13 Magnificent Illustrations: A HAL FOSTER Birthday Celebration

One of the all-time greats was born 131 years ago…


Hal Foster, one of the greatest artists of the Golden Age of Comic Strips, influenced more artists than possibly anyone except Alex Raymond. Among those who cited him as such were Frank Frazetta, Gil Kane, Steve Ditko, Al Williamson, Wallace Wood, Joe Kubert, John Buscema, Neal Adams and Jack Kirby. The latter even borrowed from an early Prince Valiant adventure the appearance of a demon (actually Valiant in disguise) for Kirby’s Etrigan, “The Demon” in DC Comics.

Foster (left) and Kirby

Born 131 years ago on August 16, 1892, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Harold R. Foster’s first break was in drawing Tarzan for a 10-week daily adaptation of the novel in the late 1920s. He went on to do the Sunday page from 1931 to 1937. Though successful at it, he wanted to create, write and draw his own feature strip, and thus was born Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur. He truly loved doing this amazing newspaper page and it showed week after week, from 1937 to 1971 (at which time he turned over the drawing to John Cullen Murphy, with Foster continuing to write the strip for several years after that).

The strip covered Valiant through his early days as a young Viking prince, to becoming a young man who desired to become a knight in King Arthur’s court, to meeting Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles, who would become his wife and mother to his children.

Below are 13 magnificent examples of Foster’s great work.  Enjoy.

Cover to Vanguard’s 2001 biography of Foster by Brian M. Kane

Cover to Volume 3 (1988) of Fantagraphics’ first reprint series of the strip. They would improve and redo the entire Foster run starting in 2009.

Half-page artwork from June 19, 1938

Half-page artwork from November 27, 1938

Full page from June 30, 1940

A trio of panels from April 27, 1941

Large panel artwork from March 19, 1944

Large panel art from December 10, 1944

Large 2/3-pg. art from January 21, 1951

Large 2/3-pg. art from October 21, 1951

Large 2/3-pg. art from December 21, 1952

Large 2/3-pg. art from August 23, 1953

Large 2/3-pg. art from June 26, 1960


— KAMANDI AFTER KIRBY: The Brilliant WEDNESDAY COMICS Strip. Click here.

— SPOTLIGHT: Mark Schultz. Click here.

13th Dimension contributor-at-large PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, was published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Absolutely magnificent! I read it in our newspaper every Sunday from the 60s on!

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    • I started reading PV when I was about 8. | am 91 now.This was in the USA and I now live permantly in England and only can read it on my computer but I do save it and have a latge collection and all the books that have been published.

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