Synopses & Reviews
A new collection by the web sensation and New Yorker cartoonist
Hark! A Vagrant takes readers on a romp through history and literature& with dignity for few and cookies for all — with comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, all drawn in Kate Beaton's pared-down, excitable style. This collection features favorite stories as well as new, previously unpublished content. Whether shes writing about Nikola Tesla, Napoleon, or Nancy Drew, Beaton brings a refined sense of the absurd to every situation.
In just four years, Beaton has taken the comics world by storm with her non sequiturs, cheeky comebacks, and irreverent punchlines. With 1.2 million monthly hits on her site — 500,000 of them unique — and comics appearing in Harpers Magazine, the National Post, and The New Yorker, her caricatures of historical and fictional figures filtered through a contemporary lens display a sharp, quick wit that knows no bounds.
"Recent comics sensation Beaton probably, definitely, knows more about history and literature than the average reader, and this collection of her webcomic mostly collections of three-panel gag shows it. But while her comics are pungent with the aroma of authentic knowledge, they wear it lightly, with a jittery humor that's surprisingly effective given the lashings of irony that Beaton layers on top. While she's perfectly content to base her cartoon strips around lesser-known figures (criminal 'masterminds' Burke and Hare, anyone?), most of her cartoons put people like the BrontÃ« sisters or Jules Verne out there and wryly undercut them with mock pulp headlines and dishy asides. While the focus in Beaton's rip-quick and squiggly drawings is getting a good joke out of, say, the death of French general Montcalm or playing to the world's ignorance of even the most basic facets of Canadian history and culture, she also drops in some sharp literary criticism. If she had pushed her faux naÃ¯f outrageousness any further, Beaton might have ventured too far into Sarah Vowellesque flipness. But this is that rarest combination of literate irony and devastatingly funny humor when was the last time you read a comic strip collection that not only has but needs an index?" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"[Beaton's comics] are witty reinventions of literary and historical figures navigating modern times....A high-minded version of The Far Side that is at once of-the-moment and timeless." Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times
"Simply put, this is the most well-drawn, funniest comic that I've read in a while." Adrienne So, Wired
"[Beaton's] neat line work and terrific grasp of simple caricature and facial expression sells a lot of the best strips, including Sasaki Kojiro meeting an undignified end, Jane Austen and Nikola Tesla being pestered by their fans, and Lord Byron muttering 'Bitches, man' to a grieving Percy Bysshe Shelley. A-" The Onion, The A.V. Club
FEATURED ON MORE THAN TWENTY BEST-OF LISTS, INCLUDING TIME, AMAZON, E AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Hark A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscathed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world's revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.
She deftly points out what really happened when Brahms fell asleep listening to Liszt, that the world's first hipsters were obviously the Incroyables and the Merveilleuses from eighteenth-century France, that Susan B. Anthony is, of course, a "Samantha," and that the polite banality of Canadian culture never gets old. Hark A Vagrant features sexy Batman, the true stories behind classic Nancy Drew covers, and Queen Elizabeth doing the albatross. As the 500,000 unique monthly visitors to harkavagrant.com already know, no one turns the ironic absurdities of history and literature into comedic fodder as hilariously as Beaton.
About the Author
KATE BEATON grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. She earned a bachelors degree in history and anthropology at Mount Allison University. She presently resides in Brooklyn, New York.