The Time Machine: Hagar the Horrible by Richard Arthur Browne

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

I’ve been reading Hagar the Horrible strip for a very long time. In fact, when I had first chanced upon Hagar’s not-so-horrible-and-a-bit-loveable character, I would barely understand half of what transpired in the Hagar the Horrible cartoons.

Last night when I got into the time-machine, I set the dial to arrive in the year 1975, which was a couple of years after Hagar the Horrible went into circulation.

Here’s a quick biographical sketch of Hagar’s dad/creator, Dik Browne (or Richard Arthur Browne).

About Dik Browne

Browne was born on August 19, 1917 and his first comic strip was Jinny Jeep, which he created for the engineering unit of the US Army. Until the mid-fifties, he worked worked as an illustrator for magazines and advertising agencies, but in 1954, he got together with Mort Walker (Yes, Mort Walker of the Beatle Bailey fame,) to create Hi and Lois. The Browne and the Walker family still work together on that strip. (It never ceases to amaze me how the sons of these famous cartoonists are able to carry on their fathers’ legacies…especially as these particular legacies require exceptional drawing/writing skills. As I always say, genes are important…very very important!)

Any way, as it always happens with any smart and intelligent cartoonist, Browne too began to feel some spiritual unrest. He wanted to create his own strip. One that would be built around his ideas. So in 1973, Hagar the Horrible was born with a shaggy beard, a beaten horned helmet, a shield and a spear, and the comic strip was syndicated by King Features Syndicate in newspapers and magazines world-wide.

Dik Browne died on 6th Jun 1989. His two sons, Chris Browne and Chance Browne now write and illustrate Hagar the Horrible.

About Hagar the Horrible and Other Characters in the Strip

Hagar the Horrible is syndicated to 1900 newspapers (including The Times of India) in 58 countries and is also translated in 13 languages.

Some of the important characters in this comic strip are:

Hagar the Horrible

Hagar the Horrible is a Viking warrior who induces fear in the hearts of his enemies, but at the same time, he loves his family and his dog. Hagar is fat and had a slovenly appearance (he doesn’t like baths and avoids them.) At times he’s smart (for instance, he knows how to flatter his wife when she’s angry with him,) but more often he’s not.

Lucky Eddie – friend

Hagar has a friend – a thin, reed-like unlucky (!) character who’s called Lucky Eddie. Eddie is educated but he doesn’t appear to possess common-sense and hence his character is that of a gangly, awkward, unvikinglike viking.

Helga – wife

Hagar’s wife Helga is a huge woman, who is the matron of Hagar’s household. Helga is fussy about hygiene and is always found nagging Hagar for his not-so-clean ways. Helga wants her daughter Honi to grow up with traditional values, but quite like the modern day teenager, Honi has a mind of her own.

Honi – daughter

Honi, Hagar’s daughter doesn’t consider feminity a virtue. She’s tomboyish and prefers to wield a spear and not a ladle. This of course is not appreciated by Helga and so Helga and Honi are often shown having mother-daughter disagreements. Honi wears a winged helmet and she can be quite intimidating when she wants to.

Hamlet – Son

Hamlet loves to read. He is quiet and studious and unlike his sister, completely disinterested in being what he was born to become, a Viking. Hagar wants the boy to become a Viking, and he feels ashamed that his son should not want to follow the Viking order.

Snert – dog

This “v”oofing dog wears a tiny Viking helmet, does nothing, and lazes around. Hagar loves him and is seen trying to make the dog obey is commands.

 

What is the Secret behind the Popularity of Hagar the Horrible?

(The Caricaturist’s Opinion – Don’t use it for submitting Assignments, and if you do, be warned that I shall accept no responsibility for your getting a D…or even an F!)

I think that this comic strip appeals to a lot of people because of the following three reasons:

1. Hagar’s family is enveloped in a sense of timelessness, and the fact that everyday family humor is presented through a family that lived in another age, adds to its timelessness.

