Dik Browne

Dik Browne


Richard Arthur Browne was an American cartoonist best remembered as the creator of the newspaper gag comic Hägar the Horrible about a Viking chief, his crew, and his family. Browne is also known as the original illustrator of Hi and Lois, a family gag strip scripted by Mort Walker. Both became some of the world’s longest-running, widest distributed and most beloved newspaper comic features. [credit: https://www.lambiek.net/artists/b/browne.htm]

Born in New York City in 1917, Browne grew up inspired by figures like Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain, absorbing their influences on comedy and the human condition. He admired several graphic artists, including Arnold Roth and Ed Wheelan. Browne briefly studied at the Cooper Union Art School but left to join the New York American as a copyboy, eventually becoming a courtroom sketch artist.

During his early cartooning career, Browne created ‘Muttle the Gonif,’ a strip about a Jewish refugee boy inspired by Sholem Alachem’s novels. He also contributed to Newsweek with map drawings during World War II and created the ‘Ginny Jeep’ comic for army newspapers.

Post-World War II, Browne joined the advertising agency Johnstone & Cushing, where he created numerous promotional illustrations. His work during this period included designs for iconic brands and several gag comics, like ‘The Trouble Twins’ for Vaseline.

At Boys’ Life magazine, Browne collaborated with Al Stenzel to create ‘The Tracy Twins,’ a series about twin Boy Scouts that ran for several years. Despite some challenges, including a broken arm and surgery complications, Browne continued his contributions to the series until 1970.

Browne’s work on The Tracy Twins caught the attention of Mort Walker, leading to the creation of Hi and Lois, a spin-off of Walker’s Beetle Bailey. The comic strip, featuring the life of Hi Flagstone and his family, gained popularity for its relatable and light-hearted humor.

Hägar the Horrible, Browne’s most famous creation, debuted in 1973. The strip humorously depicted the life of a Viking captain named Hägar, known for his misadventures and family life. Despite its historical setting, the series often featured anachronistic elements and became known for its distinctive artistic style.

Browne’s work earned him multiple awards, including the National Cartoonists Society’s “Best Humor Strip” award and the Reuben Award. Despite facing personal challenges, including health issues in his later years, Browne continued to work with the help of assistants and his family.

After his passing in 1989, Browne’s legacy lives on through his sons, who continue his comic series, and through the influence he had on future generations of cartoonists worldwide. His work remains a significant part of the cartooning landscape, remembered for its humor, charm, and distinctive style.