Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Saga of,, Whatever...

I just can't stay away from the Hagar the Horrible Sunday funnies. They are really so beautifully archaic that it is only possible to appreciate them if you have a deep, complex understanding of medieval theological thought. Otherwise, they are incredibly stupid. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Below, we see Hagar clinging to a tiny rock as a storm rages around him and his boat (with his crew on it?) sinks in the distance. After a bit of exposition ("Here I am...after having sunk the boat you can see sinking behind me...caught in a storm that you are perfectly capable of discerning yourself, what with all the lightning bolts and all...not that they are really behaving much like actual lightning bolts, as they seem to be hitting the water, and I am in the water, and yet I am somehow not dead yet...anyway, here I am, and I shall tell you all about it, despite the fact that a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words...but I don't trust the rather clear and obvious picture of which I happen to be a part to get across the gravity of my listen to me as I expound unnecessarily upon it!"), Hagar cries out to his maker: "What have I done to deserve all this?" Unexpectedly, his maker replies.

Hagar's conversation with a vengeful God could associate him with any number of traditions. As a Danish barbarian,* he may, in fact, be conversing with a pagan deity; it would certainly explain the fallibility.** However, it is possible that Hagar and Helga are, in fact, converts, in which case Hagar may be talking to the Big Panjandrum himself. Perhaps he is playing out a medieval version of the story of Job. Perhaps he is participating in an amazingly bold attempt by heretical cartoonists to question God's omniscience. Perhaps he is simply demonstrating that life is not fair and that God is not interested in making it so.

At any rate, the comic certainly acts as a beautiful comment on the concept of adversity during this life as a punishment for one's sins...though, simultaneously, it undermines this concept with the irony of God's "mistake." Oh, Hagar. How tangled is your allegory! How lovely is your song!

P.S.: I still can't find a good translation for "oops" I used my discretion and changed stuff around just a tad. "Ha ha" is a genuine Middle English interjection, by the way. When I use it instead of "LOL," I can claim that I have a lot of tradition behind me.

*Okay...seriously...I don't know where Hagar is from. He sometimes seems to be Norwegian and sometimes Danish. Maybe he's both. I don't know! I wash my hands of Hagar's nationality and will from here on in translate "Viking" however the hell I want.
**According to the monks, that is. They would doubtless explain that Hagar's god was actually a demon and that Hagar was damned. Then they would high-five each other and go on to write about saintly maidens being devoured by dragons and causing the dragons to explode.***
***Saint Margaret of Antioch did this. No, really.


dmontag said...

Um, in this very comic, Hagar tells us that he is from Denmark.

Angry Kem said...

Um, I know. However, the comic is based on a play about Norwegians, and I'm not entirely certain I don't remember previous comics that imply Hagar is from Norway (I could, however, simply be hallucinating these). The footnote is there mostly because in my last Hagar effort, I made an educated guess at Hagar's nationality and translated "Viking" as "Norwegian."

dmontag said...

Maybe he was born in Denmark, but now lives in Norway?

Angry Kem said...

Or the opposite, perhaps? It is possible that we shall never know. It is also possible that by spending time thinking about it, we are proving that we would really do absolutely anything rather than work.