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Hägar the Horrible is the title and the name of the protagonist of a print syndication currently syndicated by King features Syndicate comic strip created by the late Dik Browne and currently drawn by son Chris Browne. It first appeared in February 1973, was immediately a success and is currently distributed to 1,900 newspapers in 58 countries, in 13 languages. The strip is a caricature of and loose interpretation of Viking and medieval Scandinavian life as presented in Henrik Ibsen's play The Vikings at Helgeland. The strip appears most commonly in black and white.

Hägar the Viking

Hägar the Terrible was the nickname given to the late Dik Browne by his sons, who apparently bore an uncanny resemblance to the Hägar character, although Hägar is shorter, stouter and comically clueless and short-tempered. However, it wasn't until later that Dik Browne's sons abruptly changed the title of his work in reverence of his death. The name is pronounced Hay-gar by Chris Browne.

Hägar (sometimes written sans umlaut) is a shaggy, scruffy, overweight, red-bearded, Danish Viking. He regularly raids Englandmarker and sometimes Francemarker. Sacks notes the juxtaposition of contrary qualities make Hagar immediately endearing to the reader:

Hagar's horned helmet, rough beard and shaggy tunic make him look somewhat like a caveman or primitive viking, but you also know Hagar has a soft underbelly occasionally exposedMuch humor of the comic strip centers on Hägar's interactions with his longship crew, especially "Lucky" Eddie or when not on his voyages or in the tavern, interactions between Hagar and his family; his overbearing, combative, occasionally jealous and nagging wife Helga; their brilliant and sensitive son Hamlet; their pretty and bimbo-like daughter Honi; Helga's pet duck Kvack; Hägar's loyal, clever dog Snert and, or other minor recurrent characters.
For a brief time, the strip had its own brand of sponsored soda, which was unfortunately named "Hägar the Horrible Cola". It is generally recalled as one of the funnier flops of the marketing industry.
In the UK, Hägar the Horrible and other characters from the strip were used in the late 1980s to advertise the beer Skol Lager, produced in the UK by Danish brewers Carlsberg, on billboard and in a series of popular television commercials. The commercials were animated and mainly in black and white, as per the daily newspaper comic strip, although the actual beer always appeared in color.

There was a Hägar the Horrible half hour animated special in 1989 with Peter Cullen as the voice of Hägar and it is available on DVD.

From 1981 until the mid 1990s, a representation of Hägar served as the mascot for the Cleveland State Universitymarker Vikings.
Since Dik Browne's retirement in 1988 (and subsequent death), his son Chris has continued the comic.

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 battles of World War 2 prior to 1942, and experience as an illustrator (Staff Sergeant) attached to an US Army Engineer unit where he drew technical diagrams, maps and other documents requiring very clear depictions

Major characters

The major characters in the strip include:
  • Eddie (called Lucky Eddie by all but himself) is Hägar's first mate, Hägar's best friend and also lieutenant in Viking raids. Comically contrary to popular depictions of Vikings as brawny macho warriors, Eddy is a short, skinny, naïve warrior and rather weak. He wears a funnel, or perhaps colander, rather than a helmet, on his head.
  • Hägar ("the Horrible"): the Danish Viking protagonist. Hägar is both a fierce warrior and a family man. A running gag is his exceptionally poor personal hygiene and Hägar's simplistic cluelessness, often finding at odds with his family.
  • Hamlet: Hägar's (and Helga's) intelligent, clean and studious young son who is almost always seen reading a book (ironic because books weren't available during the Viking age); he shows no interest in becoming a Viking, which makes him a shame of the family especially among Hagar though Helga and Honi are more tolerant of it and encourage his education. He is the victim of female character Hernia's unrequited affection.
  • Helga: Hagar's large-framed, bossy housewife. She is the quintessential maternal "over-mothering" figure. Helga often bickers with Hägar over Hägar's poor habits such as forgetting to wash his hands or not wiping his feet before entering. She is seen trying to teach her old-fashioned values to her daughter Honi, though Honi never truly understands and will contradict what she says. Her appearance is based on that of a Wagner Valkyrie-like operatic character (such as Brynhildr).
  • Hernia: a young, tomboyish teenage girl deeply infatuated with Hamlet, though her love is unrequited often to her comical melodramatic dismay.
  • Honi: Hägar's (and Helga's) beloved, beautiful, sweet yet extremely naive and simple-minded 16-year-old daughter,who is dressed as a younger Valkyrie with a winged helmet, metallic breastplate and a very long skirt made of chainmail. Helga constantly tries to marry her off much to her hidden dismay, and Helga often sees her as an "old maid" and tries to teach her how to cook. She was romantically involved with Lute from the very beginnging of the comic strip. She is also a Viking warrior like her father, her weapons of choice are a spear and shield.
  • Kvack: the family's German duck. Kvack is Helga's friend and confidante - she will usually spy on Hägar and quack loudly whenever he does something he is not supposed to do (like having another drink). Obviously, Hägar does not like Kvack at all and would like to get rid of her. Being a German duck, Kvack "kvacks" with an accent. Later on in the strip, she brought home a number of ducklings, which Helga "mothers" as if they were human grandchildren.
  • Lute: a talentless bard who can neither play lute well, sing in tune nor rhyme properly (though Lute remains totally oblivious to everyone else's perception that he is painfully woeful and considers himself quite the talent). He is Honi's boyfriend, though Honi is in control of their relationship (similar to Helga and Hagar); they are perpetually engaged though they still haven't married yet. His name is reference to the stringed instrument of the same name, which he is often seen playing albeit (apparently unaware) poorly.
  • Snert: Hägar's dog. Snert is supposed to be a bird/hunting dog, but the reader gets the impression that most of the time he just does not feel like working. Snert understands everything Hägar tells him, but usually refuses to do what he is told. Sometimes Snert is depicted as having a "wife" and a couple of puppies, but they hardly play any role at all in the comic.
  • Other recurrent minor characters include: Dr. Zook (a druid-like cowled physician who gives primarily nutritional and psychiatric advice) and is a notorious quack, Helga's father (a geriatric Viking whose beard reaches his feet, with a taste for young women), Helga's mother (the stereotypical mother-in-law), the king's officious tax collectors (who dress in cap and gown), Mr. Giggles (a torturer who tortures captives by tickle), the unpleasant Koya the Lawyer, the Executioner, a psychic medium or soothsayer who Honi and Helga regularly consult, a balding waiter at Helga's favorite restaurant, the "King of England", and various Anglo-Saxon raiders who serve as Hägar's rivals.

