Hal Foster himself shows up at the King Feature Syndicate offices, and fishes Phil Holt’s unsolicited submission out of the trash.
Hal Foster was auditioning people to take over for him. So he would know who the candidates were, and who submitted what pieces of art. This drawing being in the trash implies its worth clearly enough.
Why is Hal Foster even going to the publisher’s office? Like a lot of cartoonists at the time, he lived in small-town Connecticut, not Times Square. It’s Tom Batiuk’s tired “bullpen” fantasy again, where all cartooning is done in person for no reason. And he doesn’t even get that right. Cullen Murphy, the son of Hal Foster’s successor John Cullen Murphy, spoke of the community of artists who had all moved to Connecticut and worked with each other in person. It was a real-life bullpen, it’s relevant to this story, and Batiuk just ignores it.
This portrayal seems unbecoming of a real person who was known for being formal and proper. The one quote about Foster on his Wikipedia page says he was “a very stern gentleman, very stern, no nonsense. You could never call him Hal or Harold, it’s Mr. Foster… you don’t see that kind of people anymore, the ones that really command your respect.”
It doesn’t feel like he commands much respect from Batiuk. Though he did get the “Mr. Foster” bit right.