Thursday, May 7, 2009

Villainous Heroes of History

Bizarro is brought to you today by Budget Family Cruises.

Like pirates, vikings were ruthless killers, thieves and slave owners. Their main source of income was sailing to another country, killing the men and stealing everything they could find a use for, including their women. And yet, we have made pop culture heroes of them.

In spite of their lack of positive social contribution, I love to do viking cartoons. Drawing their ships, outfits and horny hats is a kick and there is something about infamous amoral hellions that makes for a seemingly never-ending pool of humor.

Viking gags run in my family as I am married to the step-granddaughter of Dik Browne, the creator of Hagar the Horrible, which conveniently also makes her the stepdaughter of his son, Chris Browne, who took over the strip after Dik passed. All told, CHNW is related to five professional cartoonists, including her bio-dad (Ralph Smith, editorial cartoonist and former syndicated dude), an uncle (Chance Browne, Hi and Lois), and me. I'm pretty sure that's the record.


derekamalo said...

hahaah hey dan seriously is that story true...cause i know where the brownes lved or lived wilton,ct as big and nice as there house is it fits in my cousins garage lol..

by the way he told me he spotted chris walken in an antique store also a residnent of wilton ..

wilton rocks!!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, Don't you wonder if she's married you only because you're a cartoonist, Mr. Piraro and Not 'cause you both look cute together? ;)

Wow, I'm sure glad my PC's fine now. Had a breakdown, the poor thing. you know how sentimental today's comps can be. I had to make do with enjoying 'only' your comics every day.

btw, I wish you loads of luck and Prosperity in your fund-raising. Pretty impressed at the various ways people can contribute. I wonder if people are just gonna be contributing only to try those ways;)

TC. As always,

ur Fan,
Dee Sh

Anonymous said...

Methinks you have an old fashioned and outdated view of the Vikings, who as far as I understand, were no more ruthless killers than ancient Romans were or any other ancient warring group of people for that matter...

Oskar said...


You may have some tenuous family relation to someone who drew a viking-cartoon, but that is nothing! I am a descendent of the Vikings myself, and I object to your characterization!

(well, I don't have a thousand-year-old family tree or anything, but as far back as you can trace it, my family is Swedish on both side, and my skin is scarily devoid of melanin, so it's a reasonable assumption. And as a student of Swedish history, I know a little about the subject.)

First off all: no Viking ever ever wore a metal hat with horns on. Complete and total myth. Did not happen. These were generally pretty poor people, as a rule they didn't have anything on their heads.

Second, the whole "the Vikings are scary northern heathens who do nothing but burn down villages and rape women" is pure slander that arose out of the unfair characterizations some monks gave them after they had plundered a monastery or something.

The truth is that the Vikings weren't any worse than anybody else. You have to remember, were talking about the Dark Ages here. Everyone went to war with everyone else and everyone plundered a village or monastery once in a while. The Vikings weren't any worse than the Spaniards, Belgians, Franks, Byzantines, or what have you.

Yes, they occasionally plundered. So what? Who didn't?

What the Vikings really excelled at was trade and seafaring. Never before in the history of the world had there been a people that would travel so far, trade with so many people and go to so many places around the world. And this was a tiny little population, remember. They went to Istanbul and beyond in the east (they called it "MiklagÄrd", which I think is a charming name) and all the way to America ("Wineland", they called it) in the west. They beat Christopher Columbus by half a fucking millenium.

Suck on that, Italians. Vikings rule!

Chriss Pagani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
isee3dtoo said...

CHNW is only related to four cartoonist, just because she married you doesn't mean she is related to you. She may have relations with you but still doesn't mean she is related.

nycowboy said...

Hahaha... CHNW has got a thing doesn't she? Well, She's got several things I guess... Good to know you're part of a Freudian fetish? hehe...

doug nicodemus said...

but they gave us red hair...and i married to one

admittedly somewhere down the line the nazi's will be funny

Anonymous said...

Wow now that's a family, beats the hell out of my kin of angry drunks... but I guess they would of done well as the viking barbarians they once were.

Jimy Maack said...

Uhm... hi. I'm Icelandic and hence of Norse stock. Vikings never wore horned helmets.

Kurt Kaletka said...

Wow... I'd always heard that Hagar was supposed to be sort of a caricature of Dik Browne himself. If that's true, then Chris looks a lot like his father!

Is it true, Dan? I imagine you'd know.

Piraro said...

@ derekmalo...Yes, it's true. They were originally from Connecticut but lived in Sarasota when CHNW was a kid.

@ all the viking comments...Yes, the historical facts pointed out by these comments is true and my blog is an unfair exaggeration of common stereotypes. But it made for a funny blog post and I try not to encourage people to site this blog in their research. :) I've visited Scandanavia several times and it's one of my favorite places in the world. it again carefully, she was/is the step-granddaughter and stepdaughter of Dik and Chris Browne.

@isee3dtoo...she's only related by blood to one cartoonist, her bio-dad. The rest are by marriage, including me.

@ Kurt Kuletka...Yes, Hagar was a caricature of Dik (see link to Dik's name, that's him seated) and his son, Chris, is the spit and image of him.

Karl said...

Is there a possibility that being married to a cartoonist and related to several, explain the "C" word, when referring to your better half (CHNW)? If so, do cartoonists have this harmful effect on anyone close to them :-)?

Waldo said...


"Yes, they occasionally plundered. So what? Who didn't?"

So I can water board the local teenager for information because of some random neighborhood hooliganism? (Teenager logic 101: everyone is doing it so it must be ok..) Cool!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am 1/4 Norwegian (Texan) married to a 1/2 Swede (Brit) and WE wore Horned hats when we used to go helling around the Texas hill country in my sport pickup truck: I knitted the hats myself. (You knit a pointy four panel cap in metalic grey and then knit little cones in bone-color, which you stuff with spare yarn and then sew on the sides of the cap.) I took up knitting just so I could make us Viking hats.

Historic Vikings wore Norman (="northman", duh) helmets like on the Bayeux tapestry (like small "coneheads") --but MODERN Viking bubbas like us'ens in Texas wear LONGHORN helmets. The Bayeux tapestry was the first European "graphic historical work" done by bad artists with a lamentable color sense.

Suggestion: I think it would be fun to do non-mediaeval cartoons in the Bayeux tapestry style and colors-- such as cowboys and indians and cattle rustlers and gunfighters and saloon-girls--or maybe the daily cutthroat financial melee of the New York stock exchange. Any way, real vikings often suffer (well not really, its more of an annoyance if you are a gituarist) from a permanently crooked little finger--medically known as Duputryn's Contracture--which is why the English descendants of vikings who settled in the Danelaw regions of the UK often drink their tea with a crooked little finger (not!)

Hey, Dan: Why not a many-yards-long wall-paper border in the Bayeux style, to paste where a wall meets the ceiling? It would look really elegant and historic until you look closely and maybe recognize a depiction of Watergate & the impeachment of Richard Nixon, etc.