Hark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton

Overview -


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.  Read more...

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More About Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton


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.

  • ISBN-13: 9781770460607
  • ISBN-10: 1770460608
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publish Date: September 2011
  • Page Count: 166
  • Dimensions: 9.14 x 8.04 x 0.84 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.54 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Literary

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-09-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

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 Brontë 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 naïf 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? (Nov.)

BookPage Reviews

Wit and wisdom

From poking fun at single life to celebrating neuroses, these illustrated books make excellent gifts for readers who appreciate the unexpected.

Single life, in poems
Writer Beth Griffenhagen (single) and artist Cynthia Vehslage Meyers (formerly single) have put pen to paper to create a witty, wistful ode to single-dom in Haiku for the Single Girl. Women surely will relate to each short poem with a rueful sigh, sympathetic eye-roll or knowing smile. Meyer’s line drawings nicely complement the haiku, whether the subject is cleavage, biological clocks, lost love or gaydar. From “I feel its approach,/Inevitable as death:/Internet dating” to “Men don’t realize/We women thrill to conquest/As much as they do,” Haiku for the Single Girl offers insight and entertainment in hilarious and easily digestible bits.

Consider the quicksand
Roz Chast is a longtime cartoonist for the New Yorker. She’s also an anxious person (it runs in her family) and an insomniac. Those two characteristics have been happily married in What I Hate from A to Z, Chast’s neurotic, comical and—depending on your anxiety level—unsettling compendium of the author’s pet peeves and personal nightmares. Her clever take on the big, often bad world in which we live depicts a balloon as an “imminent explosion” and undertow as “the ocean, pulling you to your watery grave.” There are positive takes, too, like the upside of mausoleums: If the person inside is still alive, at least they can bang on the door and be let out. Chast’s collection would make a splendid gift for your favorite worrywart, or a warning for the carefree sort who should worry just a little bit more.

Love and hope, online
Ah, love at first sight . . . the stolen glances, the thrill of the unknown. But what if the moment passes without a word? There’s always the Internet, specifically the Missed Connections section of Craigslist. In Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found, Sophie Blackall muses on love and relationships and describes her own near miss: In 2009, a subway seatmate stepped off the train and mouthed “Missed Connections” to her through the window. She looked up the phrase online and, after reading hours’ worth of Missed Connections listings, her popular blog was born. Using Chinese ink and watercolor paints, she interprets ads by men and women, young and old, sassy and shy. Her lovely book offers a testament to romance in its many forms, from a fleeting encounter to decades-long yearning, with titles like “Greenpoint Laundromat,” “We Shared a Bear Suit” and—hooray!—“I Can’t Believe I Found You.” 

Laughing through the ages
What if Susan B. Anthony were on “Sex and the City”? Or Odysseus checked out Facebook? Or Brahms fell asleep during a Liszt concert? Those are just a few of the many hilarious historical oddities pondered by Kate Beaton, creator of the celebrated Hark! A Vagrant. She began the weekly webcomic in 2007, and today, her website gets 1.2 million monthly hits. In Hark! A Vagrant she takes a fresh and funny look at the literary canon (noting that Robinson Crusoe’s Friday got a raw deal, and the Brontës romanticized “douchey behavior”), plus politics, science, gangsters, saints . . . whatever inspires her skilled pen and sharp mind.

BAM Customer Reviews