2. The characters in Hagar are the kind of people that you find in the real world, yet their characteristics have been exaggerated at times to build the contrast. Compare the character of Honi with Hamlet’s, and that of Hagar with Lucky Eddie’s.

3. The humor is simple. It doesn’t make you think. For every person who loves doing crosswords, there are perhaps 10 who have neither the time nor the inclination to tire out their gray cells…

🙂

The Time Machine: Exploration Mission 2 :: The History of the Popular Comic Strip – Beetle Bailey.

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips PostsBeetle Bailey – a comic strip that begun on September 4, 1950, about sixty years ago, and which is still drawn by its creator Mort Walker, has been one of the most popular comic strips that this world has ever seen.

The Protagonist: Private Beetle Bailey

Once upon a time, Beetle was a college student, but after only about six months of the strip’s beginning, he left college to enlist in the US Army, and became their most famous and longest serving Private ever. Ever since he joined the army, Beetle Bailey has remained there – never growing, neither in position nor in age. Private Beetle Bailey is the laziest man at Camp Swampy, and for this reason his boss Sergeant Snorkel is never pleased with him. Beetle isn’t just lazy, he also suffers from bouts of insubordination. You can’t ever see Beetle’s eyes because they are always hidden under his cap or hat, whichever the case may be.

He’s been dreaming of getting out of the army for the last sixty years, but he has been unsuccessful so far.

Seargent Snorkel:

Remember the paunchy sergeant (Sarge) who wears a very wrinkled Garrison Hat, and who generally just can’t stand Beetel Bailey, but once in a while, exhibits maudlin behavior towards him. He loves his dog Otto, and he loves the army. Obviously he fails to establish an emotional connect with Beetle who dreams of leaving the army.

Other Important Characters in the Beetle Bailey Comic Strip:

1. Otto – Snorkel’s army uniform clad bull-dog, who walks on his hinds (well, he does! When he was introduced he walked the four-legged walk, but then he decided to be upright in all matters, including his posture.) He wears the army uniform (thus, looks like a miniature of Sarge) and he too doesn’t like Beetle.
2. General Halftrack – The old, mustached, alcoholic camp commander, who can often be seen with a golf-stick. Halftrack tracks only half the things (for instance, Miss Buxley) and leaves the other half untracked (for instance, his wife Martha).
3. Miss Buxley – The name tells you what she must look like. Yes. She’s the buxom beauty who is Halftracks Personal Assistant…and half the population of Camp Swampy is swamped by her charms.
4.Private Blips (not Bips, my dear Indian readers,) – Well…she’s Halftrack’s military secretary, who obviously doesn’t like the looks of Miss Buxley (Blips’ antithesis). While Buxley is pretty and voluptuous, Blips is thin and…well you know what; while Buxley can’t do anything right, Blips is downright accurate and efficient! To make a long story short, they are like oil and water…and they don’t mix.

New Tech-tech Characters in Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey Comics:

Gizmo: The guy who helps the Commander with all the techy stuff. His name was selected after a contest (from 84, 725 entries – WOW!)

Read about all the characters in the Beetle Bailey comic strip here.

The Creator of Beetle Bailey – Mort Walker:

Mort Walker’s Biography

Here’s a quick Biographical sketch of this prolific cartoonist.
(Source: http://beetle.king-online.com/morts-bio/)

Mort Walker was born in 1923, in Kansas. He published his first comic when he was 11! (Whew!) By the time he was 18, he had become the Chief Editorial Designer for Hallmark Cards. He spent his early twenties in the army and returned  to graduate from the University of Missouri.He then tried for a job of a Cartoonist in NY but he got his break only after facing the rejection of about 200 cartoons (whew…again!) Then he found Beetle Bailey…and rest as they say is history.

Mort Walker’s family corporation Comicana owns Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois and 7 other comic strips.

“Beetle Bailey” is syndicated to 1,800 newspapers, in more than 50 countries, with a readership of more than 200 Million. Read more about Beetle Bailey and Mort Walker here.