Herman Hedning ("Herman the Heathen") is a long-running Swedish comic book series written and drawn by Jonas Darnell. It chronicles the strange adventures of the eponymous character—a fat, drunken, uncouth caveman of a vile disposition—and his "friends": the genius inventor Gammelman (literally "Old Man") and the kind-hearted but stupid Lilleman ("Little Man"), Herman's favorite bullying victim.
The trio are all living in "the creation", an alternate world resembling ours, in an undetermined period of time resembling some sort of Prehistory. Sharing this world with them are talking Dinosaurs, Giants, Prehistoric Warrior Cockroaches, various breeds of Space Aliens, Dr. Mengele, Satan, the physical incarnation of the Apocalypse, Hyper-intelligent monkeys, and God.
In short, it's that kind of series.
The first few issues of Herman Hedning were published in 1988 in the Swedish edition of The Phantom and proved to be a huge success. In 1998, Herman Hedning got his own anthology magazine, which has been going strong for 17 years now. A few episodes can be read in English for free on the official Herman Hedning homepage.
A 20-year old legacy was brought to an end in 2018, when Jonas Darnell anunced that his publisher had dropped him. He still wants to make more Herman Hedning, so don't expect an end to the comic just yet. Sure enough, a kickstarter campaign was for the funding of a Herman-only publishing company was launched and publishing resumed, barely even missing a beat.
This comic book series provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: The only two currently existing normal humans, not counting their children Cain And Abel, who, due to some odd genetic damage caused by Herman's presence in the area, were born looking like him.
- The Alcoholic: Herman, his dinosaur buddy Ragnar, and the Giants.
- Anachronism Stew: The comic's raison d'etre.
- Author Appeal: Jonas Darnell loves drawing elaborate monsters, weapons and vehicles, so he does. Frequently. Sometimes he likes to combine them.
- Aliens Are Bastards: Most alien races that appear in the series aren't exactly pleasant, but the Salesmen Aliens, recurring villains, really take the cake. They are essentially a nomadic race of scam artists who excel at various business ventures that is sure to bring profit to them at the expense of absolutely everyone else.
- Arch-Enemy: Herman doesn't exactly endear himself to anyone, but he has an especially adversarial relationship with Satan, The Prehistoric Cockroaches, the Salesmen Aliens and the Monkeys.
- BFG: A lot of these show up.
- Cephalothorax: Herman, Lilleman, Gammelman and the Monkeys.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: There are at least a dozen or so creation deities around, and even more lesser divine beings, and all of them are trying to keep track of their aspects of creation by hand.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: "Nefus Krister" the Messianic son of the creator, born to Monkey parents. The Creator intended to sacrifice him as a lesson in goodness to humanity and was very upset when Nefus actually survived. Has been Put on a Bus as of late.
- Create Your Own Villain: One strip reveals that Herman actually CREATED Satan when he accidentally burned off his angel wings, and God forced him to take up the role as the boss of Hell, rather than letting him back into Heaven.
- Cultural Posturing: The Monkeys are fond of this.
- Cool, but Inefficient: Nearly all weapons shown are this. A battleaxe with a flail attached to it is a classic example, as well as Herman's Sniper Scope Minigun(!)
- Dumb Muscle: The Giants, who were created simply so God (or "the creator", as he is called in Herman Hedning) would have cheap labour to build the world with. Their "salaries" consisted of a "legally guaranteed cheese roll and a pat on the shoulder". After finishing their task, they became unemployed and spent all their time drinking bad homebrewed beer, fighting and wearing silly T-shirts. With time, a hierarchy rose out of this as the giant with the silliest T-shirt was hailed by the others as king and given a crown made of gold paper they think came from the Gods (it actually fell off the back of a truck). The current one is this guy.◊
- Death Is Cheap: Darnell has said that creating The Holy Laptop was the greatest thing that ever happened to the comic since now he can basically obliterate the entire universe and kill of every character if he wants to without any consequences whatsoever. It remains to be seen how this will effect any attempts to end the comic. Luckily Darnell has promised to keep drawing it "until he explodes".
