Hagar the Horrible is created by Dik Browne. A couple jokes are included for review purposes but all credit to Dik Browne and King Features Syndicate, Inc.
There’s a lot this time!
Recently I read the following Hagar collections:
Hear No Evil, Do No Work (1983)
Room for One More (1984)
Have You Been Uptight Lately? (1985)
Pillage Idiot (1986)
The Nord Star (1987)
Norse Code (1989)
Sack Time (1989)
Smotherly Love (1989)
Again and Again (1991)
I See London I See France (1991)
Hagar is a simple Viking. He wants to pillage, bring his haul home, have a couple drinks and dinner, then relax at home. Many sitcoms were built around the head of the household going to work, meeting his friends at the bar, going home, and then we all laugh at what happens along the way. Putting this classic trope into a Norse package shows the timelessness of the rat race lifestyle. Speaking of, I had to send this one to my wife:
Timeless and universal, but also kind of tired. He loves his wife but she’s always making him do stuff. His best friend is a moron. His kids are great but a pain at times. Why is there always an annoying pet at my feet? It works now, it works in the 80’s television I grew up on, the 50’s and 60’s TV our parents watched, the original comic strips showing the modern day of 1930’s America, the Stone Age, the Space Age, and even Nordic times. Still enjoyable, and there were some great ones in here. But in my older years I’m more drawn to strips – new or classic – that are telling jokes and stories only they can tell. For Better or For Worse, Pearls Before Swine, and others have a distinct voice. I want a gag that only works within one strip. There’s not much difference between Dagwood eating a sandwich and Hagar eating a drumstick.
Until I read the Sunday collections. These are amazing! Hear No Evil (Do No Work), Room for One More, and Pillage Idiot are collections of only Sunday strips. The extended format of Sunday strips allow for a bigger exploration of Hagar’s world. The Norse world. And a loose time frame too. Battle the English, hang out with Attila the Hun, what’s this new thing called Christianity? The battles are bigger. The journeys are longer. On Sundays Hagar is no longer a three panel quick set up and the punchline. Sundays are for adventure. Sundays are full of potential. On Sunday Hagar becomes the Phantom, a hero of the funny pages. While so many publishers are looking for modern takes on characters, I have my pitch right here for Hagar by way of Conan. To hear the lamentations and the giggles of women.
Reading all of these books in one sitting allowed me to see things that I’m sure wouldn’t have crossed my mind if I read them over years. There’s nearly 10 years in between the first and last books I read and if I consumed all of these over 10 years my reaction would be different. There were some books with too many repeated strips. I didn’t read all of these in chronological order, just grabbed one from the stack then another. So it was a bit of coincidence that the first two books I read had some crossover.
Hagar has been little seen in pop culture. A couple of TV appearances but none in nearly 40 years. Some old advertising mascot spots. But there is a rumor of a movie in production. I’m hoping much like the Sunday strips, and extended Hagar adventure – movie length – will be his best tale to date.