests in the safety of Sheik Abdul
El Mohammed's palace. Gunther falls in love with the Sheik's daughter,
Zara, who nurses him back to health after he is injured in a tavern
brawl. With Val's aid Gunther tracks down and kills the thieves and
recovers the treasure. Gunther then asks the Sheik for Zara's hand in
marriage but is refused. Luckilky, he soon finds another girl to
court, while Val departs.
139) #2111(24 Jul 77) - 2128(20 Nov 77) Petropolis
Khazan II, Warlord of the Persians, is hungry for power and is marching
his army to Beirut. Aleta has traveled to Beirut on business but
leaves for the Mediterranean coast when she hears of the impending
trouble. Khazan's scouts follow and set upon Aleta's outnumbered
bodyguards, but she and her children escape to the hidden, beautuful,
ancient city of Petropolis. Val searches the deserts of the Middle
East for his family and finds them by a lucky coincidence. Khazan dies
by drowning when he and his men try to invade the well-protected city
Val and his family make the long journey back to the coast. ("The
Young Amazon, #2119-2128: Karen, who has always been tomboyish and
strong-willed, admired the feisty Queen Hypatia of Petropolis, and
starts pretending to be an Amazon warrior. Her enthusiasm goes too
far, and the girl cuts her hair short and buys a suit of armor. The
twins are then kidnapped by the mischievous Assur, son of a Sheik from
beyond the Jordan. Val and two men pursue the troublemakers and rescue
the twins, with the aid of Valeta's long, golden hair.) The five ride
back to Beirut.
140) #2129(27 Nov 77) - 2138(29 Jan 77) Here Come the Amazons
There is pirate trouble in the Misty Isles, and Aleta hurriedly returns
home with her family. The Royal Family takes in young Hector, a
supposed shipwreck victim who is actually a pirate spy. The traitor
soon escapes with much secret information. The main force of pirates
attacks and is defeated without much difficulty, but another group
secretly waits for an opening. Karen and the women are forced to
defend the palace until Val's army can return and finish of the
141) #2138(29 Jan 78) - 2156(4 Jun 78) Return to Camelot
Inspired by a letter from Arn, Val sails with his family to Camelot by
way of Marseilles. ("The Tournament," #2140-2143: At Marseilles, the
greedy Governor decides to sponsor a tournament starring the famous Sir
Valiant. One crazed knight takes the games too seriously and tries to
fight Val to the death. Naturally, Val does not lose.)
The next day Val and his family board a barge and journey north up the
Rhone River and across Gaul towards Britain. On the way they pick up
an interesting storyteller and have an unpleasant stop at Lyons, where
the haughty Afghan Caliph tries to buy Aleta ("No Sale," #2146-2150).
Then, they meet up with Val's old friend Sir Launcelot and are involved
in a short battle with King Claudas, Launcelot's hereditary enemy
("Galan to the Rescue," #2151-2154). Finally they sail with Launcelot
across the English Channel and, after a messy horse ride, arrive safely
142) #2157(11 Jun 78) - 2164(30 Jul 78) Conflict at Camelot
Arn is reunited with his family at Camelot. Arthur announces a great
tournament, which Val naturally wins. Arn gets into an argument with
Orland, a big youth who mistreats Valeta, but their conflict is soon
forgotten when the two young knights join forces to rescue Orland's
family from outlaws.
143) #2165(6 Aug 78) - 2173(1 Oct 78) The Sinister Stronghold
Tillicum, Arn's beloved nurse, comes to Camelot to seek Val's aid in
rescuing her kidnapped husband, Boltar. The Mad Earl of Lolland
demands an impossible ransom. Val and Arn sail to Daneland to destroy
the Mad Earl's grim castle and to rescue their friend from the horrible
prison. Val brings the sick Boltar back to Camelot for medical
attention. When Boltar recovers, young Prince Galan, who has never
seen Thule, decides to sail with him. Arn goes along to study
statecraft at Aguar's court.
144) #2173(1 Oct 78) - 2180(19 Nov 78) The Snowslide
At Boltar's northern home, Arn is happily reunited with Lydia and with
his old friend Hatha. Arn, Galan and Lydia travel on to Vikingsholm.
The two young lovers enjoy the winter together until the young girl is
killed in a horrible accident.
(Comment: Arn's reaction to Lydia's death is so understated that it
loses most of its tragedy and effectiveness -- an uncharacteristic
lapse in Foster's storytelling power.)
