Hagar the Horrible, 2/4/14
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a Chinese historical novel written in the 14th century about the 3rd century collapse of the Han Dynasty, contains a number of fascinating stories both historical and legendary. One of my favorite (probably fictional) episodes involves Zhuge Liang, a Daosit mystic who was also chief advisor to Liu Bei, one of the warlords fighting for supremacy as the Chinese Empire came apart. Liu Bei had made an alliance with another general, and their joint armies were camped across the river from their rivals; Zhuge Liang had earned the suspicion of Zhou Yu, a general in the allied army:
Zhou Yu was jealous of Zhuge Liang’s talent and felt that the latter would become a threat to his lord in future. He assigned Zhuge Liang the task of making 100,000 arrows in ten days or face execution for failure in duties under military law. Zhuge Liang promised that he could complete the mission in three days. With help from Lu Su, Zhuge Liang prepared 20 large boats, each manned by a few soldiers and filled with human-like figures made of straw and hay. Near dawn, when there was a great fog, Zhuge Liang deployed the boats and they sailed towards Cao Cao’s camp across the river. He ordered the troops to beat war drums loudly and shout orders to imitate the noise of an attack. Upon hearing the noise, Cao Cao’s troops rushed out to engage the enemy, but they were unsure of the enemy’s strength, because their vision was obscured by the fog. They fired volleys of arrows towards the sound of the drums and the arrows became stuck in the straw figures. The boats changed direction when one side became loaded with too much arrows so as to restore balance. In the meantime, Zhuge Liang was enjoying wine with Lu Su inside the cabin and they returned to camp when the fog cleared. By the time they returned to camp, Zhuge Liang had acquired more than 100,000 arrows and Zhou Yu had no choice but to let him off.
So Hagar’s idea definitely has a respectable lineage behind it! However, due to the extremely hardcore nature of Viking culture, the arrows to be used will be plucked not from straw mannequins but from his warriors’ own mangled flesh.
Hi and Lois, 2/4/14
Boy, Hi and Thirsty sure look like they’re having a blast in panel one, don’t they? We can all see why they’re avoiding their wives and families for some boisterous bro time, just hanging out together and staring silently into the middle distance. “Last call,” says Thirsty, expressionless, as they prepare to gulp down their enormous cocktails and step out into the night.