Why Me Why Not: who is Hagar the Horrible, and why is the cartoon strip on President Joe Biden's desk?
As President Joe Biden gets settled into the White House, he’ll be looking to make some aestetchic changes to his new residence for at least the next four years.
Tweeting from the newly transferred @POTUS Twitter account, Joe BIden said he was “heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families,” just hours after being sworn in as President of the United States.
But alongside a raft of executive orders designed to reverse a number of damaging policies brought in by the previous administration, Biden made some bold decisions on the decor.
According to The Guardian, Biden has made many “cosmetic changes, including different rugs, curtains and wallpaper,” and has switched out many paintings and busts of notable people from history, to signal the direction in which he wishes to take the country forward.
But will Biden’s famed Hägar the Horrible cartoon strip be making its way to the Oval Office’s ‘Resolute Desk’?
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is the cartoon strip?
The cartoon strip was first made public while Biden was on the campaign trail in 2020.
It appeared in a publicity photo used to announce Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate and eventual Vice President, which showed the then presidential hopeful delivering Harris the news over a Zoom call.
The cartoon – first printed in March 1986 – depicts Hägar the Horrible weathering a ferocious storm in a boat. He shouts towards the sky, “Why me?” and God replies, “Why not?”
Who is Hägar the Horrible?
Hägar the Horrible is the title character of a comic strip created by award-winning American cartoonist Dik Browne.
The strip – which depicts modern American life through the day-to-day actions of a scruffy, overweight, red-bearded Viking – was first published in February 1973.
It was an immediate success, spawning its own line of branded soft drinks, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, and even a CGI animated series produced by The Jim Henson Company, which is still in the pipeline.
Browne took the name from his own nickname given to him by his two sons, and when he unfortunately died of cancer in 1989, his son Chris continued producing his father's comic strip.
Why is it on Joe Biden’s desk?
The 46th President of the United States has a framed extract from the comic strip on his Desk, because of its “valuable message”.
Biden said that the cartoon was given to him by his father in the early 70s, shortly after a car crash in which his first wife was killed along with his infant daughter. His two young sons Hunter and Beau were also in the car.
"[My father] could sense I was beginning to lose my faith for the first time in my life,” he said. “But he wasn’t going to let that happen to me. So, he went to one of those Hallmark card stores and bought a rectangular frame with this cartoon in it.”
"I didn’t fully appreciate the cartoon’s message at the time,” added Biden, “but it’s become such a valuable one to me, especially after Beau died.”
“My dad was always saying to us when we were down about something, ‘Where is it written that the world owes you a living, pal? Get up.’ This cartoon was his way of saying there is no way to rationalise what has taken place. It can happen to anyone, at any time.”
The strip does not appear to have been pictured on the President’s new desk just yet, at least not in the Oval Office. It could be that Biden is keeping the comic strip for a more personal, less-forward facing setting.