145) #2180(19 Nov 78) - 2197(18 Mar 79)The Neglected Bride-to-Be
At the first sign of Spring, Arn is off to find forgetfulness in
adventure. He meets Earl Chute's daughter, Grace, who is contracted to
marry the old King Hrothgar, and vows to free the young girl. With
some trickery, Arn forces Hrothgar to see his mistake and free Lady
Grace from the forced contract. Aguar is forced to banish the scheming
old man from Thule. Arn has gradually fallen in love with Grace and
asks her to marry him. She refuses, and Arn, dejected at losing two
sweethearts in one year, returns to Camelot, where he is reunited with
his family after a long absence.
(Comment: This story and the next two overlap considerably. Arn,
whose characterization in the 1978-1979 pages was a bit shallow and
inconsistent, is portrayed very differently from his father. Years
earlier Val had been grief-stricken for a long period of time after the
death of the maid Ilene and was unable to love another woman until he
met Aleta several years thereafter (1938-1941). For further discussion
of the many interesting personality differences between Val and Arn,
see Carl Horak's article in the fanzine Strip Scene #2, 1977.)
146) #2193(18 Feb 79) - 2202(22 Apr 79) A Family Affair
On the way back to Camelot, Arn picked up a bumbling companion, Sir
Edwin Fitzthrumpet. Edwin's father, Sir Mortrik, decides to enter a
tournament at Camelot in Edwin's place. Mortrik eventually realizes
that he is too old and out of shape and decides to devote himself to
training his son in the ways of knighthood.
147) #2200(8 Apr 79) - 2207(27 May 79) The Towering Giant
Sir Gawain and his squire Prince Arn leave on a new quest, the capture
of some bandits occupying the castle of Lord Condon of Wales. With the
help of a strange dwarf, the two knights quickly complete their task
and return home.
148) #2207(27 May 79) - 2209(10 Jun 79) Arvak's Daughter
Arvak, Val's faithful red stallion, dies of old age. Galan brings his
father a beautiful new white mare, which turns out to be Arvak's
daughter. Val proudly accepts his son's gift, and his sorrow is
149) #2209(10 Jun 79) - 2225(30 Sep 79)Galan Enters A New World
Val and Aleta take King Arthur's advice and decide to have Galan
trained as a palace page boy. This is the first step on the hard road
to knighthood. Galan rides away with gallant Sir Vanoc and his wife,
Lady Enid. One stormy night at a country inn, when all the men are out
on a mission, Galan singlehandedly saves Lady Enid from two miscreant
knights. Lady Enid soon becomes a surrogate mother to the boy, who
becomes pleased with his new home. One exciting winter day, Galan
bravely protects Enid from viscious wolves and from death exposure in
the winter forest. Lord Vanoc then takes Galan to Camelot for the
great tournament, and Galan is happy to see his family again.
150) #2226(7 Oct 79) - 2246(24 Feb 80) Trouble in the Irish Sea
At the great tournament at Camelot, Val meets a large, loud, red-faced
knight named named Karran, who has just come from the turbulent Isle of
Man to seek aid from Arthur in getting back his lands from marauding
Vikings. King Arthur calls a council of war. Prince Arn and two other
men are sent to find out if these Vikings pose a threat to Britain.
Arn finds that the fierce Northmen intend to remain and form a base
from which to raid both Ireland and Britain.
Arn infiltrates the Viking band but is held in suspicion by Thoralf the
Chieftain and also meets a strange group of little Irish people who are
also threatened by the Northmen. Stuck with the suspicious marauders,
Arn is unable to report his findings to King Arthur, but he finally
sneaks away and returns to Camelot. Gawain and Arn then return to the
Isle of Man with an army and vanquish the invaders without any help
from the irresponsible Karran. The knights bring the little people
back to their home in Ireland and then travel back to Camelot.
(Comment: This is the last story utilizing the talents of Hal Foster,
who retired at the end of 1979 at the age of 87(!). The last page
credited to him was #2241(20 Jan 80). The following week, John Cullen
Murphy's signature appeared for the first time, and the subtitle
"Created by Hal Foster" was added to the Prince Valiant logo. The
change in art is really not noticeable, for Murphy's style had
gradually taken over during the previous 9 years. The credits for the
script writing since Foster's retirement have not been publicized, but
we are informed that Murphy's son, Cullen, was responsible for most of
the Murphy stories. Cullen Murphy is also a well-known professional
historian and editor of the Smithsonian journal Wilson Quarterly.)
