PRINCE VALIANT turns 75 next week, and for me, that’s bringing up fond memories of curling up on the sofa with a heavily-buttered English muffin and stacks of newspapers in my grandparents’ living room. When I was a child, my grandparents moved several states away. The first time I went to visit them, I snagged the Comics section on Sunday morning (as I was wont to do). That was the first time I saw PRINCE VALIANT. I just happened to be in the midst of an All-Things-Medieval obsession, so PRINCE VALIANT was pretty much the pinnacle of all things awesome. Between visits, which were often several months apart, my grandparents would save the older comics so that I wouldn’t miss anything.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, of course the first thing that comes to mind for me is the wonderful romance that has always been a part of PRINCE VALIANT. Val and his wife, Aleta have never let the romance fade from their long and successful marriage (as long as we conveniently ignore slight bumps, like Aleta’s recent bewitchment).
Of course, things didn’t start out so smoothly for them. When Val first encountered Aleta on February 2, 1941, he was semi-conscious, adrift in a small boat that washed up in her domain, The Misty Isles, which are presumably located somewhere in the Aegean Sea.
Val only awoke for moments — just long enough for Aleta to make him drink some water. When he regained consciousness, he was back out at sea, but his boat was completely re-provisioned. He was also bewitched by the memory of the lovely young woman who had assisted him. He spent the better part of a year trying to find her again.
Unbeknownst to Val, some of his men had sacked one of Aleta’s cities. Oops — talk about awkward! The culprits were caught and killed, so when Val finally met up with Aleta, he ended up telling her off. Probably not the best way to start off your relationship!
Val, conflicted over his feelings for Aleta, became convinced that he wasn’t in love with her — that she must have put some kind of spell on him. Our only defense for Val is that those sorts of things actually HAPPEN from time to time in his world. Still not doing so hot in the love department, Val. Completely unaware that Aleta reciprocated his feelings, he decided that the logical thing to do would be to find her and force her to break the enchantment.
Still convinced that Aleta is his adversary, Val had another bloody encounter with Aleta’s soldiers. As a result, he took her prisoner and kept her captive. Fortunately for them both, Val realized his mistake, and the two of them discovered their feelings for each other.
Val and Aleta were married on February 10, 1946 — which makes today their wedding anniversary!
Here are the strips from the birth of their five children, some of the biggest milestones in Val and Aleta’s marriage:
Of course, their newly-wedded bliss didn’t last long, because Aleta was shortly thereafter taken captive by Ulfran, a Viking raider. Val gave chase, and the couple was finally reunited an ocean away, in the Americas, which would have been as-yet-unknown territory for many Europeans. Assisted by the friends they made among the native people, Aleta gave birth to their first child, Prince Arn.
Many years of happy marriage brought them four more children: twin daughters Karen and Valeta, and sons Galen and Nathan. And, of course, countless adventures.
Happy 66th Wedding Anniversary, Val and Aleta!!!