Book Of The Month – October 2011
Hark! A Vagrant
Written & Illustrated by Kate Beaton
I have a confession to make; I came late to the Hark! A Vagrant party. My friends always talked about the webcomic with high praise, and how funny and genius it was. In my defense there are hundreds upon hundreds of great webcomics out there nowadays, and it’s so hard to remember to bookmark them all. Of the regular ones I visit, I know their schedules like the back of my hand (Penny Arcade and Gunshow Monday, Wednesday, Friday; Questionable Content and Our Valuable Customers Monday through Friday), but if you’re rather forgetful like I am, you tend to visit a new series if you suddenly remember and are near a computer, or if you’re bored at work and have a smart phone handy. My love of Hark! A Vagrant! blossomed after Comic-Con this past summer.
Jeremy Awesome (cameraman, cool dude) was picking up an advanced copy of the book (signed, limited to 300 mind you) for a friend who wasn’t able to make it. While lugging our camera equipment and spoils of the convention around throughout the weekend, I had a chance every now and then to sneak a peek at the book and see what all the fuss was about. Little did I know, but Kate Beaton would soon become one of those beautiful Geeky Goddesses that I worship (alongside Blair Butler and Felicia Day).
Just like xkcd is a webcomic for the nerds and science types to enjoy, Hark! A Vagrant is the same brand of catnip for the history and literature buffs. Myself being an English major, I was laughing my rump off comic after comic, and much like xkcd you don’t have to be a scholar of any sort to still have an enjoyable experience when reading it (but it certainly does amplify the effects).
The majority of the strips are in the standard three-panel format, with an extended six-panel layout sprinkled in here and there when required. The subject matter jumps from period to period, century to century without a linear timeline. Sporadic keeps things lively and interesting, and doesn’t feel like Beaton is only focusing on one period in time to find humor in. The humor in the strips ranges from sophisticated to just plain silly, with some slightly bizarre thrown in for good measure. There is also some superheroes present, and I must say Sexy Batman had me rolling on the floor for several minutes.
So whether you’re a fan of Shakespearean plays or ever wondered if it was possible to make jokes regarding The Great Gatsby, I highly recommend you check this collection out, then afterward go to her website and bookmark it for your viewing pleasure. It’s such a great looking hardcover, and to think this doesn’t even collect the entire archive! Leaves it open for much more goodness in another thick collection in the future, and I’ll definitely be picking up that one as well.