Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review- PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 3: 1941-1942

PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 3: 1941-1942 (Fantagraphics, Second Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects Prince Valiant Sunday strips 204-307, originally published on January 5, 1941- December 27, 1942

Writer and Artist: Hal Foster

I have fallen down the rabbit hole of comic strips. Gone is my interest in most modern comic books, replaced by the high art of Hal Foster and the rest of the geniuses who blazed the trail that folks take for granted nowadays. I fear that I have become something of a snob in my quest for the best of the best that this medium has to offer.

Hal Foster's wit is as sharp as his pen, with tongue planted firmly in cheek in regard to the institution of marriage. While the humor is so subtle that it might not seem particularly witty by today's hyper-saracastic standards it is well beyond what was going on in strips at the time. Foster is one of my top five artists of all time. He spent as much as 60 hours a week working on each strip, and it shows. This strip is way more detailed than it had to be. It blows my mind that Foster put so much effort into each panel for something that was essentially a throw away item. Think about it, folks- there were no collected edition like this in the early '40s, really, and not many people collected these strips. They were read and then thrown away.

Comic strips were where the money was, which is why the best artists worked on them. Compare this to any comic book of 1941-1942 and this blows it away. Syndicated strips were where the cash was. Comic books were the ghetto. The more I dig into the world of strips the less interested I am in modern comics, with the poor writing and cheap gimmicks.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Fantagraphics always produces top shelf high quality product. Their books may run fashionably late, but you'll never have to buy an “upgraded” or “remastered” version, as these books are points of pride and labors of love for the company.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: Foreword by Dan Nadel. (2 pages)
A Gallery of suppressed Prince Valiant images from 1939-1940. (2 pages)
A beheading in Camelot- the extended cut. (1 page)

Linework and Color: The strips are scanned from pristine syndicate proofs. This is as good as it is going to get.

Paper stock: Beautiful thick uncoated stock. It also smells terrific, as do as all Chinese made books.

Binding: Smyth sewn binding, nine stitches per signature. Book lays completely flat.

Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image part of the paper of the casewrap. Portion around the spine has a rougher material to it as a design choice. 

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