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Dik Browne; Cartoonist Drew ‘Hagar,’ ‘Hi and Lois’

Dik Browne, the creator of two award-winning comic strips, “Hagar the Horrible” and “Hi and Lois,” has died of cancer at age 71 in Florida.

He died Sunday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, the New York-based King Features Syndicate announced Monday.

King Features, which distributes the Hagar cartoon to more than 1,800 newspapers in 58 countries, said Browne has often been called “the cartoonists’ cartoonist” because he has won more awards from his peers than any other artist-writer.

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He was the only cartoonist ever to receive the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for two different comic strips, winning with both “Hi and Lois” and for “Hagar.”

In 1975, he received the society’s Elzie Segar Award, named after Popeye’s creator, for his “outstanding contribution to the art of cartooning.”

He created Hagar--about a bumbling Viking chieftain beleaguered by his family--in the basement of his home in Connecticut as a way to secure his family’s future and give his two sons a comic strip they could continue. At the time, the early 1970s, he was worried by health and financial problems.

The cartoon, a creation from his childhood memories of Norse legends, grew in popularity and repeatedly scored high in newspaper reader surveys.

Over the years he drew and wrote dozens of books on the wayward Viking.

Browne, born Richard Arthur Alan Browne in Manhattan, started at age 16 as a reporter with the New York Journal. But when an editor complained about his work he transferred to the paper’s art department.

He joined Newsweek in 1941 and after a stint in the Army, where he drew maps and charts for engineers, he worked in advertising, creating the Bird’s Eye bird and the Chiquita Banana. He also was credited with redesigning the famous Campbell Soup kids.

Browne, who suffered from poor eyesight all his life and had to use special glasses and lighting to work, attracted the attention of King Features as co-creator of “The Tracy Twins” for Boys Life magazine. The syndicate was looking for someone to collaborate with Mort Walker, creator of “Beetle Bailey,” on a new strip. They began drawing ‘Hi and Lois” in 1954. The strip continues to appear in more than 1,100 newspapers worldwide.


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