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
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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

Hägar the Horrible is the title and main character of an American comic strip created by cartoonist Dik Browne (1917–1989), 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 58 countries and translated into 13 languages.[3] The strip is a caricature and loose interpretation of medieval 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 by 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 primitive viking, but you also know Hägar has a soft underbelly occasionally exposed."[1]

Setting and format[edit]

The strip is set more-or-less firmly 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 are not unknown, 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), in the tavern or at home with his combative spouse and family. 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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

International syndication[edit]


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

TV special[edit]

In 1989, a television special Hägar the Horrible: "Hagar 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 beloved daughter Honi is engaged to a wimpy, untalented wastrel of a minstrel named Lute. Even worse, he discovers his young son Hamlet was expelled from the Viking Academy. He's now reading books and becoming more sophisticated—which he blames his wife Helga for allowing to happen. The special starred Peter Cullen as Hägar, singer/actress Lainie Kazan as Helga, Lydia Cornell as Honi, child voice actor Josh Rodine as Hamlet, Jeff Doucette as Lucky Eddie, Don Most as Lute and veteran voice actor Frank Welker as Snert and Kvack.

Movie project[edit]

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.[15]

Book collections and reprints[edit]

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

  • Hägar the Horrible #1 (1974) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible #2 (1975) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible on the Loose (#3) (1975) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: The Big Bands Are Back! (trade paperback, 1975) Grosset & Dunlap
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Hägar the Horrible (trade paperback, 1975) Windmill/E.P. Dutton
  • Hägar the Horrible: The Brutish Are Coming (1976) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible on the Rack (1976) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Sack Time (1976) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Hägar's Night Out (1977) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible Brings 'Em Back Alive! (1977) Tempo
  • Hägar Hits the Mark: The Best of the Barbarian! (1977) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Born Leader (1978) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Hägar and the Basilisk and Other Tales (trade paperback, 1978) Sunridge Press
  • Hägar the Horrible: Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back! (1980) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Animal Haus! (1981) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: My Feet Are Really Killing Me(1981) Tempo
  • The Best of Hägar the Horrible (trade paperback, 1981) Wallaby
  • The Very Best of Hägar the Horrible (trade paperback, 1982) Wallaby
  • Hägar the Horrible: Midnight Munchies (1982) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Vikings Are Fun (1982) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Sacking Paris on a Budget (1982) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Happy Hour (1983) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Helga's Revenge (1983) Tempo
  • Hägar the Horrible: Tall Tales (1983) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Hear No Evil (Do No Work) (1983) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Room for One More (1984) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: The Simple Life (1984) Charter
  • Hägar the Horrible: Excuse Me! (1984) Charter
  • Hägar the Horrible: Horns of Plenty (1984) Charter
  • Hägar the Horrible: Hägar at Work (1985) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: All the World Loves a Lover (1985) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Face-Stuffer's Anonymous (1985) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Gangway!! (1985) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Roman Holiday (1985) Charter
  • Hägar the Horrible: Have You Been Uptight Lately? (1985) Charter
  • The Best of Hägar the Horrible (trade paperback, 1985) Comicana
  • Hägar the Horrible's Very Nearly Complete Viking Handbook by Dik Browne, Chris Browne (trade paperback, 1985) Workman Pub. ISBN 0-89480-937-7
  • Hägar the Horrible: Pillage Idiot (1986) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Out on a Limb (1986) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Strapped for Cash (1987) Charter
  • Hägar the Horrible: My Feet Are Drunk (1987) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: The Nord Star (1987) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Spring Cleaning (1988) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Hi Dear, Your Hair Looks Great! (1988) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible and the Golden Maiden (1989) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Sack Time (1989) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Handyman Special (1989) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Norse Code (1989) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Smotherly Love (1989) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Look Sharp! (1989) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Silly Sailing (1990) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: Start the Invasion Without Me! (1990) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: A Piece of the Pie! (1990) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: We're Doing Lunch by Chris Browne (1991) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: I Dream of Genie!? (1991) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: I See London, I See France... (1991) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Again & Again (1991) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Fish Fly (1991) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Special Delivery (1992) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Motley Crew (1992) Tor
  • Hägar the Horrible: Things That Go Bump... (1992) Tor
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: Another Fish Story by Chris Browne (1992) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: Plunder Blunder by Chris Browne (1992) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Huggable by Chris Browne (1993) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: That Dreaded... Bed Head by Chris Browne (1993) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: A Turn for the Worse by Chris Browne (1993) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: Feeling "Fortune"-ate? by Chris Browne (1994) Jove
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible: Funny Bunnies by Chris Browne (1994) Jove
  • Hägar the Horrible: The Epic Chronicles: Dailies 1973–1974 by Dik Browne (hardcover, November 2010) Titan Books ISBN 1-84856-233-0


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c 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 July 16, 2009
  4. ^ "Comics: Meet the Artist with Chris Browne", Washington Post, August 30, 2002.
  5. ^ "Hägar the Horrible". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 1008-10-19. Retrieved 2008-10-23.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ Dik Browne, Brian Walker, The Best of Hägar, Henry Holt & Co: 1985, ISBN 0-03-005599-7: 238 page: pp171
  7. ^ a b c d Browne, Chris (c). Hägar the Horrible. May 14, 2014, King Features Syndicate.
  8. ^ Browne, Dik; Christopher Browne (1985). Hagar the Horrible's very nearly complete Viking handbook. New York: Workman Pub. p. 15. ISBN 0-89480-937-7. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ Also gløg
  11. ^ Browne, Chris (March 4, 2012). "Hagar the Horrible". King Features. 
  12. ^ "Myndasögur Moggans". Morgunblaðið. 24 Jan 2006. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ YouTube copies of advertisements [1][2][3][4][5].
  15. ^ Dunkley, Cathy. "Barbarian at gate: Abandon angles 'Hägar' for bigscreen pic", Variety, July 16, 2003

External links[edit]