The Prince Valiant Connection

by Bryan Shedden and Dietmar Lederwasch

(with thanks to Kjell Steen and Todd Goldberg )

It is not an uncommon practice amongst comic strip and comic book artists to "borrow" layouts and drawing styles from other artists. In an interview published in King Comic Heroes (James Van Hise, Pioneer Books, 1988), Lee Falk tells an amusing anecdote from the early days of his Mandrake strip:

"When I was working with Phil Davis doing layouts very early in the game, we had a Sunday page which had some rearing horses. Now these are illustrative artists and they use photo references and whole files of other artists' material. When I indicated a rifle or a gun or a tank, he had a model or something to copy from. They didn't copy it -- they used the file to get something for a model and they sketched from it. They didn't trace it or anything like that. They had to have a model just like they'd have a model for a woman. At that very moment, in I think it was Flash Gordon, they had some rearing horses. We used that as inspiration, but we didn't copy it. About a year later I moved to New York, and I went up and I had dinner with Alex Raymond up in Stamford where I'd moved to in Connecticut and he was showing me through his studio in his beautiful house and there on his drawing board was the Flash Gordon he was working on and next to it was the Sunday page of Mandrake with the rearing horses -- he was using it as a model. I said, 'But Alex, we copied that from you!' He said "Oh, for Christ's sake!' He'd forgotten."

It is perhaps not too surprising to find that Sy Barry and his team of assistants also borrowed from the masters. In particular, it appears they had a certain affinity for Hal Foster's work on Prince Valiant . One such example, from Queen Karola of Kula-Ku (D150) was recently discovered by a Scandinavian reader whose letter was published in Fantomet Nr.23 1997. Since then, Dietmar and I have uncovered many more Prince Valiant panels that were the basis for subsequent panels in The Phantom. In particular, the 1979 Sunday story The Name featured no less than FIVE such panels! Scans of these Phantom panels and their Prince Valiant source are shown below.

Continued on the next page .

The Phantom: The Name (S110)

Prince Valiant

Oct 7, 1979 (Panel 5)

Feb 19, 1939 (mirror)

Oct 7, 1979 (Panel 8)

Feb 11, 1940

Oct 14, 1979

Jun 5, 1938

Oct 21, 1979

June 19, 1938

The Phantom: Queen Karola of Kula-Ku (D150)

Prince Valiant

Jan 6, 1983

Jan 7, 1939


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Bryan Shedden /
Last Updated 2 September 2000