According to Foster (see interview in Cartoonist Profiles #22, 1974),
the transition from solo-Foster to solo-Murphy was gradual. In 1971,
Foster decided to become "semi-retired" ate age 79(!), left his
Redding, Connecticut studio, and moved to Spring Hill, Florida. The
exact timing is not clear, but it seems that Murphy did backgrounds for
"about a year" and then was allowed to begin to "sketch in the main
characters." By the mid-1970's, Murphy apparently was doing most of
the artwork, but Foster maintained active participation in writing,
rough layouts, and coloring until shortly before selling ownership of
the Prince Valiant feature to King Features Syndicate in 1979.
The difference between a 1980-2000 page and a 1960 or 1970 page is striking:
Murphy's art is undeniably well-composed and rendered, but his inking
has a rougher quality, and the panels are sparser in background
and detail, causing the strip to have a somewhat less convincing
setting and atmosphere. In Murphy's defense, however, it should
never be forgotten that the small printed size of modern Sunday comics
would never allow the expansive, richly detailed illustrations
of Foster's heyday.
During Foster's 44 years on Prince Valiant, he left a vast, brilliant
body of entertaining and educational work unmatched in quality and
scope by most other writers and artists of the 20th century, regardless
of media. It was revealing and satisfying to note during our research
for this publication just how consistent Foster was in his artwork.
There really were no bad pages or significant falling off in quality in
any of the Foster years. We find the 1950's pages to be among the
finest in both artwork and story, although the 1930's and 1940's could
also easily be called the most memorable, story-wise.
The only possible criticism about Foster's work is that it shows
somewhat of a lack of experimentation and stylistic development; once
Foster "hit his stride" in the 1940's, his style never developed
further. Therefore, the strip became a bit repetitive over the years
in art and story. The commercial, restrictive, artistically unsophisticated
nature of the newspaper comic strip business may certainly have been a
major cause of this, perhaps along with complacency by Foster.
Nevertheless, Foster's writing always showed considerable humor, verve,
and human insight, and his illustrations were always beautiful
and technically flawless. It is perhaps enough to say in retrospect
that Foster's main achievement (aside from the actual body
of work, which was impressive enough in itself) was not to actually
expand the parameters of comic art but rather to set a very high
standard of proficiency and quality for the rest of the field to live
up to and --dare we hope?-- someday surpass.
SUMMARY AND OVERVIEW OF THE LIFE OF PRINCE VALIANT OF THULE:
Prince Valiant has been one of the few comic strips to portray a
reasonably realistic progression of time in the lives of its
characters. Gasoline Alley is the only other obvious example that
comes to mind. It has been said that at one time Foster had plotted
out Val's entire life from cradle to grave. Arn was eventually to
become the bearer of the `Singing Sword'. These plans, which would be
absolutely fascinating to see, were eventually dropped, probably when
Foster realized his creation could run indefinitely.
Time passage is a thorny problem for continuity strips. Even an
otherwise realistic comic strip cannot be totally accurate and literal
in time, since real adult characters would have to grow old and die
over the long run of a successful strip. Therefore, perhaps in order to
avoid portraying a doddering middle-aged ex-knight by the 1970's (which
perhaps could have yielded some interesting stories...!), Foster and
Murphy appear to have slowed down time to a variable extent in the
strip, so that approximately 25 years of fictional time are supposed to
have passed during the 44 years of Foster's tenure on Prince Valiant.
Val started as a teenager and is now in his 40's, with children who are
themselves now up to their teens and twenties in some cases. The time
progression was more realistic and consistent in the earlier years of
the strip than in the later years.
Although we have made an attempt to outline a consistent timeline of
the life of Prince Valiant, it must be acknowledged that Foster himself
apparently either did not keep careful enough track of the timing of
events in his own stories or else intentionally avoided trying to keep
a consistent chronology for various reasons. During our work on this
publication, we noticed several times that while Foster frequently
referred to previous stories and events, the passages of times cited
were inconsistent and obviously incorrect. For example, Hatha
(Boltarson) is noted to be 12 in 1966, yet the Twins, who were born a
year before Hatha, are noted to be 12 in 1968 and again in 1970. Some
other examples are mentioned at various points in the index.
