Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hagar's Horrible Cameo

When one comic strip character appears in another comic, it can be a lot of fun. Some artists use the cameo to comment on the source strip, some to use the cameo character as a shorthand for the punchline, and sometimes it's just to show that the characters live the world of comics.

The appearance of Hagar the Horrible in Beetle Bailey May 5, 2016, counts as a cameo.

But it was one that disappointed me. 

Having Hagar appear in Beetle Bailey makes a certain amount of sense -- there are strong connections between the strips. Mort Walker created Beetle Bailey, and later co-created Hi and Lois with Dik Browne -- who would create Hagar the Horrible. Beetle Bailey is now primarily in the hands of Greg Walker, Mort's son. Chris Browne inherited Harga from his father. Greg Walker (along with his brother Brian) and Chance Browne (another of Dik's sons) are the current Hi and Lois team. 

OK, given all the connections between the strips, a cameo seems natural. But what do they do with Hagar? Basically nothing. Corporal Yo, as a stand-in for the reader, asks "What's he doing here?" The hilarious response? "He wants to learn new fighting techniques for the Vikings!" 

Really? It's such an unimaginative gag. Hagar's a Viking likes to fight. He comes to an Army base (while traveling centuries into the future) to learn to fight better. The literalness of it all seems flat to me.

I think it would have been better had the creators played more with Hagar's character. For example, a disappointed-looking Hagar stands with sword and sack in hand. Yo asks Sarge "What's his problem?" Sarge responds, "Hagar just found out this is boot camp, not loot camp." 

I admit it's not great. But I still think it's an improvement.

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