History, Repeating: Should You Be Reading ‘Hark, A Vagrant’?
With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
With Hark, A Vagrant, cartoonist Kate Beaton offers a weird, wacky, once a week (sometimes) webcomic strip about all the awfulness, honestness, and awesomeness of history, from the beginning of time to, uh, like yesterday.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
History. Each small vignette tells a different condensed version of a historical tale. Think Drunk History, but funnier, more educational, and shorter. In one installment you might see a somewhat ahistorical story making fun of Napoleon, and in another you will see a tongue-in-cheek comic about Tesla's popularity (and celibacy).
There are a couple of recurring characters --- because, c'mon, some historical figures are just plain funner than others --- but for the most part Hark, A Vagrant offers an entertaining romp through Kate Beaton's brain and global history (with an occasional aside into pop and/or Canadian culture).
The only thing that remains the same is the cute art, the funny jokes, and your level of entertainment (hint: it's high).
WHO’S IT BY?
Kate Beaton is best known for her work on this comic, but he has also done work for Marvel in Strange Tales II, and appears in the Thought Bubble Anthology, and she has created several children's books, including The Princess and the Pony, about a princess, her pony, and poots.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
History is an endlessly fascinating thing, because it's the story of us. However, a lot of times when historians attempt to tell people about the amazing lives of those who came before, it ends up as boring as a snore. Kate Beaton knows how to make it delightful. You'll learn more with this comic than from many a history class.
Some of the stories might seem esoteric, or feature people you don't recognize, but even if it's a story that you're totally thrown by, there's approximately zero chance that you won't find it utterly hilarious and adorable.
Did we mention her art? It's great. Like, really really great. The whole comic is. With its light-hearted touch it manages to tell us about history in a way that fully shows the foibles and triumphs of those who made our world today.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of Sarah Vowell. Anyone who is interested in webcomics. If you've ever opened a Sunday paper and turned to the comics at the back, you'll probably dig this. It's as episodic, but a thousand times funnier. It's also great for any lazy kids who desperately need help passing a history exam.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
You can see Hark, A Vagrant at harkavagrant.com. At the time of this writing the comics are on hiatus while Beaton works on a graphic novel, but the archives are well worth exploring. You can also purchase the first collection, Hark! A Vagrant, and the second collection, Step Aside, Pops, in better book stores and online, published by Drawn & Quarterly.