By Kate Beaton. Published in the UK by Jonathan Cape. Originally published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Softcover, 160 pages, B&W, 2011.
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 Yorkercartoonist 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.
Praise for Hark! A Vagrant
Beaton’s determined absurdities are, ironically enough, much-needed cerebral antidotes to the common-denominator comedy and drama now dominating mature comics and animation.Wired
Hark! A Vagrant is the wittiest book of the year.Time, Top 10 Fiction Books of 2011
Kate Beaton [is] a Canadian history graduate who has turned her hand to drawing hilarious comic strips about history and literature [...] funny, clever, and sneakily instructive along the way.The Times UK
Kate Beaton makes comics about the Bröntes, Canadians, fat ponies, the X-Men, Hamlet, the American founding fathers, Raskolnikov, gay Batman, Nikola Tesla, Les Misérables, Nancy Drew, Greek myths, and hipsters throughout history. Little is spared her lively pen and waggish, incisive wit.The Paris Review
Beaton’s artwork is deceptively simple. Backgrounds are often very lightly sketched in, while the focus is on the main characters. And she’s adroit at creating character through expression [...] Witty, occasionally wise, sometimes surreal, at other times silly, mocking of past, present and pretense, Hark! A Vagrant is one of the most innovative and delightful collections I’ve come across.Globe and Mail
Ms Beaton has a wonderfully evocative way of making these characters grimace, faint and lust after each other; a raised eyebrow serves as an efficient punchline. Given the many historical and literary in-jokes, it can feel as though Beaton is working through an academic reading list. But the results are so consistently charming that it would be churlish to criticise the formula.The Economist
Dear God, is this woman funny [...] Beaton's comic timing is like free jazz, in that you never know quite how the jokes will land; every one leaves you thinking 'How the hell did she do that?'Rolling Stone
Hark! A Vagrant found an audience first as a Web comic read by 500,000 people every month. The strip is a series of short gag cartoons, primarily about history and literature [...] Beaton’s appeal lies in the combination of her scribbly style and contemporary dialogue [...] Beaton’s comics are like doodles passed by your best friend in history class: familiar, friendly, funny. Yet each is infused with a genuine passion and knowledge of the subject matter.Quill & Quire
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 [...] this is that rarest combination of literate irony and devastatingly funny humor.Publishers Weekly
Even in her unadorned sketchbook material, Beaton’s svelte, unfussy line evokes historical eras with a handful of elements. She’s adopted thicker markers and textural ink washes in recent years without compromising its appealing looseness. But a mastery of the human face may be most integral to her style of comedy [...] In their rapid pace and conversational cadence, many strips here share the rhythms of improvisational comedy.National Post
The collection reveals Beaton's flair for marrying dry historical facts of varying arcanity with cheap, childish gags in a way that never seems to get old [...] Beaton's new book gives a sense of a child caught up in her own world, excitedly grabbing things she's found and showing them to the reader.Maisonneuve
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.Los Angeles Times
Kate Beaton changed comics. Part history lesson, part lit crit, her Hark! A Vagrant strips cast a wry eye over the past to reveal the sillier thoughts of kings, queens and characters of the canon. Quite rightly adored by millions, they are among the wittiest and most charming comics to have appeared in ink in the last decade.It's Nice That
[Beaton's] loose, free style and cheeky, occasionally vulgar sense of humor [...] has won her legions of fans, as well as publication in outlets like The New Yorker and Harper's.Interview Magazine
Handsome and hilarious, the six-panel stories in Hark! A Vagrant will undo all the uptightness about history instilled in you by academia, leaving you instead with a hearty laugh and some great lines for dinner party conversation.Brain Pickings
This is a comic strip that seamlessly blends the high-brow with the madcap.Boing Boing