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The Hodag

What in the world is a Hodag? 

The hodag is a fictional monster said to be lumberjack lore from the near turn of the century in Northern Wisconsin. The hodag was made 'famous' by a lumber scout in the late 1800's named Gene Shepard.

Gene Shepard was a major booster of Rhinelander,WI, a small Northern Wisconsin town, as it was becoming established and he was known for his sense of humor. Gene pulled a magnificent hodag centered prank on the locals and is the reason the official Rhinelander, WI mascot is in fact, a hodag.

Who is Happy the Hodag?

There are many different depictions of hodags in Rhinelander, WI. When Rhinelander native Jill Kuczmarski, the creator of Happy the Hodag, was growing up all of these hodags were shown to be mean and scary. She decided to add a new kind of hodag to the landscape and in 2006 created Happy the Hodag to be a friendly hodag. Is he the most lovable hodag known to man? We think so ;)

Crafted to exhibit traditional hodag characteristics but in a more accessible style for children, Happy the Hodag starred in his first children's book, Tales From The Trees which is full color, fun, rhyming introduction to the hodag legend for children.

Happy the Hodag's second book, A Monster Misunderstanding, debuted in 2007 and is a suspenseful and fun picture book exploring how a hodag came to be friends with a bulldog...because everyone knows hodags EAT bulldogs—but only once a month and only on a Sunday.

Happy the Hodag

HODAG is the third Happy the Hodag book, released in May of 2016 for Happy's 10th birthday. A celebration of the hodags among us, the hodag spirit within us and a deep love for the Northwoods; HODAG is a full-color, double-story, rhyming picture book dedicated to hodags everywhere.

A departure from author, illustrator and Rhinelander, WI native Jill Kuczmarski’s two previous Happy the Hodag books, HODAG is a book of short affirmations and encouragement. Nine new hodag characters and fun illustrations accompany the strong, overarching message to go outside and play.

Watch the book trailer!

HODAG : A Happy the Hodag Book from Jill Kuczmarski on Vimeo.

Keep up with Happy the Hodag at:


"...the books... offer the message of understanding and breaking stereotypes in a colorful way children will understand and enjoy."

"Tales from the Trees is a fun rhythmic book with great illustrations. The pages are durable and made for little hands. A fast favorite."  -Dr. Tami Brady , "Whole Health Therapist"

"A Monster Misunderstanding reminds us all that appearances can be deceiving. In order to have a friend we have to be willing to be a friend."  -TCM Reviews

HODAG is a Happy the Hodag Shop by Studio JKD.

Studio JKD is basically just Jill Kuczmarski, and she enjoys creating things. To date, her favorite creation is Happy the Hodag and Buddy the Bulldog. Jill is an Creative Director living in Minneapolis, MN who was born and raised (and still pays taxes and plays) in hodag country. LEARN MORE




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