Back in the ‘90s, Fantagraphics began releasing a proposed 40-volume softcover set of Prince Valiant with the intention of having the entirety of Hal Foster’s epic in print at the same time. Although the project eventually lasted 50 volumes, I don’t think all of them remained in print though completion. Shortly after the project was completed, the same publisher began releasing a series of hardcovers, each on approximately three times the length, reproduced from the artist’s proofs, and those volumes (17 so far) have remained in print.
During Foster’s time on the strip (1937-1970), he maintained a consistent timeline. Val ad Aleta were married during the sack of Rome in A.D. 455; the rest of the timeline can be extrapolated from that. The strip begins circa A.D. 439 when Val was approximately six years old. As the story begins, Val’s father, Aguar, King of Thule, was deposed by Sligon and exiled to the Fens of Britain. Strips #2-9 deal with Val’s boyhood, ages 6-13. In strip #10, Horrit the witch prophecies a life of adventure and discontent. In strips #11, Val’s mother dies.
Skipping ahead a year, in strip #12 (circa A.D. 447), a 14-year-old Prince Valiant leaves home in search of adventure. Highlights of the early strips include: #13, her meets Sir Launcelot; #14-15, he tames a wild horse; #16, he meets Sir Gawain and becomes his squire; #17-18, the fight a “dragon” (in reality, a giant sea crocodile); #19, he arrives in Camelot for the first time. The story skips ahead to the spring of 448, and Val accompanies Gawain on a false quest in strips #23-37 (actually, a plot to hold Gawain for ransom).
LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – FEBRUARY 1932:
Flophouse Bill remembers Trixie Tinkle’s real name is Eliza Blob. On the 4th, Bill and Wun wey meet for the first time. On the 9th, Warbucks introduces Trixie to Bill and Wun Wey and Annie. Bill sees through her right away, but keeps his mouth shut. “When a man has his mind made up about a woman,” he says, “no one but a fool will try to interfere.” Annie is skeptical, but keeps on open mind. Wun Wey is inscrutable.
The next day, Trixie takes Annie shopping… with Warbucks’ money. On the 16th, Bill and Wun Wey and Doc Lens resolve to talk to Warbucks about Trixie. One by one, they all try and fail. On the 20th, Trixie reveals her true feelings about Annie in confidence to her friend Gypsy Gay.
Oh, I almost forgot! Still in my “Scottish phase” I read…
“The Last of Clan McDuck” – Uncle Scrooge #285 (set in 1877)
“The New Laird of Castle McDuck” – Uncle Scrooge #289 (set in 1885)
“The Old castle’s Secret” – Donald Duck (Four Color) #189 (1948)
The latter is by Carl Barks and the two prequels are by Don Rosa.
DOCTOR JEKYLL & MR. HYDE (CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED): Robert Louis Stephenson based Jeckyll & Hyde on Deacon Brodie, whose pub I visited in Edinburgh. I also read the novella (for the first time) on the trip over. It’s too bad I knew the premise in advance; it otherwise would have been quite suspenseful. The CI version is a faithful adaptation.
Man, you don't want to get stuck talking to Fountainhead at a party.
Doctor Hmmm? said:
And Fountainhead would be a great ('90s) Substitute Legionnaire.
I've continued reading the 5YL Legion stories. I think I'm up to number 15 now? Tenzil Kem and Calorie Queen facing off against Evillo.
This book really was kind of a tapestry, wasn't it?
...I didn't expect much of the Lex//Porky crossover, the " most bland " of the Loony characters...But it's actual satiric, satirizing Internet boom/start-up/social media culture!!!!!!!
In strip #38, Prince valiant and Gawain return to Camelot during the tournament of the Queen’s Diamonds on Winchester Heath. (It is April, A.D. 448.) #39 formally introduces Ilene, a young girl seeking a knight to free her parents, held hostage in their own castle by a band of outlaws. Val is smitten with Ilene. Gawain takes up the quest but is soon injured in a dual with a red knight and must recuperate at a monastery while Val fulfils the quest.
The leader of the outlaw band is “The Ogre of Sinstar Wood.” There is something theatrical about his appearance, so Val decides to turn his own tactics against him. Killing a goose ad using its skin to make a mask, #46 gave Jack Kirby the inspiration for his own character, The Demon, decades later. Val’s antic send most of the outlaws fleeing in fear, but two of them remain. He has a spot of trouble dealing with the final two, but once they are dispatched, he frees the Thane of Branwyn from the dungeon and sets about the task of wooing his daughter.
He asks for Ilene’s hand in marriage, but unfortunately the Thane has signed a contract with the King or Ord promising her to Prince Arn. Then Val gets word that Gawain has been carried off from the monastery by a sorceress. Val leaves to free him, vowing to return. The sorceress in question in Morgan Le Fey, half-sister to King Arthur, who has been in love with Gawain for a long time. Knowing the fates of her former husbands, however, Gawain spurns her advances.
