Hal Foster is perhaps the most influential comic strip artist of all time. Previous to his most enduring work, he’s had an interesting career that took him all over Canada. He steered ships in the Atlantic and was a fur trapper in the wilderness near Winnipeg. He eventually made his way to Chicago to learn illustration. Afterwards, Foster was an illustrator for Canada’s Hudson Bay department store chain, drawing the lastest fashions on posed models and the like.
He would get his start doing sequential art in 1929, when he drew the adventures of Tarzan. In 1937, he started a strip called Prince Valiant, about a young knight in King Arthur’s court. His amazing and precise draftsmanship, with scenes drawn from landscapes Foster encountered during his own real life adventures, would win him fans everywhere. The panels in Prince Valiant were far more cinematic than what could be provided in movies at the time. Just look at the textures and the way he plays with shadows:
And, well… that haircut.
Among his fans was the greatest comic book artist of all time: Jack Kirby. Early in his career, Kirby would sometimes straight up copy panel from Prince Valiant, replicating the unique angles and compositions. His most direct homage, though, came from a story where Valiant disguised himself to retake the castle from villains. He decides his best course of action is to scare them off. So, with some goose flesh, he crafts a familiar looking mask. Yes… those fins on the side of this demon are webbed goose feet.