Monday, March 21, 2005

On A Dark Scottish Loch

Prince Valiant began when Hal Foster, who had spent several years drawing the popular "Tarzan" feature, was asked by William Randolph Hearst to create a strip for Hearst's chain of newspapers. Thrilled by tales of chivalry, Foster returned to the rich literary tradition of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and created Prince Valiant, first appearing on Feb. 13, 1937. It remains unique in the world of contemporary comic features, with its combination of narrative adventure and sometimes humorous family drama, its bold artistic realism combined with hints of fantasy, and its historical accuracy in the portrayal of life "in the days of King Arthur." It is a historical novel in serialized form, one in which characters have more than two dimensions — the virtuous have flaws, and the villainous are frequently not without some small virtue.

Currently the strip is in the capable hands of writer Mark Schultz and artist Gary Gianni. The image below is from the March 6th, 2005 strip and foreshadows Price Valiant’s coming battle with a plesiosaur in the waters of a Scottish Loch.

Schultz is perhaps best known for writing and drawing his own critically acclaimed book, Xenozoic Tales, that was adapted as the CBS animated series Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. Along the way he also found time to co-create and co-write the Dark Horse series, SubHuman, with the palaeoblogger.

Gianni’s artwork has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, paperbacks, comic books and children’s books. Both men have recently been producing hundred’s of original illustrations and dozens of oil paintings for a series of books collecting the original stories of Robert E. Howard for prestigious publisher Wandering Star including Conan of Cimmeria, Vol. 1 for Schultz, and The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane and Conan of Cimmeria, Vol. 2 for Gianni.