- Deathbringer the Adorable: The "Fhrenno-Hooligans" who are pink fluffy space aliens, widely feared for their power of... kitschy cosmic interior decoration! Oh, and they travel around the universe in a huge battleship in the shape of a skull with crossbones holding a battleaxe.
- Deus ex Machina: "The Holy Laptop"
- The Devil Is a Loser: "Lucifer Satansson" started out as a moderately dignified villain. Now he is perhaps the biggest most pathetic Butt-Monkey loser of the whole cast and that's saying something since everyone is a Butt-Monkey to some degree in Herman Hedning. Low points include stealing Gammelman's ultra-magnetic ring just to be a Jerkass, which not only ended with him being bombarded by cutlery and steel junk but losing his ring finger to chemical corrosion too. Another time Herman called health inspection on him after he had found out that the only reason the Devil could tolerate living in hell was because of his suit, which was insulated with pure asbestos. He did give him another one though - and noted that the Devil probably wont be quite as happy when he finds out that it's made of wool.
- Extreme Omnivore: Herman can and will eat anything if given the chance.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The dinosaurs are still around, though on their way out, having lost most of their dominance to the mammals. Most notable is Ragnar, a large, blue dinosaur who is Herman's drinking buddy.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Though not if you ask Herman. Currently the most advanced species on Earth, with humanity still in its early stages.
- Eye-Obscuring Hat: Herman all the time. One strip revolved around the Author trying to force him to remove the helmet, which resulted in several fakeouts. First what looked like a censorship blur (actually a horde of flies infesting Herman's hair), then a cluster of eyes that turned out to be frog eggs Herman was saving as a snack. Finally, Herman got fed up and seemingly revealed a pair of angry, bloodshot eyes just to get the Author off his back, only to leave behind a pair of eyeglasses as he leaves.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Loads and loads of monsters of different persuasions make an appearance.
- Family-Unfriendly Violence: All the damn time.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Ditto.
- From Beyond the Fourth Wall: Happens frequently. In the episode "Matrizk" the boys manages to enter "the real world" by gradually phasing out everything that makes them Comic Book characters: colours, lines and speech bubbles until all that is left is pure blackness. Upon entering the real world Lilleman is run over and killed by angry Street Samurai who proceed to chase Herman and Gammelman until they happen upon Jonas Darnell who explains to them that even this is a fictitious dreamworld and that they can never be anything but Comic Book Characters. He proceeds to revive Lilleman from a Pizzabox and then sends them back to their own world with no memories of the incident - except that now Herman has a craving for Pizza whenever he looks at Lilleman!
- Fun with Acronyms: The Magazine includes a section called the "homepages" where Darnell writes articles about various things in a not especially serious way. One such article concerned how "the latest research" had proven that the Vikings were the ones to invent Cell Phone technology and that T.E.L.E.N.O.R was an acronym that stood for "Death to Snorri Sturluson the lying bastard". Darnell added that "the Vikings weren't especially talented linguists but they compensated for that by being pretty damn aggressive."
- Go into the Light: One time Herman decided that he wanted to "try" dying, since had heard that dead people got to go into a tunnel where they were greeted by a warm embrace and a shining light. The Creator said that Herman had heard correctly, but the warm embrace at the end of the tunnel was not light. Cue, Herman being brought out into space and dropped into an enormous Toilet.
- God Is Flawed: And He knows it. He's kind of senile, but he tries his best, and generally keeps things together somewhat, even if his designs don't always work out.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: After Lilleman is run over by a group of Street Samurai, Herman screams "That's my job! I'll kill you" and charges them.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Herman cannot visit a charity fundraiser for endagered species because he has to "go and take a shit or something!"
- Meaningful Name: Herman is simply a common Swedish name, but Gammelman means "Old Man" and Lilleman means "Little Man" as in "Humble Man".
