Hägar the Horrible

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Hägar the Horrible
Hagar the Horrible Logo.png
Hägar the Horrible
Author(s) Dik Browne (1973–88)
Chris Browne (1989–present)
Current status/scheduleRunning
Launch dateFebruary 4, 1973
Syndicate(s) King Features Syndicate
Genre(s)Humor, Gag-a-day

Hägar the Horrible is the title and main character of an American comic strip created by cartoonist Dik Browne and syndicated by King Features Syndicate. It first appeared in February 1973 and was an immediate success. [1] Since Browne's retirement in 1988 (and subsequent death), his son Chris Browne has continued the strip. [2] As of 2010, Hägar is distributed to 1,900 newspapers in 56 countries and translated into 12 languages. [3] The strip is a caricature commenting on modern-day life in the United States through a loose interpretation of Viking Age Scandinavian life.



"Hagar the Terrible" was the nickname given to the late Dik Browne by his sons; Browne adapted the name to Hägar the Horrible for the purposes of alliteration. After his death, Dik Browne's sons changed the title of the strip to Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible in tribute. [1] [2] The name is pronounced Hay-gar according to Chris Browne. [4]

Hägar (sometimes written "Hagar") is a shaggy, scruffy, overweight, red-bearded Viking. [5] He regularly raids England and sometimes France. Animation-industry writer Terence J. Sacks notes the juxtaposition of contrary qualities that make Hägar endearing to the reader: "Hägar's horned helmet, rough beard and shaggy tunic make him look somewhat like a caveman or Opera-Viking, but you also know Hägar has a soft underbelly occasionally exposed." [1]

Setting and format

The strip is set in the Middle Ages in an unnamed coastal village somewhere in Norway. Hägar's Norwegian lineage was revealed at least once in a daily strip (July 18, 1984). Hamlet asks Hägar if he can tell people they're Norwegian. Hägar replies that it isn't necessary: "It might sound like bragging."

Although anachronisms occur, they are not deliberate mainstays of the strip, as in other period burlesque strips like The Wizard of Id . The strip follows a standard gag-a-day daily format with an extended color sequence on Sundays.

Much of the humor centers around Hägar's interactions with his longship crew, especially "Lucky Eddie" (when on voyages or during periodic sacking and looting raids). Sometimes the humor would be at the tavern with the other Vikings, or Hagar dealing with his family, who are not like stereotypical Vikings. Supporting characters include his overbearing, nagging and occasionally jealous wife, Helga; their brilliant and sensitive son, Hamlet; their pretty but domestically hopeless daughter, Honi; Helga's pet duck, Kvack; Hägar's loyal and clever dog, Snert, and other secondary, recurring characters.

Illustration style

Hägar the Horrible uses a clear, sparse editorial-style line drawing, with minimal foreground or background detail, shading or embellishment. Observers argue this is likely derived from Dik Browne's experience as a courtroom illustrator and illustrator of maps of important World War II battles prior to 1942, plus his experience as an illustrator (Staff Sergeant) attached to a US Army Engineer unit where he drew technical diagrams, maps and other documents requiring very clear depictions. [6] Prior to Hägar, Browne was best known for co-creating the comic strip Hi and Lois with his partner, Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker. Browne was reportedly the real-life inspiration for the character Plato, the intellectual private in Beetle Bailey.

Cast of characters

Hagar the Horrible characters (l. to r.): Snert, Hamlet, Helga, Hagar, Honi, Kvack Hagar Family Christmas 20061225.png
Hägar the Horrible characters (l. to r.): Snert, Hamlet, Helga, Hägar, Honi, Kvack

Other recurring minor characters include an unnamed psychic or soothsayer, whom Honi and Hägar regularly consult, a balding waiter at Helga's favorite restaurant, "The King of England", and various Anglo-Saxon raiders who serve as Hägar's friends and rivals, such as Dirty Dirk and Mean Max.