Therefore, any attempt to impose a rigid chronology on the later years
of the strip is partly arbitrary. Nevertheless, this time-line is
still roughly accurate, gives a nice overview and perspective on Val's
career, and serves as a useful index for quickly locating major events
NOTE: The time-line presented below is based on the timing of
historical events mentioned in the strip and on mentions of the passage
of time and seasons in the stories. The Sack of Rome in AD 455,
depicted in story #30, is used as the base reference point. Several
other historical incidents referred to in the strip could also have
been used, which would merely have shifted the hypothetical time-line
by a few years.
Hypothetical Events Year of Publication
----------- ------ -------------------
ca. AD 433: Prince Valiant is born to King Aguar 1937-1938.of Thule and nameless mother.
ca. 436: Birth of Aleta, future Queen of the Misty Isles.
ca. 439: (Strip begins). Aguar deposed by Sligon, exiled to Fens of Britain.
ca. 446: Horrit prophesizes life of adventure and discontent for young Val. Val's mother dies.
ca. 447-8: Val leaves home in search of adventure, meets Gawain and Launcelot, visits Camelot for first time, becomes Gawain's squire, meets Ilene, studies with Merlin.
ca. 449: Death of Ilene. Val given `Singing 1938-1939.
Sword' by Prince Arn of Ord. 10th Saxon
Saxon invasion of England defeated, Val
knighted. Aguar regains throne of Thule from Sligon.
ca. 450-451: Attila conquers Italy and Andelkrag 1939-1940.
(which actually occurred in AD 452-455).
Val fights Huns, visits Rome.
ca. 451-453: Val regains `Singing Sword' from 1940-1944.
Angor Wrack, meets Aleta, makes first
pilgrimage to Holy Land, visits Greece and
Africa with Boltar, returns to Camelot, scouts
Roman wall, returns home to Thule in disguise.
Gundar Harl introduced, becomes shipbuilder of Thule.
("MEDIEVAL CASTLE" RUNS 1944-1945).
ca. 454: Val kidnaps Aleta, drags her across Africa. 1944-1945.
-->A.D. 455: Val becomes Emperor of Saramand, 1945-1946.
Marries Aleta during Sack of Rome
(-> Reference point for chronology).
Honeymoon in France; couple returns
to Camelot with Katwin. War in royal forest.
Mordred plots against throne. Aleta
meets Aguar in Thule.
ca. 456-457: Aleta kidnapped by Ulfrun, Val and 1947-1949.
Vikings rescue her across ocean, discover
America; Prince Arn born in America; Indian
Princess Tilllicum becomes his nursemaid.
Return to Camelot; Arn christened along with
Prince Valiant, son of Prince Arn of Ord.
ca. 457-459: Picts driven back into Scotland by 1949-1952.
King Arthur's forces. Val returns to Thule
then goes on missionary voyage to Rome.
Geoffrey (Arf) becomes official historian of
Thule and begins to compile "The Chronicles",
putative source of the Prince Valiant stories.
Twins Karen and Valeta born in Thule during
Val's absence. Boltar and Tillicum fall in love
ca. 460-463: Arn kidnapped. Val spreads Christianity 1952-1956.
in Thule. Saxon raiders again defeated. Val
meets Saint Patrick. Aleta returns to Misty
Isles and reestablishes her authority. Val
and Gawain go on 2nd pilgrimage to Holy Land.
Overland trip back to Thule; Aleta kidnapped
by Dragda Khan.
ca. 463-465: Val returns to Camelot, crushes rebellion 1956-1960.
in Cornwall. Arvak becomes Val's warhorse.
Visit to London; return to Thule. Arn goes
away to Inner Lands for training. Council
of Kings held in Thule. Val and Aleta return
to Camelot, stay in London. Val cleans out
Saxon camps. Merlin led into limbo by Nimue
the water maiden. Val rescues Gawain in Wales.
ca 465-470: Quest for the Holy Grail; St. Patrick 1960-1964.
(actually d. 461) settles issue negatively.
Arn returns to his family. Return to Misty
Isles; Galan born there; Arn gives up inheritance
to throne of Isles to Galan. Val takes Arn on
trade mission to Holy Land, Syria, Babylon.
Missions in Rome (where Empire crumbling) and
Gaul. Misadventures with Monk Wojun in Camelot.
Siege of Carlisle. Launcelot and Guinevere's
romance causes conflict in Camelot. Battle of
Badon Hill (final Saxon invasion). Guerilla
war in Thule.
ca. 470-475: (Timeline no longer consistent) 1965-1980
Arn in America. Mordred's invasion.
