Hal Foster's classic Prince Valiant; Montana countryside

Today’s page gave me the task of evoking Jekka’s youth in a condensed form. I felt I could not devote too much time to the sequence without arresting the forward movement of the plot too much. But I also felt it was important to show enough of the scene to give the reader a chance to make a connection with the character.  I drew on a couple of specific sources to help me in the task.

First, I had in mind the grand master of the comic adventure strip, Hal Foster, and how he launched his great strip Prince Valiant with a note-perfect depiction of Prince Val as a child growing up in the wild fens. Foster’s attention to detail and his vivid images created a completely convincing world for his characters to inhabit. It was a world and a cast that you had to fall in love with.

I also drew from my own memories of many a tramp I made in the rugged, sun-baked hills of Montana in days gone by. My goal on this page was to evoke as far as I could the sense of that expansive, sweeping world– a place any child with imagination and spirit could fill instantly with adventure. And a place any child would grieve to lose.

This page is one insight into Jekka’s past, but it’s clearly not the whole story. That’s yet to come– along with a few other twists, tumbles and turmoils. Mercy and her friends are in a tight spot now, and things are about to get more desperate for them yet. Even Mercy’s formidable skills might not be enough to see them all through.


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