An example of one strip highlighting Hägar's good intentions but cluelessness: Hägar returns from looting Paris with a present for his wife, Helga. He tells her it was ripped off a tub in a palace. He then turns on the faucet and eagerly encourages her to watch. When nothing happens, Hägar comments, "That's funny, when I turned it on in the palace, water came out." [2]


Hagar themed gift shop at Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida Hagar gift shop.JPG
Hägar themed gift shop at Islands of Adventure theme park in Florida

TV guest appearances

Hagar made his first animated appearance in a brief sketch paired with an interview of creator Dik Browne in the special The Fantastic Funnies broadcast on CBS May 15, 1980. Scott Beach (uncredited) provided the voice while the animation was produced by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson. [14]

A live action Hagar sketch was included in the special Mother's Day Sunday Funnies broadcast May 8, 1983 on NBC. [15]

TV special

In 1989, an animated television special was aired, Hägar the Horrible: Hägar Knows Best produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired on CBS, based on the very first plotline when the strip began in 1973. Hägar returns home from battle after two years—and faces a major culture shock. His son Hamlet has bilged out of the Viking Academy, and his beloved daughter Honi is now dating a minstrel named Lute. Hagar blames Helga for allowing Honi to date Lute and being okay with Hamlet reading books. Hägar breaks up his daughter and trains his son in archery and other Viking venues. However, after seeing how unhappy his children have become, as well as other Vikings calling his kids weird, Hägar takes charge in his own way and sets things right. The special starred Peter Cullen as Hägar, Lainie Kazan as Helga, Lydia Cornell as Honi, Josh Rodine as Hamlet, Jeff Doucette as Lucky Eddie, Don Most as Lute and Frank Welker as Snert, as well as providing additional voices. It is available on DVD within the "Advantage Cartoon Mega Pack" set.

Movie project

Variety reported in 2003 that Abandon Pictures had acquired the film rights to the comic strip and planned a live-action theatrical feature based on the character. [16] According to emails leaked in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, a film adaptation was in development in 2013 and 2014 at Sony Pictures Animation. [17] [18] In late 2014, Chris Browne confirmed that a deal was made with Sony Pictures to produce a film based on the character. [19]

Animated sitcom

On November 10, 2020, it was announced a CGI animated series co-produced by King Features and The Jim Henson Company is currently in the works. The series will be animated by Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. [20] [21]

Book collections and reprints

All titles are mass-market paperbacks by Dik Browne, unless otherwise noted.

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  1. 1 2 3 Terence J. Sacks, Opportunities in Cartooning and Animation Careers, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2007, ISBN   0-07-148206-7, ISBN   978-0-07-148206-6, 160 pages, pp 71
  2. 1 2 3 William B. Jones, Classics illustrated: a cultural history, with illustrations, McFarland: 2002, ISBN   0-7864-1077-9, 267 pages, pp:171, 229–230
  3. King Features Syndicate: Hägar the Horrible, access date Mars 2, 2017
  4. "Comics: Meet the Artist with Chris Browne", Washington Post, August 30, 2002.
  5. "Hägar the Horrible". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. October 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-23.[ permanent dead link ]
  6. Dik Browne, Brian Walker, The Best of Hägar, Henry Holt & Co: 1985, ISBN   0-03-005599-7, page 171
  7. Browne, Dik; Christopher Browne (1985). Hagar the Horrible's very nearly complete Viking handbook. New York: Workman Pub. p. 40. ISBN   0-89480-937-7.
  8. Also gløg
  9. Browne, Chris (March 4, 2012). "Hagar the Horrible". King Features. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012.
  10. Hendon, Donald W. (1989). Classic Failures in Product Marketing: Marketing Principles Violations and How to Avoid Them. New York: Quorum Books. p.  3. ISBN   0899303048.
  11. YouTube copies of advertisements .
  12. M. Keith Booker (28 October 2014). Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas [4 volumes]: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 1063. ISBN   978-0-313-39751-6.
  13. "The Fantastic Funnies" (1980)
  14. Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012, 2d ed. by Vincent Terrace
  15. Dunkley, Cathy. "Barbarian at gate: Abandon angles 'Hägar' for bigscreen pic", Variety , July 16, 2003
  16. Sony Pictures Animation (August 6, 2013). "Development Spending for week ending 07/28/13" (PDF). WikiLeaks. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  17. Sony Pictures Animation (October 27, 2014). "Development Spending for week ending 10/19/14" (PDF). WikiLeaks. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  18. Snyder, Alana (December 1, 2014). "Hagar the Horrible Author Releases One Monster of a Children's Book". 605 Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-09-28. Retrieved August 21, 2015. Browne revealed that Hagar the Horrible, a famous comic strip featured in about 2,000 newspapers worldwide loosely based on Browne’s family, is getting a movie deal with Sony Pictures.
  19. https://kidscreen.com/2020/11/10/king-features-henson-prep-horrible-adaptation/
  20. https://deadline.com/2020/11/hagar-the-horrible-king-features-the-jim-henson-company-animated-series-1234611870/