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Harold R. (Hal) Foster Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Foster, Harold R. (Harold Rudolf), 1892-1982.
Title: Harold R. (Hal) Foster Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1936-1973
Quantity: 29.75 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the American cartoonist, distributed by King Features Syndicate. Includes correspondence, original artwork and color proofs for Prince Valiant; artwork for Medieval Castle, scrapbooks and photographs, printed material as well as material related to Foster's appearance on the television show, "This is Your Life".
Language: Bulk is in English; also includes Prince Valiant books from various countries in Danish, Finnish, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish ; correspondence in Greek and German; and tearsheets in Turkish, Spanish and Filipino.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Harold R. (Hal) Foster (1892-1982) was a Canadian-American cartoonist. His most famous creation was the Prince Valiant strip.

Born in Nova Scotia in 1892, Foster studied at the Chicago Art Institute, supplemented with night classes at the National Academy of Design and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic influences included E.A. Abbey, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, James Montgomery Flagg, and N.C. Wyeth. Foster worked as a staff artist for the Hudson Bay Company and then as an illustrator before getting involved with graphic adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan novels. Foster's sense of realism, composition, draftsmanship, and his fluid anatomy brought a new "fine art" feel to adventure comics. Another Foster trademark that appeared for the first time in comics was the use of captions instead of word balloons.

Eventually, wishing to do something original, Foster began working on a character of his own: Derek, Son of Thane. Hal later changed the strip's title to Prince Arn and King Features Syndicate's general manager, Joseph Connelly, finally re-christened it Prince Valiant. Hal decided early on that his hero would be a Knight of the Round Table and made tens of thousands of notes and sketches covering the main character's life from childhood to old age. Hal never included a locale that he had not personally visited for thematic accuracy.

In 1936, Foster pitched Prince Valiant to William Randolph Hearst, who had long wanted Foster to do a comic for his papers. Hearst was so impressed that he promised Foster the ownership of the strip if he would start the series, a very rare offer in those days. The first episode of Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur (the full title) appeared on February 13, 1937. The tales were so epic that Edward, The Duke of Windsor called Prince Valiant the "greatest contribution to English literature in the past hundred years."

Prince Valiant became one of the most successful comic strips of all time, winning the prestigious Banshees' "Silver Lady" award (1952) and both the National Cartoonists Society's coveted "Reuben" award (1957) and "Gold Key" award (1977). When he was 73, Foster was elected to membership in Great Britain's Royal Society of Arts - an honor very few Americans have received.

In addition to the Reuben and Gold Key awards, Foster received a number of other recognitions from the National Cartoonists Society, including the Story Comic Strip Award in 1964, the Special Features Award in 1966 and 1967, and the Elzie Segar Award in 1978. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creators Hall of Fame for his contributions to comic books.

Hal Foster died in 1982. As of 2010, Prince Valiant, was still appearing in newspapers as a Sunday only feature, drawn by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Harold R. (Hal) Foster Papers include material related to Foster's Prince Valiant comic strip and are arranged into five series.

The Cartoons series (1937-1973) comprises the bulk of this collection. The series contains primarily original artwork for the Prince Valiant comic strip (409 original pieces), including the first episode of the strip from February 13, 1957. The majority of the artwork was produced between 1948 and 1959 although there are a few earlier pieces and one piece from 1973. Original artwork for the Medieval Castle is also included.

Each Prince Valiant strip is numbered and dated. Dimensions of original art varies; however early pieces measure approximately 22 ½" x 29" and later items are 19" x 27". Works were often completed in two or more different sections and hinged together with tape. Foster worked in pen and ink on illustration board. Notations appear on the original pieces in pencil. Each work contains a copyright notice sticker.

Correspondence (1952-1969) contains primarily incoming correspondence (although some replies from Foster appear in the folders for 1969), mostly favorable comment on Foster's skill and requests for original drawings. These letters arrived from fans from around the world including those in Germany, Greece, the Philippines, Tahiti and Sweden. At least one letter is in Greek and several are in German. Worth noting is material sent by a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology who staged the exhibition, "The Comics: An American Tradition" with cartoons from his personal collection.

Within Printed material (1949-1966) there are published articles about Foster, Prince Valiant books (many of which are foreign language editions), features Prince Valiant appearances in book form in foreign translations for Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Sweden. United States editions are included as is one copy of the Medieval Castle and promotional material.

In the Scrapbooks and photographs series (1936-1967), there are two scrapbooks that were formally presented to Foster, one for his Banshee Award and the other from King Feature Syndicate. The other items were compiled by Foster and contain newspaper clippings, memorabilia and photographs. Foster's personal scrapbooks contain photos of a Prince Valiant themed Mardi Gras float and images of other cartoonists including Otto Soglow, artist for The Little King Rube Goldberg and Jimmy Hatlo.

Miscellaneous contains a script and videotape from Foster's appearance on "This Is Your Life", a tableaux script fro the Ball of Krewe of Hermes and a small scroll.

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Other Related Finding Aids

A partial set of worksheets containing titles, dates, captions, condition and remarks about cartoons from 1949-1952 is located in the finding aids folder.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Some material is restricted for fragility.

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Related Material

The published books of Prince Valiant as well as the engraver's color proofs (formerly in Oversize 8-26) have been removed for separate cataloging. These items are noted in the inventory as "Transferred to Rare Books" and can be located via the Classic Catalog.

Many of the color proofs have been digitized and are available online. To view these document, please visit SCRC Online, our digital portal.

Special Collections Research Center has collections of more than 150 cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Foster, Harold R. (Harold Rudolf), 1892-1982.

Corporate Bodies

King Features Syndicate.

Associated Titles

Medieval castle.
Prince Valiant.


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Knights and knighthood -- Comic books, strips, etc.
Middle Ages -- Comic books, strips, etc.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Comic strips.
Engraver's proofs.
Photograph albums.
Promotional materials.
Video recordings.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Harold R. (Hal) Foster Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hal Foster, 1966-1970, 1972.

Original artwork #1915 (October 21, 1973), gift of Lou Cannon, 2009.

Material transferred from the C.D. Russell Cartoons, 1967, 2011.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: -
Date: unknown
Revision history: 29 Sep 2006 - converted to EAD (AMCon); 9 Oct 2006 - bio added, inventory redone to match actual folders/items (MRR); 23 Nov 2009 - added newly accessioned item (SK); 16 Sep 2010 - revised inventory and scope (SK); 15 Apr 2011 - added items to inventory and upated acquisition information (AM); 21 Sep 2016 - conservation done on original art, some movement of items to different boxes (DS/MS)

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Note on alternate formats:

Many of the color proofs have been digitized and are available online. To view these document, please visit SCRC Online, our digital portal.

Original artwork
Click here for a detailed inventory of Prince Valiant original artwork.
Oversize 27 Prince Valiant 1937 Feb-1945 Sep
#1, 30, 48, 91, 117, 167, 177, 200, 213, 220, 276, 374, 376, 378, 391, 449
Oversize 28 Prince Valiant 1946 Mar-1948 Dec
#476-477, 485-486, 490, 492, 494-495, 507, 530, 557-559, 569 (partial), 577, 579-580, 592, 594-595, 597-604, 606-607, 620
Oversize 29 Prince Valiant 1949 Jan-Jul - also includes 1 unnumbered strip
#608-610, 619, 624, 626, 628-629, 631-641, 643-644, 649-651
Oversize 30 Prince Valiant 1949 Aug-1950 Sep
#654, 659, 662, 664-665, 667-668, 673-674, 676, 685, 691, 696-697, 699, 701, 705-706, 708
Oversize 31 Prince Valiant 1950 Oct-1951 Jun
#711-712, 714-715, 717-721, 726-727, 729, 734-743, 746-747, 750
Oversize 32 Prince Valiant 1951 Jul-1952 Feb
#752-754, 756, 758, 760-761, 763-764, 766, 768-769, 771-775, 777-779, 781-785
Oversize 33 Prince Valiant 1952 Mar-Sep
#786-788, 790-811, 813-815
Oversize 34 Prince Valiant 1952 Oct-1953 May
#816-824, 826-827, 830, 832-841, 843-844, 847, 849, 850
Oversize 35 Prince Valiant 1953 Jun-Dec
#851, 853, 855, 856, 858, 865-867, 869-872, 874-880
Oversize 1 Prince Valiant 1954 Jan-Aug
#882-897, 899-916, 917
Oversize 2 Prince Valiant 1954 Sep-1955 May
#918-930, 932, 934-942, 944-946, 948-952, 954-955
Oversize 3 Prince Valiant 1955 Jun-1956 Apr
#956, 958-972, 981-987, 989-991, 993-994, 997, 999-1003
Oversize 4 Prince Valiant 1957 Jan-Jul
#1039-1044, 1047-1061, 1063-1068
Oversize 5 Prince Valiant 1957 Aug-1958 Mar
#1069-1071, 1073-1074, 1076-1079, 1081, 1083-1091, 1094-1095, 1099-1101
Oversize 6 Prince Valiant 1958 Apr-Dec
#1103, 1105-1115, 1120, 1125-1126, 1129-1135, 1137-1139
Oversize 7 Prince Valiant 1958 Dec-1959 Aug, Oct 21 1973
#1915, 1141, 1143-1148, 1150-1154, 1157, 1159-1160, 1162-1164, 1166-1169, 1171-1173
Oversize 36 Medieval Castle 1944 Apr-1945 Nov (2 folders)
Oversize 36 Miscellaneous caption pieces 1949, undated
Oversize 37 Color comparison samples of Prince Valiant undated - from engraver's proofs (1 folder)
Engraver's color proofs 1937-1970 - #11 through #1768 (34 oversize volumes)
These proofs were previously Oversize Boxes 8-26. All engraver's color proofs have been transferred to Rare Books for separate cataloging. These items can be located via the Classic Catalog.
Oversize 36 Foreign language tearsheets of Prince Valiant 1950s
#647, 857, 870, 885, 902, 909, 915, 920, 926, 932, 933 (2 copies), 934, 935 (2 copies), 936 (2 copies), 938, 941, 943, 944, 951; languages present are Spanish, Turkish, French, Filipino
Oversize 36 Prince Valiant title header (2 copies)
Oversize 37 Prince Valiant 1937-1940 - one color, remainder black and white
Oversize 37 Prince Valiant 1950, 1953-1954, 1957, undated - black and white; one reverse negative proof; majority from 1953 (1 folder)
Oversize 27 Proofs 1957 Nov-Dec
#109, #112
Oversize 28 Proofs
#544 (partial), 553-554, 555 (2 copies), 556, 558, 561, 562, 564, 566 (2 copies), 568
Oversize 30 Proofs
#616, #620
Oversize 34 Proof, color
Oversize 37 The Song of Bernadette 1942 - based on the novel by Franz Werfel; part of Book-of-the-Month; King Features Syndicate (5 items)
Box 1 [General] 1952, 1957-1966, 1968-1969 Jun (14 folders)
English, Greek and German
Box 2 [General] 1969 Jul-Dec, undated (5 folders)
Printed material
Box 2 Articles about Foster 1949, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1966
Pageant, vol. 5, no. 6, Dec. 1949; The Cartoonist, Summer 1958, 2 copies; The World of Comic Art, portion, vol. 1, no. 2, Fall 1966;
Oversize 37 Prince Valiant 1937 (1 folder)
Includes one Prince Valiant proof.
All books listed below have been transferred to Rare Books for separate cataloging. These items can be located via the Classic Catalog.
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, El Principe Valiente. Buenos Aires, Editorial Acme, South America 1956
Foster, Herold, El Principe Valiente Contra Atila. Buenos Aires, Editorial Acme, South America 1955
Foster, Herold, El Principe Valiente Viaje Paligroso. Buenos Aires, Editorial Acme, South America 1955
Foster, Herold, El Principe Valiente en Viaje a Thule. Buenos Aires, Editorial Acme, South America 1966
Foster, Herold, El Principe Valiente y su Amigo Boltar. Buenos Aires, Editorial Acme, South America 1966
Foster, Herold, Principe Valente Contra a Invasao dos. Rio de Janerio, Rio Grafica E Editora undated
Foster, Herold, Principe Valente no mar Interior. Rio de Janerio, Rio Grafica E Editora undated
Foster, Herold, Principe Valente nos Tempos do Rei Artur. Rio de Janerio, Rio Grafica E. Editora undated
Foster, Harold, Principe Valente Viagem Arrojada. Rio de Janerio, Rio Grafica E. Editora undated
Foster, Herold, Prins Valiente Udfordrer Kong Attila. Skrifola 1957
Foster, Herold, and Trell, Max, Prinssi Peloton Tarina Kuninas Arthurin Ajoilta. Helsinki, Otara 1955
Foster, Herold and Trell, Max, Prinz Eosenherz in den Tagen Konig Arthur. Badischer Verlag Freiburg im Breisgau 1953
Foster, Herold, Prinz Eisenherz Kampfs Gegen die Hunnen. Badischer Verlag Freiburg Im Breisgau 1954
Foster, Herold and Trell, Max, Prinz Eisenherz im Mittlemeer. Badischer Verlag Freibrug Im Breisgau 1955
Foster, Herold and Trell, Max, Prinz Eisenherz auf Gefahrlichen Reisen, Buch 4. Badischer Verlag Freiburg Im Breisgau 1956
Foster, Herold, Prinz Eisenherz Reitet fur Thule, Buch 4. Badischer Verlag G.M.B.H. Freiburg Im Breisgar 1960
Foster, Herold, Prinz Eisenherz und Sein Freund Boltar, Buch 9. Badischer Verlag G.M.B.H. Freiburg Im Breisgau 1961
Foster, Herold, Prinz Eisenherz Befreit Aleta, Buch 11. Badischer Verlag G.M.B.H. Freiburg Im Breisgar 1963
Foster, Herold, and Trell, Max, Prins Valiant a Dögum Arthur's Konungs, # 1. Asapor undated
Foster, Herold, Prins Valiant Berst Gegn Atla Hunakonungi, # 2. Asapor 1962
Foster, Herold, Prins Valiant Finnur Drottningu Pokueyjanna, #3. Asapor undated
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prins Valiant I Haettulegri Sjoferd, #4. Asapor undated
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prins Valiant og Ljoshaerda Prinsessan, #5. Asapor undated
Foster, Harold, Il Principe Coraggioso. Milano Editrice "La Sargente," 1956
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prins Valiant Ved Kong Arthurs Hoff. Gyldendal Norsk Forlag 1956
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prins Valiant Vid Kung Arturs Hov. Lindquists 1956
United States
Foster, Harold, The Medieval Castle. New York, Hastings House 1957
Foster, Harold, Prince Valiant: An American Epic. (2 volumes, softcover, oversize)
shelved with Engraver's color proofs
Foster, Harold, Prince Valiant Fights Attila the Hun. New York, Hastings House 1952
Foster, Harold, and Trell, Max, Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur. New York, Hastings House 1951
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prince Valliant on the Inland Sea, book #3. New York, Hastings House 1953
Foster, Harold, and Trell, Max, Prince Valiant's Perilous Voyage, book #4. New York, Hastings House 1954
Foster, Harold and Trell, Max, Prince Valiant and the Golden Princess, book #5. New York, Hastings House 1955
Foster, Harold, Prince Valiant in the New World, book #6. New York, Hastings House 1956
Foster, Harold, Prince Valiant and the Three Challenges, book #7. New York, Hastings House 1960
Oversize 39 Promotional material 1948, 1954, 1965
Includes advertising for film "Tarzan" ; King Features Ad for Prince Valiant movie; "The Song of Bernadette" poster; "A Christmas Story" portfolio
Scrapbooks and photographs
Oversize 38 [untitled] 1936-1952 - newspaper clippings and memorabilia
Oversize 38 [untitled] 1952-1956 - primarily newspaper clippings
Box 3 [untitled] 1956-1964 - newspaper clippings, articles
Items have been removed from scrapbook and foldered
Oversize 40 "Album of Testimonial Letters" 1952 - for the Banshees Award, prepared scrapbook; boxed
Oversize 39 Banshees Award 1952 - mostly photos, some newspaper clippings
Oversize 41 "Prince Arn's Natal Day" Aug. 31, 1947 - prepared scrapbook from King Features Syndicate, boxed
Photo albums
Items have been removed from the albums and foldered.
Box 3 Hollywood 20th Century Fox and "This is Your Life" 1954
Box 3 New Orleans Mardi Gras, Prince Valiant theme 1955, 1967
Box 3 Unidentified 1940s-1950s - includes photo from Chicago mayor, and pictures of William Randolph Hearst's collection of armor
Box 3 Unidentified 1940s-1950s - includes hunting photos, other cartoonists including Rube Goldberg, Jimmy Hatlo, Otto Soglow
Box 2 Miscellaneous photograph and negatives undated
Box 3 Krewe of Hermes ball 1967 - program, narrative tableaux script
See also Photo albums : New Orleans Mardi Gras
Oversize 39 Scroll, "A Royal Proclamation from King Features Syndicate" undated (3 pieces)
"This is Your Life"
See also Photo albums : Hollywood 20th Century-Fox and "This is Your Life"
Box 2 Script 1954
Box 2 Hal Foster: This Is Your Life April 14, 1954 - VHS tape; running time 29:38 (ID#: foster_hl_001)

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