Wednesday, September 10, 2014
DO NOT mess with the nanny!
You see that wild-eyed young lady up there? That's Tillicum, an Indian lass who (through a series of odd adventures) ended up in King Arthur's England, helping take care of Prince Valiant's first-born son Arn.
The guy she's trying to knife to death is Boltar, a Viking warrior and her future husband. You do NOT mess with Tillicum. Even if she's in love with you, it's not a good idea.
And if you mess with one of her loved ones--well, there are easier ways of committing suicide.
Tillicum's Crowning Moment of Awesome is in a story arc from late 1952. By this time, she and Boltar are married and they've been allowed to bring Arn home with them for a visit. But the little scamp manages to wander off on his own, where he gets kidnapped by a band of villains.
She soon realizes that Arn is missing. Here, her considerable skills as a tracker come into play. Subtle clues (a crushed blade of grass--a torn spider web--a brook with the mud stirred up) soon tell her what happened and put her on the trail of the kidnappers.
But there was no time to return to her husband for help. Tillicum is on her own.
Which actually isn't a problem for her. Knowing Boltar will be searching for her soon, she leaves a clear trail behind her while closing in on Arn and the bad guys. When she catches up to them, she sneaks into the camp at night to free the boy.
You'd think that would be enough to satisfy her, but remember that you simply do not mess with anyone that Tillicum cares about.
While escaping from the camp, she deliberately leaves a trail that the kidnappers can follow while she doubles back along the route Boltar will be traveling. When they catch up to her, she empties a saddle with her a well-placed arrow. Boltar arrives in time to take out another villain with a thrown axe.
The story arc is a short one--running just five Sundays. But it is truly epic. Hal Foster was a magnificent storyteller, combining perfect art with well-written narration and characters who can only be described as glorious. Regular readers of the strip would have already come to love Tillicum in earlier appearances for her bravery, loyalty and intelligence. Her tempestuous courtship with Boltar had been touching, funny and oddly believable. And here her own short but dazzling adventure cements her place as one of the most memorable supporting characters in Prince Valiant's long run.