Hagar the Horrible by Chris Browne
'Hägar the Horrible' (2 February 1997).

Chris Browne was an American cartoonist, who between 1988 and his 2023 death was in charge of continuing his father Dik Browne's signature newspaper comic, 'Hägar the Horrible'. In addition, he created two more short-lived semi-autobiographical family comics of his own, 'Chris Browne's Comic Strip' (1993-1994) and 'Raising Duncan' (2000-2004). 

Family background and career
Chris Browne was born in 1952 in South Orange, New Jersey, but spent most of his childhood in suburban Wilton, Connecticut. His father was the newspaper cartoonist Dik Browne, and his brother Chance Browne later also worked in the cartooning industry. In addition, his aunt Annette T. Rubenstein, worked as a scriptwriter for the Classics Illustrated comic book line. Later in life, Chris' stepdaughter Ashley Browne was the daughter of cartoonist Ralph Smith, best-known for 'The Grizzwells' and 'Through Thick and Thin'. Ashley later married Dan Piraro, author of the 'Bizarro' cartoon feature (1985). 

Apart from his father, Chris Browne ranked Charles M. Schulz and Lynn Johnston among his favorite cartoonists. He started out making magazine cartoons for National Lampoon, Hugh Hefner's Playboy, Esquire, Heavy Metal and The New Yorker, and he was also a contributing editor to Sarasota Magazine. During his early phase of his career, he deliberately didn't emphasize that he was the son of Dik Browne, so that his cartoons and comics could be judged on their own terms. 

Hagar, by Chris Browne
'Hägar the Horrible' (20 January 2015).

Hägar the Horrible
Although Chance Browne was Dik Browne's oldest son, he first worked as a painter and graphic artist before joining the family business. Chris, on the other hand, was already actively involved with his father's newspaper comics early on. When Dik Browne launched his signature comic 'Hägar the Horrible' in 1973, Chris was co-gag writer, along with Ralston Jones. The selection for a week's worth of strips eventually became a full-blown family affair, in which his brother Chance, sister Sally and mother Joan also participated. The 'Hägar' strip is distributed by King Features Syndicate to 45 countries into 13 languages. A fan favorite for several decades, the obese Viking continues to roam the seas to pillage castles, villages and other ships, even though he fails to impress his victims. And even if one could call his quests adventurous, his family life is not. He frequently argues with his wife Helga. His son Hamlet is a book wurm who doesn't like fighting, much to his frustration, while his teenage daughter Honi is oogled by far too many men he dislikes. Even his dog Snert is disobedient.

Chris Browne also worked with his father on 'Hägar the Horrible's Very Nearly Complete Viking Handbook' (1985), and helped out with his dad's other comic series 'Hi and Lois'. When in the 1980s Dik Browne's eyesight deteriorated, Chris and Dik Browne's assistant Dick Hodgins, Jr. took over most of the production. In 1988, Dik Browne retired completely and died a year later. Since April 1990, Chris Browne has been credited as the author of 'Hägar the Horrible'. Around the same period, his brother Chance took over 'Hi and Lois', leaving their father's legacy within the family. When on 30 August 2002 the Washington Post interviewed Christ Browne, the cartoonist revealed that he never felt like someone who merely "continued" 'Hägar'. After all, he had been a co-writer and co-artist from the very beginning. In his view, he was one of the original authors. Under his lead, 'Hägar' didn't change much in terms of comedy and cast members. But Chris did tone down the viking's alcohol consumption and womanizing, since he felt "a certain responsibility" towards his younger readers. 

Working with artist Gary Hallgren since 2015, Chris Browne was in charge of creating the 'Hägar the Horrible' strip until his death in early 2023. 

Raising Duncan by Chris Browne
'Raising Duncan' (20 November 2000).

Chris Browne's Comic Strip
From November 1993 until July 1994, Chris Browne drew an autobiographical comic strip, titled 'Chris Browne's Comic Strip', syndicated by Universal Press. As the artist described it himself: "The past two decades of my life have been full of artistic, emotional and especially romantic struggle. But while I was looking for love in all the wrong places, true love was looking for me. This comic strip is a sort of mythic retelling of my personal odyssey."

Raising Duncan
Between July 2000 and December 2004, Chris Browne launched another solo comic strip with autobiographical undertones through United Feature Syndicate, 'Raising Duncan'. His direct motivation was the amount of "cynical and coarse present-day newspaper comics". He wanted to make a family comic with "love and acceptance" as its major themes. 'Raising Duncan' revolves around a couple, Big Daddy and his wife Adelle, who both work as writers. They adopt a black Scottish terrier called Duncan, and try to raise him into a decent dog, hence the title. However, Duncan is often quite a handful and the family cat Brambley doesn't always get along with him. In real life, Chris and his wife also owned several pets, including two Scottish terriers, a chihuahua and three cats. Originally, he wanted to name the dog in his comic strip after his own dog, MacGruff, but there were already several fictional dogs with that name, so he settled on Duncan instead. Between 2 December to 25 December 2002 Browne, made the seasonal spin-off 'Duncan's First Christmas'.

Duncan, by Chris Browne
'Raising Duncan'.

Other activities
Besides cartooning, Chris Browne was also active as a painter, sculptor, illustrator and author, working from his Bunny Hill Studio in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His illustrated children's book 'The Monster Who Ate The State' was published by South Dakota State Historical Society Press in 2015. It stars a prehistoric dinosaur with a huge appetite, called Soozy, who encounters many South Dakota landmarks on her travels. In 2015, Chris Browne was one of many artists who paid graphic tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

On 5 February 2023, Chris Browne died after a long illness, coincidentally one day after the 50th anniversary of his 'Hägar the Horrible' strip. Chris Browne was 70 years old. 

'The Monster Who Ate The State'.


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