Holiday at seashore, adventures in Camelot.
Val and Gawain held as slaves in Dathram,
lead revolt. Misty Isles navy rearmed against
invaders. Return to Camelot; during trip,
near Barbary Coast, Aleta and twins kidnapped
by El Muluk. Katwin marries Helge Hakkon.
Peace with Saxons maintained with difficulty.
Diplomatic mission in Wales. Geoffrey
marries Adele. Arn held for ransom in Wales.
Age of chivalry envelops Camelot (anachronism).
Val rescues Arn from Morgan Le Fay. Aleta and
Val separate over jealously and misunderstanding;
Aleta returns to Misty Isles while Val wanders
about Britain; couple reunited after Val's
roundabout trip across Africa. (JC Murphy art
begins.) Adventures in Aegean area, then
return to Camelot. Arn visits Thule with Boltar's
son Hatha, falls in love with Lydia Haakon,
wanders about Europe when she mistakenly rejects
him. Couple finally reunited in Thule.
Siege of Thessalriga. Aleta's sister Helene's
husband killed; Helene marries King Telamon of
Thessalonica. Arn studies statecraft at Camelot.
Tomboy Karen emulates Amazon. Misty Isles defended
against pirates. Val returns to Camelot via France,
rescues Boltar from kidnappers, takes Galan and Arn
to Thule. Arn's girlfriend Lydia killed in snowslide;
dejected Arn meets and rejected by another girl,
Grace, then returns to Camelot. Arvak dies of old age.
Galan brought to Britain to be trained as palace
pageboy. War in Irish Sea.
(Foster writing ends).
PRINCE VALIANT/HAL FOSTER BIBLIOGRAPHY
Luckily for readers and collectors of comic art, all of the Prince
Valiant strips by Hal Foster (and some by John Cullen Murphy as well)
have been reprinted. Too many isolated examples and single pages have
been reprinted in articles and books about Foster of the history of
comics in general to possibly compile a list. Rather, what we have
attempted to do is compile a complete list of publications that have
reprinted substantial runs of Prince Valiant pages, in English,
followed by a partial list of noteworthy articles about Foster and
PRINCE VALIANT REPRINTS (Chronological thru 2004):
Ace Comics #26-134, David McKay Publications., 1939-1947 (Prince
Valiant Pages #1-436).
King Comics #146,147, David McKay Pubs., 1940 (PV #437-443).
Feature Book #26, Mckay, 1941 (PV #1-28,30-64).
Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur, Hastings House, 1951 (PV #1-
103, text adaptation by Max Trell with illustrations from Foster).
Prince Valiant Fights Atilla the Hun, H.H. ca 1952 (PV #103-169).
Prince Valiant on the Inland Sea, H.H. ca. 1953 (PV #169-251).
Prince Valiant's Perilous Voyage, H.H. ca. 1954 (PV #251-350).
Prince Valiant and the Golden Princess, H.H. ca. 1955 (PV #350-434
(incomplete), adaptation by James Flowers).
Prince Valiant in the New World, H.H. ca. 1956 (PV #467-70,508-593).
Prince Valiant and the Three Challengers, H.H. ca. 1957 (PV #593-683).
The Menomonee Falls Gazette #95-223, ST Enterprises, 1973-1976 (PV
Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur, Nostalgia Press and King
Features Syndicate, 1974 (PV #1-153).
Prince Valiant Vol. 2: Companions in Adventure, Nostalgia/KFS, 1974
Prince Valiant #1, ST Enterprises, ca. 1975 (PV #1-15).
Prince Valiant Vol. 3: Queen of the Misty Isles, Nostalgia/KFS, 1978
Prince Valiant Vol. 4: Adventures in Two Worlds, Nostalgia/KFS, 1978
Prince Valiant 1954, Pacific Comics Club, 1979 (PV #882-933).
Prince Valiant 1955, Pacific Comics Club, 1979 (PV #934-985).
Prince Valiant 1956, Pacific Comics Club, 1979 (PV #986-1038).
Prince Valiant 1956, Pacific Comics Club, 1979 (PV #1039-1090).
Prince Valiant 1957-1959, Pacific Comics Club, 1978 (PV #1085-1145).
Prince Valiant 1959, Pacific Comics Club, 1983 (PV #1143-1194).
Prince Valiant 1960, Pacific Comics Club, 1983 (PV #1195-1246).
Prince Valiant 1963-1965, Pacific Comics Club, 1978 (PV #1393-1456).