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Herman ends up on the Ship of an Alien Invasion force he finds out that the Aliens are all actually big softies who are living in fear of their leader "Lord Coctmebreau" (a talking hotdog, the name is a pun for "en kokt med bröd" (steamed hot dog in a roll)) who is forcing them to be vegetarians, which he enforces with his ability to squirt mustard, which apparently every single species except mankind are deadly allergic to. Herman being Herman, naturally eats Lord Coctmebreau, declares himself the new leader and tells the Aliens that he has liberated them and that from now on they will only eat meat. Cue, the Aliens looking thru the space ship window towards Earth and saying that yes, from now on they will only eat meat! Herman thus asks himself why, in spite of just having liberated thousands of oppressed souls, he feels like he has done something phenomenally stupid?
- Fortunately he averts the carnage by then convincing them that every Earth animal contains lethal doses of mustard... with the exception of the monkeys. Cue Monkey Season.
- The Maker: The Creator.
- Playing Both Sides: Herman manages to start a Civil War among the Giants, by making and selling pirated copies of the reigning kings T-Shirt. He later brokers peace, however by helping the Giants introduce a new system of Government: He with the stupidest Baseball Cap will be King!
- The Pig-Pen: Herman claims that Soap will "dissolve him". He has been seen bathing once though... in a bathtub full of meat. Even his sweat is so toxic that when he was forced to run around for an extended period of time, the resulting ecological damage made several weaker species extinct, and gave several others permanent genetic damage.
- A few strips has him take a yearly bath, which is a serious blow to the ecosystem.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Prehistoric Cockroaches and the Gorillas.
- Proud Scholar Race Guy: The Monkeys.
- Reference Overdosed
- Refuge in Audacity: This comic relishes so much in it's own insanity and vulgarity that it still gets away with everything it does.
- Rule of Cool
- Rule of Funny
- Sadist Show
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Pretty Cynical. Herman is a fat, stupid and violent Jerkass. Gammelman might be a genius, but he has a massive ego. Finally there's Lilleman, a naive Woobie who can be just as much of a Jerkass as Herman. The trio is pretty much incapable of ushering in any relevant change and development in the creation that doesn't backfire horribly, and it's up to the creator to reboot the world from scratch. As for the creator himself, if you cant say anything nice...
- Tin Tyrant: The Apocalypse.
- Too Dumb to Fool: One time Herman was Shipwrecked on the Bengali coast (sound familiar?) where he was discovered by monkeys and taken to the "Cave of the Morons". The cave had the peculiar habit of crushing anyone whose IQ exceeded 30 to death. Herman passed it with flying colours.Monkey no 1: "But that means he's.. he's..."
Monkey no 2: "A complete and utter retard? Yes, he's the man we've been looking for!"
- Toilet Humor: There was that time when Herman managed to turn the entire world into feces... or when the creator drowned hell in boiling snot. Or when a drunken Herman's vomit came to life and went on a rampage. Suffice to say, the comic is full of this, sometimes crossing into pure Nausea Fuel.
- Trademark Favorite Food: As noted earlier, he is not very picky, but if he had to choose Herman prefers pure lard. And beer.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The Devil and The Apocalypse constantly have their hopes and dreams snatched away. Not that they don't deserve it.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: In the setting, Gods are created when a person believes in them enough, and this works retroactively. Once enough people belive in them, they will suddenly always have existed. Infant Gods appear in the Olympus Daycare according to the comics version of the Christian God, and he himself says he doesn't know who thought him up, just that he did.
- You Won't Feel a Thing!: When Herman is being lobotomized by an Alien Killer Droid:"Stand still now and you wont feel a thing. Well then again, if you have a working nervous system it's gonna hurt like a son of a bitch!"
- Women Are Wiser: In the prologue to one of the collected editions where the creation of Herman's world is described, the narrator talks about how God created Adam. God soon realized that his creation didn't have the sense to last long on his own, and created a mate for him, Eve. In the actual comic, the two aren't particularly different, common-sense wise anyway.
- World of Snark