Running gags

  • Hägar and Lucky Eddie are shown shipwrecked on a tiny island. Various gags about life on the island, though it is never disclosed never how they originally got there nor how/when they are rescued.
  • The tax collector and his assistant paying Hägar a visit to collect taxes for the king. (Hägar despises having to pay taxes.)
  • Hägar and Lucky Eddie stranded at the edge of a cliff with a horde of enemy warriors charging them.
  • Hägar and Lucky Eddie strung up by their hands and legs to the wall of a dungeon (often visited by a Mr. Giggles, who torments them with tickling).
  • Hägar's mother-in-law paying a visit.
  • Hägar's annual bath ritual.
  • Hagar visiting the quack Dr. Zook.
  • Hägar and his troops invading other countries. These raids are referred to by the characters as "business trips."
  • Hägar's horns falling off when he lies.
  • Hägar and Lucky Eddie about to be burned at the stake.

And example of one strip highlighting Hägar's good intentions, but total cluelessness is:
Hägar returns from burning and looting in Paris, and present his expectant wife Helga with a present. He tells her it was ripped off a tub in a palace- he 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"

Names in other countries

  • Argentinamarker: Olaf el vikingo (Spanish for Olaf the Viking)
  • Belgiummarker: Hägar Dünor le Viking (French for Hägar Dünor the Viking) and Hagar de Verschrikkelijke (Dutch for Hagar the Horrible)
  • Brazilmarker: Hagar, o Horrível (Portuguese for Hagar the Horrible)
  • Colombiamarker and Latin America: Olafo el Amargado (Spanish for Olaf the Bitter Man)
  • Croatiamarker: Hogar strašni (Hägar the horrible/terrifying)
  • Denmarkmarker: Hagbard (Danish for Hägar)
  • Ecuadormarker: Olafo el vikingo (Spanish for Olaf the viking)
  • Estoniamarker: Hagar Hirmus (Estonian for Hagar the Dreadful)
  • Finlandmarker: Harald Hirmuinen (Finnish for Harald the Terrible)
  • Francemarker: Hägar Dünor le Viking (French for Hägar Dünor the Viking, Dünor being a pun for of the north, La Gare du Nord being one of Paris' main train stations)
  • Germanymarker: Hägar der Schreckliche (German for Hägar the Horrible/Terrifying)
  • Greecemarker: Χάγκαρ ο Απαίσιος (Greek for Hägar the Horrible)
  • Hungarymarker Hagar a tulok (Hungarian for Hagar the Bullock)
  • Icelandmarker: Hrólfur Hræðilegi (Icelandic for Hrólfur the Horrible/Terrifying)
  • Indonesiamarker: sang Viking Hägar or its' English literal Hägar the Viking
  • Iranmarker: هاگار هولناک (Persian for Hägar the Horrible)
  • Italymarker: Hagar l'Orribile (Italian for Hagar the Horrible)
  • Mexicomarker: Olafo, el Amargado (Olaf the Embittered or Bitter)
  • Norwaymarker: Hårek den hardbalne (Norwegian for Hårek the hardy)
  • Paraguaymarker: Olaf, el Vikingo (Spanish for Olaf the Viking)
  • Portugalmarker Hagar, o Horrível (Portuguese for Hagar the Horrible)
  • Serbiamarker: Хогар Страшни (Hogar Strašni) (Serbian for Hogar the Horrible/Terrifying)
  • Sloveniamarker Hogar Grozni (Slovenian for Hagar the Horrible)
  • South Africa: Hägar die Verskriklike (Afrikaans for Hagar the Horrible/Terrifying)
  • Spainmarker: Olafo, el Terrible (Spanish for Olaf the Terrible)
  • Swedenmarker: Hagbard Handfaste (Swedish for Hagbard the strong-handed. Hagbard was a legendary Scandinavian warrior.)
  • Turkeymarker: Bastır Viking

TV Special

In 1989, a Hägar the Horrible animated television special aired on CBS, it was focused around the very first plotline when the strip began in 1973, as it was about Hägar returning from battle after 2 years and facing a major culture shock, his beloved daughter Honi is engaged to the wimpy untalented minstrel named Lute and his younger son Hamlet was expelled from the Viking Academy and begins reading books and becomes more sophisticated, which he blames wife Helga for allowing to happen. The special starred Peter Cullen as Hägar, singer/actress Lainie Kazan as Helga, actress Lydia Cornell as Honi, child voice actor Jeff Rodine as Hamlet, actor Jeff Doucette as Lucky Eddie, actor Don Most as Lute and veteran voice actor Frank Welker as Snert and Kvack.


According to many online sources, a live-action Hägar the Horrible movie is in the works possible releasing in 2010 or 2011, the production company is Abandon Pictures.


Note: In alphabetical, not chronological order.


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