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Being a Viking ain’t what it used to be

Hagar the Horrible, 7/26/04

As a former professional historian in training, I can assure you that the Vikings were a thoroughly nasty lot. They pillaged, destroyed, raped, maimed, enslaved, and looted their way across northern Europe for several centuries. There was a set prayer in the Irish church’s prayer book that went, “From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, protect us.” Thus, I have to believe that the spirits of thousands of Viking warriors in Valhalla moan with disgust every day when they read Hagar the Horrible.

Two aspects of this strip caught my eyes. First, the flag: frankly, I’m impressed that Chris Browne executed a semi-decent Scandinavian flag here. Hagar supposedly lives in Norway, so maybe that’s what the flag is supposed to be, though the shoddy coloring job makes it look as if it’s the flag of Normandy. If we take the Old Norse sagas as our guide, though, it’s probably more accurate to imagine that it’s his own personal banner, and that as Hagar says, he’s carving out a private chiefdom for himself in this bleak and deserted land, where he will preside over his men’s council as they spar over women, fight their blood enemies, and loot the weaker races around them. Thus it’s all the more disappointing that Hagar talks real estate with the first local he sees, rather than roasting him alive in a sacrifice to Odin.

Which brings me to my next observation. What exactly is the deal with this guy’s outfit? People in Hagar the Horrible have very specific clothes based on their profession, so I’ve seen this get-up before, but I can’t for the life of me tell what it’s supposed to represent. He looks not unlike a goth pastry chef, to be honest.

15 responses to “Being a Viking ain’t what it used to be”

  1. Stan
    November 16th, 2004 at 5:16 pm [Reply]

    Hagar must be pre-Christian, right? So I don’t think the flag is correct. I don’t know what actual Viking flags looked like, but I’ll bet they didn’t have crosses on them.

  2. Matt
    January 13th, 2005 at 5:54 pm [Reply]

    I’m baffled that somebody thinks that christians were the first ones to use two perpendicular and crossing lines as a symbol. That cross doesn’t even look vaguely Christian. The proportions are all wrong, blast it!!

  3. Finn
    January 19th, 2005 at 7:56 am [Reply]

    Well the first Christian church in Norway
    was around 800 AD. The Viking age was
    around +/- 700-1100 AD, so Hagar could have been a Christian. The flag although came later around 1700-1800 AD, I think it was. The Vikings were definitely not just wild beasts as the story often is told. they were also traders and merchants, trading from Bagdad to Greenland. Go Vikings!

  4. Speedy
    January 19th, 2005 at 3:09 pm [Reply]

    What’s all the fuss about? IT’S A COMIC STRIP not a masterpiece in an art museum. So his flag and clothes aren’t accurate. GET OVER IT. It’s pure American humor.

  5. kc
    January 20th, 2005 at 5:06 pm [Reply]

    i think the “goth chef” is actually a cleric of some sort, since the church was almost a governing body in some areas (the first courts were church courts, I think). that would explain the hat AND robe….

    This is a GREAT site.

  6. FatGuyWithMustache
    January 23rd, 2005 at 3:23 am [Reply]

    He’s the lawyer, I think. At least he looks like the lawyer who pops up every so often.

  7. Dan
    January 27th, 2005 at 1:12 pm [Reply]

    “It’s pure American humor.”

    So you say.

  8. Sharon Kugler
    February 17th, 2005 at 1:05 am [Reply]

    I must agree with FatGuyWithMustache.
    He looks like the lawyer and hey, it’s a real estate transaction.

  9. Mai
    February 20th, 2005 at 3:45 am [Reply]

    get over it u loser. it’s sposed to b funny, not accurate, get a life

  10. Chris Browne
    March 3rd, 2005 at 10:08 am [Reply]

    Hi, I’m the cartoonist of Hagar. It was the flag of Norway when it left here. Daily comics are colored locally and they just colored it wrong. The flags of Norway and Sweden are the same with different colors and I was hoping they would color them correctly in each country. I’m including the URL of my other strip, Raising Duncan, which I feel is a better comic strip. I live in Florida with my wife and too many dogs.

  11. Woodrowfan
    March 17th, 2005 at 5:16 pm [Reply]

    If Raising Duncan is better (and I agree) why did you stop drawing it??

  12. Kull
    July 12th, 2005 at 6:49 am [Reply]

    To chris browne.

    Do not feel obliged to answer every internet geek that criticises your work since he has not a life of his own.

    Hagar is funny and you’re doing a great job in keeping your dad’s work alive.

    When I was a kid (I am italian) Dik Browne’s ‘hi and lois’ was translated in a local kids’ magazine and thus I was exposed to his work for the first time.

    Later, in school, we used Hagar the Horrible’s strips as a learning tool for english.

    So kee up your work and salute your brother that still works on ‘hi and lois’.

    Kull the Valusian.

  13. Chris Browne
    August 10th, 2005 at 1:13 am [Reply]

    Hi again! Raising Duncan just wasn’t in enough papers for the syndicate to justify keeping it going, so they pulled the plug. It had a large internet following and I have boxes of fan mail here for it but for a strip to make it you have to be in papers. Ah well! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! All my best, Chris Browne

  14. "Ole" the Horrible
    August 13th, 2005 at 11:41 am [Reply]

    Well Chris, I can see you have no Norskie Blood in you…
    Norway and Iceland flags look alike with reversed colors on a bordered cross.
    Sweden, Denmark and Finland look the same with different colored crosses and backgrounds.
    Say, it’s really no big deal, seeing that none of these countries had a national flag at that time.
    They did have a Viking Banner that was white with a raven on it.
    Please keep up the good work…
    Where can we buy Hagar merchandize?
    I also live in Florida with my wife and too many CATS!

  15. electro
    April 11th, 2008 at 10:47 am [Reply]

    Amazing how much the quality of comments on this site has improved. Big hats off to Josh for sticking with it even when this was all the thanks he got.

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