Prince Valiant Scrapbook, Bill Crouch/KFS, 1981 (PV #434-464).
Prince Valiant 1937,1938,1939,1940,1958, Comic Gallery, 1983-1984.
Prince Valiant -- An American Epic, Vols. 1,2,3, Manuscript Press,
1982,1984,1993 (PV 1937,1938,1939).
Prince Valiant Vol.1-50, Fantagraphics Books, 1984-2004
(Reprinted entire Foster run of PV in 50 tab sized color volumes.)
Official Prince Valiant, Prince Valiant Monthly, Pioneer Comics, 1988
(Comment: It must be stressed that the numerous Prince Valiant
reprints listed above are highly variable in quality. The comic books
and Nostalgia Press books suffer from poor reproduction and slight
incompleteness. The Hastings House books were not actual strip
reprints but rather prose adaptations of Foster's stories (accompanied
by many but not all of the original illustrations, in black and white).
The Pacific Comics Club and Fantagraphics volumes, while weakened by
some weaknesses in coloring and reproduction, are overall among the
best reprints because of their completeness, affordability, and
generally attractive format. Rick Norwood's Manuscript Press editions
are surely the definitive version -- the best and most authentic that
could possibly be done. Their full page size, beautiful original
coloring, perfect paper and printing, and use of original artwork
provide the ultimate in comic strip reprinting for those connoisseurs
who can afford to buy and store these luxurious giant folios.)
NON-FOSTER PRINCE VALIANT MATERIAL:
Comic Books: Dell Four Color/One-Shot Series, ca. 1954-1958:
Prince Valiant issues #650, 699, 719, 788, 849, 900 (original stories,
art by Bob Fuji). Also #567 (adaptation of Prince Valiant movie.)
Motion Picture: Prince Valiant (1954) starring Robert Wagner.
Coloring Book: The Prince Valiant Coloring Book (no info).
NON-P.V. COMIC ART WORK BY FOSTER:
Tarzan: Daily strips: January to June 1929
Adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes.
(Reprinted as The Illustrated Tarzan Book).
Sunday strips, #29(27 Sept 1931) - #321(2 May 1937).
(Reprinted by House of Greystoke and NBM Pubs.).
The Medieval Castle: 1/3 page appendage to Prince Valiant pages
#376-459 (1944-1945). Reprinted in the Fantagraphics PV series.
A Hastings House adaptation book appeared in the 1950's.
The Song of Bernadette: Limited-run daily strip from 1942,
adapting Franz Werfel's novel. Reprinted by
Hooka Publications, 1970.
The Christmas Story: Limited-run 1948 newspaper strip by Foster.
ARTICLES ABOUT HAL FOSTER AND PRINCE VALIANT:
Obviously it would be impossible at this date to compile a
complete list of all publications in all media which have ever
mentioned Hal Foster or Prince Valiant. Every book or article on
the history of comic strips, for example, of necessity has a
passage on Foster's important contributions to comic art.
Therefore, we have only listed here some of the more recent or
noteworthy articles specifically on Foster and his creations
which we are aware of. Further information can be found, of
course, in the various comics history books and in the Prince
Valiant reprint books listed above.
Adventure Scene/Postal Scripts #1 (Carl Horak, 1975).
Article on elements of magic in PV.
Cartoonist Profiles #22 (June, 1974).
Foster interviewed by Bill Crouch on the occasion of the
publication of the Nostalgia Press reprint books.
Cartoonist Profiles #24 (December, 1974).
John Cullen Murphy interviewed by Bill Crouch, particularly
regarding his work on Prince Valiant.
Cartoonist Profiles #58 (1983).
More recent interview with Murphy discussing his complete
takeover of the Prince Valiant feature.
Comics Journal #63(May, 1981).
An aesthetic discussion of Foster's art and storytelling
Fandom Annual #3 (ca. 1970). Interview with Foster.
Heroes Illustrated #3 (Spring, 1968).
One of the best brief histories of the Prince Valiant strip,
movie, and reprints.
Strip Scene #2 (Winter, 1977), #20 (Summer, 1982).
Articles about Arn and Val's 'Singing Sword'.
Near Mint #2 (1980).
Interesting page about Foster's drawing technique.
Near Mint #19 (March, 1982).
Reprint of "Prince Valiant's Hal Foster", a long article
from a 1945 issue of Pageant Magazine.
Nemo #9 (1984). Interview with and artwork by Foster.