If you’ve ever read the Sunday
comics, your eye probably skimmed over the lush and exotic artwork of Prince
Valiant. Chances are you’ve seen it, but never read it, except for that time
you tried, because it was there and it looked so beautiful. You may have wondered, who reads this?
Here is another take on the history of the strip.
| You can read a history of the Prince Valiant Comic strip at the link above.|
Prince Valiant has likely been in
the newspapers as long as you have been looking at them. He began his Arthurian quest, through the sixth century, in 1937. Other American comics have longer
runs. Since Little Orphan Annie finally left syndication (1924-2010), Prince
Valiant is the sixth-oldest, active strip behind Blondie
(1930-present), Popeye (1919-present), Barney Google and Snuffy Smith
(1919-present), Gasoline Alley (1918-present), and Katzenjammer Kids
(1897-present). The other old timers, though, deal with some aspect of American
culture, while Prince Valiant inhabits an age so far removed from our own,
reading it requires energetic imagining and historical recollection.
Some people adopted the comics pages
before they could read, using a picture-reading skill to narrate a story. As
words became available the deeper treats emerged, and, at first, the characters
with fewer words conquered the more loquacious ones. For many, Prince Valiant
remains a foreign land.
This link goes to a PDF offered by the blog, Free Comic Book Day.
The above link is to the Wikipedia entry for Prince Valiant.
Like, Krazy Kat, another comic
strip of the twenties and thirties that enticed a narrow but dedicated
following, Prince Valiant scores high enough in the reader polls to keep its
syndication. Unlike Krazy Kat, Prince Valiant is not whimsical, or humorous, or
intellectually challenging. It taps a different inner spring:
adventure. Prince Valiant connects to an older strain of human entertainment, one that originated
before Hal Foster drew his first Prince Valiant in 1937, before the
introduction of Katzenjammer Kids in 1897, before Chaucer, before Beowulf, before the
Roman and Greek playwrights. Prince Valiant reaches all the way down to Homer, the original rhapsode
of wander lust.
Prince Valiant is on a changeable quest, an
epic adventure. He is always meeting the
next foe, seeking the next lost person or thing, overcoming the next obstacle,
and defeating the strongest and most devilish of villains. And through it all, since
1937, his story has been told with a graphic eloquence worthy of Homer. Hal Foster
began the tradition of gorgeous artwork, skillfully drawn in bold, flowing
lines. He personally selected the artist to replace him, and the tradition has
been faithfully carried forward. Carefully selected authors script the
stories, with a tradition of fidelity to the ever-expanding canon.
This link is to the blog, Web Comic Overlook, which is not a particular fan of Prince Valiant.
The link above is to the blog, A Prince Named Valiant.
There don’t seem to be published
studies on Prince Valiant’s readership. Anecdote, though, indicates strong
feelings distributed into mismatched populations. The links below go to some blog discussions.
It is an artfully done comic strip. Its stories are
more adult, and less silly than most things on the comics page. It will probably
continue to interrupt the scanning glance, even as it speaks to its small, but
stable readership. “Who reads this thing?” many will continue to ask. No one
will answer, because the readers won’t hear the question.
This final link is to a 1994 article in Atlantic Magazine. Prince Valiant has important friends.
HERE ARE SOME PRINCE VALIANT COMMENTS DECORATING THE BLOGOSPHERE
- I'm named after Prince Valiant's wife, because my dad is the kind of super cool guy who reads Prince Valiant.
- When I was young Prince Valiant books could be collected at a local
little supermarket. I've still got them all and now my children read
them. (after I've told them to be careful). I would dream about being
Aleta and then Valiant would come to the rescue and kiss me.
- They should let us vote to get rid of a comic.. who the hell reads apartment 3g, prince valiant, mary worth, etc.?
- But what I remember best were the swell Sunday comics which we called
the funnies: Maggie and Jiggs, Dagwood and Blondie, The Little King,
Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, all the good ones.
Does anyone who reads the Sunday Comics read Prince Valiant?
- Prince Valiant is a REAL STORY !!!!! I thought.
- but is he gay???
- And who reads Prince Valiant nowadays? Is it still in syndication in America?
- First, Prince Valiant. I
admit, I was gratified to learn that I am not the only person out there
who reads Prince Valiant religiously. It's one of my favorite strips,
mostly because the artwork is so good.
- I understand folks who have
trouble following it: Foster often played fast and loose with history.
But there is a uniqueness about it that I enjoy.
- These are big stories from low culture.
- I tried to follow Prince Valiant for a while.
- Yeah good luck finding someone who reads that.
Only annoying little gaywads read the funnies.
- I have read every prince valiant stripe.
- I probably haven't read the comics since I was that young, so I looked
through them to see if some of my favorites were still there. The only
one that 's still being published is Blondie--that was on my top 10
along with Little Lulu, Nancy, Winnie Winkle, and Archie--boy am I
dating myself! And there's others that are still around like Peanuts,
Beetle Bailey and Prince Valiant--who reads Prince Valiant
anyway?!--well somebody obviously did and still does.
- I must admit that I read Prince Valiant when I was a kid.
- That happens when we go from our kid selves to our current state. I
didn’t read Prince Valiant as a kid even though Dad loved it. I catch
it now at Comics Kingdom.
- Who reads Prince Valiant or Mary Worth and why?
- for the life of me I can't figure out who reads strips such as Prince
Valiant, Alley Oop, Mary Worth and other comic strips taking up valuable
- Don't be dissin on my man Prince Valiant!
- Historically the comics are not very correct. Late medieval knights fight against Romans, Huns and Vikings.
- Jesus, who reads this stuff?
- Skipped over Prince Valiant yesterday like I always do. Prince Valiant sucks.
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