When preparing to write this review, I got quite a surprise. I searched in the archives on my blog and on Goodreads to find my review of the first Hark! A Vagrant book and discovered that not only had I not reviewed it at any point, but I hadn’t even entered it as read on Goodreads. I have absolutely no idea why, as I got the first book back in 2011 and was extremely happy that Kate Beaton was finally collecting some of her amazing comics in book form. As a bonus, the book included new strips, never before published on her website! The book was a clear five star read for me – I have no idea why I never got round to blogging about it. Back then I was more selective about what I reviewed for my Cannonball, but still – how could I not have spread the word about the genius that is Kate Beaton?
For those who don’t know, Ms Beaton is a Canadian web comic creator with a background in history. She frequently takes history or literature as inspiration for her very funny comics, drawn in a simplistic style. One of her most popular creations, the little fat pony, is now the star of its own book and you can also get little plush versions of it (just in case anyone was wondering what I’d like for Christmas).
In her first book, highlights include Dude Watching with the Brontës:
Some lovely commentary on Jane Eyre:
The always delightful 15th Century peasant comics:
And these great panels in a series about Bram Stoker’s Dracula:
If you like any of these, you are likely to be a fan of Kate Beaton. The new book is much of the same, but some of the material didn’t work as well for me. I still laughed a lot, but there were a few too many topics that didn’t really feel as interesting to me. Which is still to say that it’s a great collection of comics and I don’t for a second regret getting the book in hardcover. I just wish there were more true classics, like this one: