Remembering Prince Valiant

Every summer I fly for five hours to New York City and then drive two more hours to Canandaigua Lake, a sparkling blue expanse of water that features excellent water skiing conditions and jet skis galore. Every New Years Eve, the lakeside inhabitants light a torch on their beachfront property and a ring of fire is formed. The lake is my grandparents’ second home, and my immediate family visits once every year.

I have a lot of respect for my grandparents, and I do love them, but as any teenager, listening to a war story can get tiresome. Especially when it’s the fifth retelling of the Battle of Gallipoli—a battle my grandfather did not even take part in. Oftentimes my sister and I can be seen fleeing from my grandfather with the invariably weak excuse of ‘Isn’t the weather nice? High time for a swim!’ On days when the weather is not so nice, we find ourselves searching for something to do that would involve our complete concentration. My sisters, being older, had their schoolwork to keep them busy. I was forced to resort to more creative methods.

I chose ‘Prince Valiant.’

To those of you who don’t know, ‘Prince Valiant’ is a long-run comic strip that in 1990, was made into a four part miniseries by Marvel Comics. Valiant or ‘Val’ is the hero of the comic and he resides in Thule, Norway with his magical weapon, The Singing Sword. His wife, Aleta, the Queen of the Misty Isles, is a beautiful blonde who has been known to don men’s clothing and joust on the weekends. Their family faces countless fortress-stormings every week and Val is often called to Camelot to help King Arthur.

The comic is still running, and you can find it in the Sunday comic section of the Seattle Times. However, my most vivid memory of ‘Prince Valiant’ is a glossy, overlarge book containing a year’s worth of Prince Valiant. The pages gave me a welcome break from tales of gangrene and Vietcong warriors, but they also plunged me into a world where sea monsters attacked every other week and princes rode for ten hours on horseback to send a message to a neighboring prince.

My grandfather noticed my fondness for the books and began to amass a Prince Valiant collection for me. A year or two ago, he presented his handiwork to me and I, rather guiltily, took the newspaper clippings out to the dock and devoured the entire thing in an hour. No one knew, of course. I pretended to be a slow reader and frequently used the collection as an escape route, but ever since then I have not been quite so averse to talking with my grandfather. It appears we have one thing in common: a deep love of Prince Valiant.

Post by Erin, teen blogger

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