Friday, 14 October 2011

Principe Valiente and Spanish swashbucklers

Reading comics is a great way to learn a foreign language, so when I saw reprints of the 1930s Prince Valiant comics in Spanish on a newsstand in Seville, I had to get them. Annoyingly, the first book (1937) wasn't available, but as comics are the sort of thing you can dip into at any point, I got 1938 and 1939 anyway. I'm not sure that all the words I have learned will be useful, even though we do do a lot of sightseeing when in Spain, but it's good fun to read the comics. Principe Valiente is probably quite a good one for a beginner like myself as there are no speech bubbles, just captions, so (hopefully) less slang.

Prince Valiant was first printed in 1937 and is still going today. Along the way he's got married, had kids and even grandchildren. Early titles included Derek, Son of Thane or Prince Arn. Can you imagine a hero called Derek?! Valiant is a rather better name, although I do find it a bit odd that he has such a fetching bob and everyone calls him Val; at times I picture Louise Brooks playing him!

The Spanish seem to do some very good swashbucklers right now. In the past when I've been there all I've managed to find on telly are strange talk shows and soap operas, although Mr Robot and I did spend a happy afternoon watching Wheel of Fortune in a bar in Toledo. (We even managed to work out the phrase for 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' in Spanish before the Spanish competitors got it, which we were quite pleased with.) But I digress.
This time there were some ripping programmes on the telly, one a costume drama which seemed to have a king and queen estranged from each other, prompting her to dress up in a flag and prove to him how much the people loved her. He then died. I couldn't really follow that one as there was lots of talking and not much action. However, El Aguila Roja (trans: The Red Eagle), an adventure series set in the 17th century, was much more ripping stuff. I'm guessing from the enormous official Aguila Roja website it's extremely popular. I definitely liked it, there was plenty of swordfighting and manly crumpet.

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