Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton

We rarely recommend buying something that can be enjoyed for free, but Kate Beaton's book Hark! A Vagrant is well worth your hard-earned $19.95—and not just because we want Ms. Beaton to earn sufficient money to continue writing and drawing comics full-time. (Although that's true, too.) This print collection is a delight for literature and history geeks everywhere: sharply observed, cheerfully illustrated, and ridiculously funny.

Beaton has been publishing the Hark! A Vagrant comic strip online since 2007, and released an earlier collection titled Never Learn Anything From History in 2009. She has received loads of well-deserved praise for her historical and literary cartoons (which feature everything from re-imagined Nancy Drew covers to jokes about the love lives of 15th century peasants), but she's not afraid of a good “Canadians are boring” jibe, either. Plus, she appears to find the characters in Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby as loathsome as I do, which automatically earns her major Wordcandy street cred.

Not all of Beaton's comics knock the ball out of the park. She too-often uses unexpected profanity as a fallback punchline, and the bleak humor of some of her historical strips can be a little too bleak for me to enjoy them without wincing. (Plus, I was totally saddened by Beaton's take on the fate of the Monstrous Squid.) But these are tiny waves in a vast sea of awesomeness, and the majority of Hark! A Vagrant is a testament to the author's intelligence and unique sense of humor.

As mentioned above, you can read all of Ms. Beaton's work on her website, and we encourage you to do so if you can't afford to buy the print edition of Hark! A Vagrant. (The comics will cheer you up when you get depressed about your clear need for a better-paying job.) But if you can spare twenty bucks, you should make the trip to your local comic book store, pronto. Not only will buying Hark! A Vagrant support the hard work of a probably-underpaid writer, but you'll go home with a beautifully bound collection of one of the weirdest, funniest comic strips on the web.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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