It seems Gray Morrow and Wally Wood weren’t the only Silver Age comic book artists to try grab the brass ring of succeeding Hal Foster as Prince Valiant comic strip artist. Phil Holt also gave it a shot, as seen in today’s Funky Winkerbean.
Not to belittle the artistic skills of Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers but that page looked a bit too good. So I asked the fans at the Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant Purists Facebook site if it was an actual Prince Valiant strip, and they came through!
Specifically Brian Kane, Hal Foster/Prince Valiant authority supreme, pinned it down to the layout for the January 22, 1978 (#2137) page, the original art of which resides at The Billy Ireland Library and Museum.
Of course by 1978 John Cullen Murphy had a lock on the job. Perhaps Phil Holt had heard rumors of J.C. returning to Big Ben Bolt to revitalize that strip but, finding it too late and that Ben Bolt was down for the count, John stayed on Prince Val ruining Phil’s big shot at a syndicated comic strip. We will just have to stay tooned.
Here, courtesy of Brian Kane, is the page with the Meg Nash, John Cullen Murphy’s daughter and
Prince Valiant letterer and colorer, contributions to the finished Hal Foster/J. C. Murphy strip:
Prince Valiant © King Features Syndicate; Funky Winkerbean © Batom Inc.