- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; Box Har/Ps edition (Oct. 3 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1606998978
- ISBN-13: 978-1606998977
- Product Dimensions: 59.1 x 43.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 7.4 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Hal Foster's Prince Valiant Hardcover – Oct 10 2017
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About the Author
Hal Foster (1892-1982) created Prince Valiant in 1937. Though remaining involved with the strip until his death in 1982, Foster handed the bulk of the scripting and art chores over to his longtime assistant, John Cullen Murphy, in 1971.
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Produced in the tradition of IDW Publishing's admirable "Artist Edition" series, the "Fantagraphics Studio Edition" showcases select pages of Mr. Foster's masterwork, reproducing the storyteller's huge original pages close to their full size, giving the reader the cherished opportunity to explore the nuances of the master's beautiful detailed artwork like never before in a collected "Prince Valiant" volume. At 23.2 x 17 inches, this book is vast in its dimensions, larger than Manuscript Press' laudable Prince Valiant: An American Epic, Vol. 1, 1937
trilogy of paperback volumes from 1982, 1984 and 1990, and Dark Horse Comics' three volume hardcover collection of Mr. Foster's first comic strip work, the influential Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Sunday Comics, 1931-1933 Volume 1 (Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan Sundays), published in 2013-2015. While not reprinting a complete story arc of the strip, this book features sections taken from throughout the nearly four decades its creator envisioned the adventures of Thule's favorite son.
To be honest, enjoying this massive tome can be a bit of a challenge. Its physical size demands an effort on the reader's part to respect what it offers. But for this reviewer, turning the pages of this book was a thrilling experience. The reproduction of the original artwork is stunning in its clarity. For example, a page titled "The Tyrant," strip #81 from August 28, 1938, displays Prince Valiant's rival then friend Arn, Prince of Ord, facing the cruel King Sligon, in the former castle of Valiant's deposed father, Aguar. Reproduced at its full size, it is a wondrous work of illustrative art. Not only can one see the precision of Mr. Foster's rendering technique, the reader can also see the physical construction of a "Valiant" Sunday page. Further, this book reveals how Mr. Foster would sometimes cut individual panels from a large illustration board to better manage drawing a particular scene of action or drama to later reconstruct a full newspaper page continuity. This volume shows these amazing pages in all their glory; the paste-ups of the strip logo, the yellowing of the aging pages, but most importantly, the wonder and the majesty of "Hal" Foster's artistic genius.
As an added bonus, this volume comes with a giant reproduction of an iconic original page from the strip's second year of publication; strip #71, "The Song of the Singing Sword," first published in newspapers on June 19, 1938.
For this reviewer and long-time fan of the "Prince Valiant" strip, this beautiful book is something to savor and cherish for years and years to come. It is a major monetary investment, but I can sincerely say from the bottom of my heart that the "Prince Valiant Fantagraphics Studio Edition" was worth its price.
This book comes with my highest recommendation.
This book is simply beautiful! The hardcover binding and graphic design is stunning. Much care was put here. For the printing thick matt paper was used. As to the quality of the reproductions, these vary according to the years. Needless to say, the artwork isn’t reproduced at its original size, as a 3' by 2' book (we are talking feet here and not inches) would have been impossible to do, as no binding would resist the weight of the paper. Getting back to the reproductions, since we are seeing the work reproduced a third smaller than the originals, some of the finer pen work by Foster is difficult to see, although with the later decades the reproduction is better and crystal-clear, since Foster reduced the size of his original art (owed to reduction in the size of newspapers).
That aside, my only complaints are that most of the material reproduced dates from the mid-fifties to the sixties. I would have loved seeing more pages from 1940-45 (the best years in my personal opinion) and see the original art with the gorilla or the elephant pages from Val’s adventures in Africa. Apparently, artwork from the early years was so badly kept, that the pages have become brittle and they feared would suffer when put on top of a flat-bed scanner.
Although the book contains a poster of perhaps the most celebrated page Foster ever drew, this also falls short of being the size of the original (being around ten inches shorter). While I can understand the printing reasons for this, I feel it cheats most readers into believing it’s reproduced at its original size (aggravated by the fact that Fantagraphics doesn’t mention anything about the size of the original artwork in the book, although you can see pictures of Foster at work on what seems like bedsheet-sized art boards).
All in all, this is my favorite artist’s edition so far, though I get a feeling it was aimed mostly at fans, as no information is given as to the sources or sizes of the art (not to mention years, although you can see the dates on most of the artwork reproduced; keep in mind that it is the date of publication, and not the date Foster drew the strips). However, only 1,500 copies were printed, and it will never be reprinted again, so buy your copy now while it’s still affordable, as in a couple of months (or a year at the most) it will go sky-high by unscrupulous resellers at ebay!
Update/erratum: I ended this review by saying that it would soon go out of print, when in fact it went out of print the day it came out! Some booksellers might still have a few remaining copies. I also erronously mentioned that Foster drew the strip at a smaller size after 1950. Actually the overall border with the drawings was always at 34" high! It was the width that changed slightly throughout the years. Since the lettering was larger in the latter years I assumed he had changed format, when in fact he always drew on that bedsheet-sized format!