Before Hal Foster started his illustration and comics career, he held several jobs in Nova Scotia, from newspaper boy, woodchuck and hunting guide, to a stint as a gold prospector. In 1921, he finally chose to explore the fine arts, and cycled 1,000 miles from Manitoba to Chicago to study at the Chicago Art Institute, and later, at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
Working as a successful illustrator, Foster was asked in 1928 to make 300 illustrations for the 'Tarzan' comics. Although Harold Foster hated the Tarzan character, he nevertheless agreed to do a Sunday page of 'Tarzan' when the 300 illustrations he made were enthusiastically approved.
Then the legendary newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst laid his eyes on Hal Foster's 'Tarzan'. Hearst went to great lengths to get Foster to do a comic for him. As a response, Foster sent his idea for a comic named 'Derek, Son of Thane', which later became 'Prince Valiant'.
Upon receiving Foster's proposal, Hearst was so impressed that he promised Foster the ownership of 'Prince Valiant' if he would start the series, a very rare offer in those days. In 1937, the first Sunday page of Prince Valiant appeared and met with immediate success.
Foster's work has influenced a great many other artists, and was even copied by some of them.