Prince Valiant: 1937-1938, Vol. 1 share button
Hal Foster
Format Hardcover
Dimensions 10.50 (w) x 14.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)
Pages 120
Publisher Fantagraphics Books
Publication Date August 2009
ISBN 9781606991411
Book ISBN 10 1606991418
About Book

Universally acclaimed as the most stunningly gorgeous adventure comic strip of all time, Prince Valiant
ran for 35 years under the virtuoso pen of its creator, Hal Foster.
(Such was its popularity that today, decades after Foster’s death, it continues to run under different hands.)

The giant Sunday-funnies pages (Valiant ran only on Sundays) gave Foster a huge canvas upon which he was able to limn epic swordfights, stunning scenes of pomp and pageantry, and some of the most beautiful human beings—male and female—ever to appear in comics. And he matched his nonpareil visual sense with the narrative instincts of a born storyteller, propelling his daring young hero from one crisis to another with barely a panel to catch one’s breath.

Prince Valiant has previously been widely available only in re-colored, somewhat degraded editions (now out of print and fetching collectors’ prices). Thanks to advances in production technology and newly available original proof sheets, this new series from the industry leader in quality strip classics is the first to feature superb restored artwork that captures every delicate line and chromatic nuance of Foster’s original masterpiece. Comic strip aficionados will be ecstatic, and younger readers who enjoy a classic adventure yarn will be bowled over.

Volume One is rounded out with a rare, in-depth classic Foster interview previously available only in a long out-of-print issue of The Comics Journal,
as well as an informative Afterword detailing the production and restoration of this edition.

Nominated for a 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award (Best Archival Collection/Project: Strips).



Prince Valiant was a comics-page colossus…one of the most celebrated of all comics…the presentation does justice to Foster’s classic creation.— Gordon Flagg

Comics Comics

Sure I'd read Foster before, but I'd never found a way in. Fortunately, Fantagraphics recently released Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-38, and I was able to absorb the material in a wholly new way.... I found this first book completely engrossing. Prince Valiant opens up a world that I wanted to stay in—a wide-eyed early 20th century approach to fantasy with a now-vanished sincerity and wholesomeness. It's an all too rare pleasure in comics. — Dan Nadel


There was no comic strip in the 1930s or today that is as visually striking as Prince Valiant with its attention to detail and brilliant narrative. Foster presented a panoramic view of Arthurian times and he laid out his strip in film director fashion, beautifully staging his panels…This is graphic storytelling at its finest and a true treasure!— Brian Lumley


There have been a lot of great comic book releases this year, but none has the beauty and melancholy resonance of Fantagraphics' Prince Valiant: Volume 1-1937-1938.— Mark Rhodes

Open Letters Monthly

Magnificent reproductions, done in a sturdy hardcover with oversized pages and entirely restored colors and shadings (indeed, those of us who’ve seen Prince Valiant reprint editions in the past will need some mental time to adjust to how much we’ve been missing).— Steven Donoghue

Philadelphia Inquirer

The release... of Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, the first in a new series of gorgeously printed, hardcover Valiant collections from Fantagraphics Books, served as a bittersweet reminder of the century-long rise and eventual decline of a great American art form, the comic strip.— Tirdad Derakhshani

Read About Comics

For the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was. The number of fine lines that went into each drawing is impressive, providing a fine texture and grace to every single panel.— Greg McElhatton

Robot 6

It’s much more fluid and enjoyable than I would’ve guessed—beautiful work.— Timothy Hodler


A real thing of beauty…the reproduction is as crystal clear as it can be…[Foster’s] exquisite delicate renderings have influenced so many artists who have come after him and it’s not hard to see why so many people are such huge fans of this master of visual story.— Joel Meadows


This is one of the greatest works of American art of the past century…one of the greatest comics of all time…the greatest adventure comic…[Foster’s] drawings are heartbreakingly beautiful. He understands powerful forms and delicate lines…Prince Valiant has been reprinted before, but this book uses his color engraver’s proofs and it’s a world of difference…It’s so beautiful.— Nick Gazin

Publishers Weekly

Medieval swordplay and adventure have never been as glorious as in Foster's Sunday-only comic strip. Although much reprinted (including an earlier version from the same publisher), this edition has been reproduced from pristine printer's proofs to give the gorgeous artwork its crispest version ever. The story takes young Prince Valiant, exiled heir to the conquered kingdom of Thule, from a witch's evil prophecy to adventure at the court of King Arthur, with stops for heroic rescues, conniving foes, beautiful maidens, Viking invasions and even a broken heart or two. Narrated in captions rather than told in speech balloons, Foster's script is literate and full of vivid characterizations, like the headstrong but cunning Val and carefree Sir Gawain. But nothing surpasses his artwork—rich with details of armor, weapons and dress, the story comes to life with a palpable sense of magic and danger. Each drawing is a flawless illustration, perfectly composed; even a battle of 20 men comes alive in a tiny panel, with every action clearly delineated. Prince Valliant is one of the best-drawn comics ever, and this new edition does ample justice to its achievement. Bonus material includes an interview with Foster and an afterword by editor Kim Thompson for context. (Aug.)

The Barnes & Noble Review

Since its demise, the Golden Age of newspaper comic strips has never been more accessible than now. Lovers of this four-color medium during its classical period have recently been treated to encyclopedic and scholarly compilations centering on Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Popeye, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, and Gasoline Alley, among others. Now these magnificent series are joined by what is arguably the apex of the art, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. Previous assemblages of Valiant being out of print, Fantagraphics, a leader in the field, has stepped forward with gloriously restored art reproduced in generous dimensions and abetted by the essays of experts.

This initial volume, collecting the first two years' worth of strips from the nearly 40-year span of Foster's involvement in the single-page, Sundays-only offering, demonstrates just why Valiant continues to burn so brightly. Foster's realistic yet romantic art is astonishingly alluring. Interior domestic scenes alternate with gorgeous, panoramic landscapes and architecture. His vast range of people possess a loose-limbed naturalness and kinetic exuberance. Horses and other animals exhibit the grace of each species. And not only is each panel a small masterpiece, but Foster's compositional sense on each page conveys excitement. One week, a page is given over merely to four equal panels (week of 8-14-37). Another week, three skinny columns of art make a triptych (week of 10-9-37). Moreover, in cinematic fashion, long shots alternate entertainingly with close-ups. This latter distinction brings us naturally to Foster's storytelling abilities, the other half of his grand achievement. His ability to portray vivid characters in swift, simple strokes is matched only by his clever plotting. Weekly episodes encouraged compression: for instance, Valiant ages a year between one panel and another (week of 4-24-37). On the other hand, Foster knew when to relax the pace, as when he devotes two entire weeks to Valiant capturing and taming a horse (5-15-37 and 5-22-37). His balance of naturalism and fantasy is a key to his success as well. Simultaneously nostalgic and eternal, Hal Foster's populist masterwork deserves this accessible enshrinement. --Paul DiFilippo