Thanks, as always, for visiting. In this posting, we want to talk about something which _might_ have been a (very) minor influence on JRRT.
From the time it first appeared, in 1937, Prince Valiant (still in newspapers today) has attracted an audience of those who love adventure with a medieval look (and that means us, among many others). This has made us wonder about the author of The Lord of the Rings. Was he a weekly follower? Perhaps some of his children were? Christopher, born 1924, or Priscilla, born 1929? After all, it made its debut in the same year as The Hobbit: is this a cosmic coincidence?
So far, we’ve found no evidence that he was a fan, unfortunately, but we keep finding these little hints.
Look at the Rohirrim, for instance, with all of their horsey imagery (from P. Jackson as an image, but certainly derived from the books):
(And this banner always reminds us of the famous “White Horse of Uffington” in Oxfordshire)
And look, even from the beginning, Prince Valiant has something similar: horsehead crest on helmet, horsehead on chest (and horsehead on shield, too, in the original illustration)
Prince Valiant’s look, of course, comes, in part, from Hal Foster’s own favorites—just compare this from Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903).
with this from an early Prince Valiant strip.
Pyle and illustrators like him are what JRRT grew up looking at.
And this is where Foster’s world begins—
These are far from the things you see in the movies, of course, which have taken a very different approach, some of it puzzling to us, as much as we very much respect the massive effort which went into Jackson’s work, even if we don’t always agree with the choices made.
But, as always, we except the Rohirrim!
Besides the horse motif, one thing which has struck us is the siege of Minas Tirith. As JRRT was pondering this in early stages, perhaps he saw, in 1939, this—
In the saga of Prince Valiant, he travels to Europe
and is involved in defeating the invading Huns.
But only after being the sole survivor of the siege of the great fortress of Andelkrag.
Looking again at the image of Andelkrag besieged
might we see Minas Tirith to come?
As we said, perhaps a minor influence? What do you think, dear readers?
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Seems highly unlikely that Tolkien, living in England, could possibly have seen an American comic strip.
Thanks for your input. In fact, King Edward VIII was a fan (see http://www.fantagrafics.com/series/prince-valiant for his rather enthusiastic comment), so we might imagine that, at least some of JRRT’s children might have been so, too. Thanks again. CD