PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 4: 1943-1944 (Fantagraphics, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Prince Valiant Sunday strips 308-412, originally published on January 3, 1943- December 31, 1944
Writer and Artist: Hal Foster
It takes me forever to get through one of these books. I sit and stare at the artwork so long that I spend months and months reading each volume.
Prince Valiant is set to return home to Thule and has several minor adventures along the way. Nothing makes Val happy, as his heart yearns for the hand of Queen Aleta of the Misty Isles. So he does what any young man would do: he goes out and finds her. This is where the book ends, with Val kidnapping her on the eve of when she is going to pick a suitor to marry. Val and Aleta are on the run, being pursued by Aleta's subjects.
This stuff is required reading for lovers of art. There aren't many artists who are Hal Foster's peer, and his writing remains sharp and witty many decades later. I know that many comic book fans are leery of dipping their toes into the waters of the newspaper strips, but if you have ever been curious about how serious comics started then pick this book up. The writing and artwork are head and shoulders above anything published at the time and hold up even today.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- While presented smaller than the original publications, these books are large enough that you get the feel of the artwork and can read the text with ease. They are also easier to handle than many strip books which are unwieldy due to the dimensions of newspapers 70-odd years ago.
Linework and Color restoration: The strips are scanned from pristine syndicate proofs. Color restoration is faithful to the original strips.
Paper stock: Matte coated stock with the slightest sheen to it.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image part of the paper of the casewrap. Portion around the spine has a faux leather casewrap.