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November 2, 2007

Is Hagar the Horrible actually a woman?

I've written in the past about Professor Binns, my aging, possibly dead history professor. Every once in a while, though, he'll sneak in some ridiculous tidbit in the middle of his dull drone about [subject deleted] history. Here's an actual example:

Professor Binns: ...Epiphanius Hagarism Mu'awiya Constans II Iconoclasm Pseudo-Methodius Armenia Maghrib Epiphanius Sebeos Iconoclasm...I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH HUNTER S. THOMPSON; HE HAD A GANG CALLED "THE WRECKERS." ...IconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasm IconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasmIconoclasm....
You have to listen carefully or you'll miss it, like two ships passing in the night. But, boy, is it rewarding. Why am I discussing this? Today, the discussion turned to the stereotype of Arabs as "children of Ishmael." In turn that led to an explanation--Ishmael was the illegitimate son of Abraham via Hagar and therefore half-brother of the not-sacrificed Isaac.Now, regular readers of this blog know that I am an avid fan of the comic strip "Hagar the Horrible." He's just so consistent--and a historical figure at that! It makes me feel cultured... But is Hagar really all he appears to be? Being the one-time honey dip of Abraham commands a certain degree of fame and as such Hagar is too identifiable a name to just be a coincidence. Surely the creator of the strip knew what he was doing when he named his viking "Hagar." Although Hagar is married, his relationship with Helga is tenuous at best. And while it's true that he does have thick red beard, should that really disqualify "him"?