Val arrives at Dolorous Garde, Le Fey’s castle, and immediately falls under her spell (meaning she drugs him). He is suffering from hallucinations, but knows she is drugging his wine. He is able to use his hat and a rope to get water from the mote, though. With his head now clear, Val uses his belt buckle to pry a bar from his cell window. Once he has escaped, he replaces the bar, thereby leaving a mystery behind. He then sets off for Camelot, 30 miles away.
LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – MARCH 1932:
On February 29th, Warbucks announces that he married Trixie that afternoon. “Daddy” invites Annie along on their Honeymoon cruise, which doesn’t sit well with his new bride. By the end of the first week, a Sunday strip, Trixie has taken to kicking Sandy in private. In fact, the Sunday strips become “Trixie vs. Sandy” vehicles for a while. (I have not forgotten how much I hate Trixie.) As they are preparing t leave on their cruise, word comes from Spike Marlin about trouble in Warbucks’ Oriental shipping company. Warbucks doesn’t feel he can neglect his business at this point, and cancels the trip. It is at this point Trixie begins her campaign against Sandy in earnest.
In another Sunday strip, Trixie takes Sandy to the dog pound ad pays the man $5 to have him euthanized. She then takes a long lunch, planning to tell Annie that Sandy ran away during a walk. But when she returns home, she finds Sandy there waiting for her.
Trixie dislikes Bill, too. He lives in the same building as Warbucks, which is also where they have their business, and he drops by frequently. Trixie refers to him as an “ugly little runt” and says things that are even more distasteful. She makes fun of his legs to his face. Her tactics work as Bill moves across town. Warbucks questions Trixie, but she tries to shift the blame to Annie.
On Sunday, Trixie turns Sandy over to two thugs and pays then $50 to kill him. They put him into a burlap sack with some scrap iron and throw him off their boat into the harbor and wait 10 minutes before they leave. But Sandy somehow escapes and finds his way home. Now he openly growls at Trixie.
Next Trixie sets her sights against Wun Wey. She makes a snide comment about the laundry, but he brushes it off. Next, she insults Doc Lens by suggesting he do veterinary work on Sandy, but he flips it around, insinuating that Sandy has more breeding than she does. Spike Marlin flies into town to discuss business, and Warbucks sets up a dinner for him to meet Bill and Doc Lens and Wun Wey, but one by one they all decline the invitation.
Trixie decides to make a play for Spike, imagining a handsome sailor, but she chages her mind when she sees he’s an old salt. She openly snubs him by sneering at him and yawning in his face. He cuts his visit short, and Warbucks is genuinely perplexed that all his friends seem to be deserting him.
...The day before this last day:
Finishing off a sampling of pre-TV era newspaper comic strip THE BUNGLE FAMILY in a HOGAN'S ALLEY issue.
Finishing the SUPERMAN UNCHAINED book.
This last day:
THE WRONG WORLD #1
VAULT OF HORROR #21 in a Russ Cochran EVc annual - Whatta horror comic cover (& story)! Whoooh hooh. Whooah Nellie!
...I think this Cochran EC had a different numbering than the original"s #32...and it had a " director's cut " - a heh heh heh - version of the actual issued original cover of the EC-isssue #32,,,which was distinctly too spicy for the newsstands of the 50s, even the pre-Code period! Settle down, Beavis. Anyhow, I'd buy a T-shirt of that Cochran cover!
On his way to Camelot, Prince Valiant first comes upon Merlin’s tower and he enlists the wizard’s help. Morgan Le fey would murder Gawain at the approach of an armed force, Merlin asserts. He can cast a spell on her, but he needs a possession she values highly, so he sends Val back to Dolorous Garde. Val is able to capture her favorite hunting falcon. Merlin’s spell works and Gawain in released. (Foster would soon back away from these purely supernatural elements in favor of more scientific explanations.) Val holds off pursuit by stringing a cross across the roadway.
Val is eager to win Ilene, but Gawain insists they first report back to Camelot. There, Arthur announces that all knights are invited to a tournament at Ord to celebrate the marriage of Arn to Ilene. Val is crushed. Early the next morning, Val sets out alone to seek Arn and fight him for Ilene’s hand. On the way, he sees evidence of Viking raiders. He meets Arn on a frail bridge. They tilt and Arn falls into the water. His heavy armor drags him down, but Val quickly doffs his and saves Arn from drowning. (He wants to win in a fair fight.) With Arn’s equipment lost, they set off together in search of arms to continue their duel.
LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: From time to time, I plan to transcribe “words of wisdom” from the strip, usually some comment to illustrate how little things have changed over the intervening years.
“Whenever conditions get really too bad, decent people always get together and run the crooks to cover – but, once the job is completed, the decent people relax and the crooks come right back again. There’s nothing new about that. Crooks are crooks and are looked down on – but how about the so-called respectable people? Are they so very good when they allow their poorer neighbors to suffer? Respectable people, eh? Lazy, selfish, self-centered, many of them. I calim anybody who can see others suffer, without doing what he can to help, is as bad as any crook – just because a man says he’s not responsible is no excuse – if we are able to help but we don’t help, we are responsible.” – “Daddy” Warbucks, 1932