Judging by his sons' description, Dik Browne was, himself, not dissimilar to his Norse creation. He drew Hagar as a large (some may say overweight) character with a bushy beard and what appeared to be a commanding but not dominating personality. Dik Browne was also a large man with a bushy beard and was seemingly not someone it would be easy to miss or ignore. Yet, accounts of his personality don't paint him as an overbearing man.
"In reality, Dik and [his wife] Joan Browne were a witty and loving couple more like Nik and Nora Charles than a couple of bronze age barbarians," say Chris and Chance Browne in their preface.
The appeal of "Hagar the Horrible" as a comic strip may be explained by a combination of factors. Dik Browne went for a bold but minimalist look that combined thick lines with little detail. His drawings also made extensive use of curves; rarely were there jagged lines and corners to be seen. These features together made "Hagar the Horrible" easy on the eye. Somehow Browne also made his characters expressive without needing to alter their appearance much. Hence they were easy to empathize with. The strips were short and snappy, too, with uncomplicated passages of dialogue. This made them a quick read. Despite that approach, though, Dik Browne always managed to be witty and inventive. Above all, perhaps, "Hagar the Horrible" has always had broad appeal. The title is a misnomer because Hagar can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Given the above qualities, it is no surprise that the strip took off like a motorized longboat. When it debuted 37 years ago, "Hagar the Horrible" was syndicated to 200 newspapers. By 1975 that had climbed to 600. By 1976 it was 800. In 1978 it exceeded 1,000 subscribers. Chris Browne took over the legacy of writing "Hagar" in 1989 after his father died from cancer. It is a testament to the work of Chris and his father that that the strip is still fondly regarded (despite the Omaha World-Herald's recent decision to drop it). In its lifetime "Hagar the Horrible" has been syndicated in 58 countries.