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Hark! A Vagrant
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Hark! A Vagrant

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  15,240 ratings  ·  805 reviews
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 villai ...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiFun Home by Alison BechdelAnya's Ghost by Vera BrosgolHark! A Vagrant by Kate BeatonFullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
Comics & Graphic Novels by Women
4th out of 379 books — 237 voters
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Best of the Web
2nd out of 169 books — 184 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joel
This comic is totally awesome and nerdy and I have nothing but good things to not articulate about it. Instead, here is my favorite H,AV! of all time:



You can basically read this entire book at Kate's site for free, but this is a really nice physical object. It weighs like two pounds, because it is full of literary references.

Hee hee. Balls.
Melki
Finally, a book of intelligent comics for eggheads! I mean really, when was the last time you read a good cartoon about regicide?

Here be funnies about Macbeth, the Brontes, St. Francis, and Jane Austin.

Chortle pleasantly as Jules Verne writes a squealy, mushy "let's-be-friends" letter to Edgar Allan Poe.

Snort aloud at the 15th Century Peasant Romance Comics.

Convulse with merriment as John Adams, after not being invited to any Founding Father Parties, decides to "lighten up", and ultimately sco
...more
Alana
If you have not yet been exposed to harkavagrant.com then I can only surmise that all the time you've spent on the internet to date has been wasted. Go rectify the situation immediately and while you're at it, go buy Kate Beaton's first book Hark! A Vagrant, a compilation of comics from the site with some book-exclusive comics tossed in to the mix.

I first came to know Kate Beaton's work after discovering her "Dude Watchin' with the Brontes" strip, where Emily and Charlotte ogle assholes and when
...more
Seth Hahne
Hark A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton

It takes a steady hand to string together an intricately woven, deeply nuanced plot. The number of authors who can take a handful of seemingly contrived elements and produce an elegantly composed narrative admixture are few and rare. Plot-heavy literature, when it succeeds, is a wonder to behold; but in its failure, we find little to surprise us. So when I describe Kate Beaton's Hark A Vagrant! as paean to complex plot structures and hail it as deviously devised, I hope you'll pay attention. The
...more
Monica!
Oh my God, guys, Kate Beaton. I don't know when, I don't know how, but some day she and I are going to be besties, getting drunk in a bar somewhere whilst laughing uproariously about Jules Verne and the Bronte sisters. It just has to happen.

But while I wait for that blissful day of happiness, I will console myself by pimping out this book, which you should own. It is magical in absolutely every way, and features all of my favorite characters, including Fat Pony, Equally Fat Napoleon, Dashing Wa
...more
Ken-ichi
Delightful content, but nothing new for fans of the eponymous web comic. A very beautiful physical object, of course, as one would expect from Drawn & Quarterly, considerably nicer than the previous self-published Never Learn Anything From History. Sadly the book is lacking the autobiographical doodles Beaton posts on Twitter, which, aside from being some of the funniest things she produces, are also some of the most heartfelt and touching. For me, many of her most amusing historical comics ...more
Vanessa
4.5 stars.

I received this book for Christmas today and read it in a few hours. Kate Beaton is a genius, it must be said. She manages to turn classic novels on their head and poke fun at history, whilst also including miscellaneous topics and characters in between.

I didn't rate it 5 stars only because I couldn't really follow the Canadian history themed strips as well as some of the others, but other than that it was superb.

#justiceforannebronte
Andrew
I saw this on a few lists of 'best graphic novels', which is really strange since this is not a novel, it's a collection of short strips and drawings around the theme of history (?) - maybe it's less broad than that.

I thought a few of the jokes were really clever, some were funny. But overall this was an exhausting read and the content would be better served in daily/weekly doses as an online comic or newspaper feature. And to be fair to the author, that was the original use of these strips (
htt
...more
Rikke
description

I'm in the middle of a particularly nasty exam right now, and I don't have much time for reading. Mainly because I'm not allowed to read, I long to read. Just the thought of reading something for no other purpose than my own pleasure makes my heart ache with longing. I miss reading. I do not work properly without my books.

So, I chose to make a compromise. The compromise was to reward myself with a few of Beaton's historical/literary comic strips whenever I finished preparing a text for my exam.
...more
Yasmin
Jul 10, 2014 Yasmin added it
I CAN'T WAIT OMFG

Edited: Everything I had hoped for
Punk
Comics. Beaton mixes history, butts, and pop culture like no one else. When she has Anne Bronte call someone a dickbag, you believe it, and whether she's drawing sexy Batman or Jules Verne, her characters are so expressive you can practically see them rolling their eyes.

This has all my favorites: Fat Pony, the Gorey covers (KIERKEGAARD), Canadian Stereotype Comics, Holmes and the Watsons. And it's not just the 6-8 panel pieces, or the 3 panel sets; it also has some of her quicker, 3 panel one-of
...more
Sarah
Very funny, very Canadian strip comics about historical and literary figures and events. My favorite parts were the section in which the plots of Nancy Drew novels were extrapolated from the covers, and the section in which she extrapolates the plots of classic books based on the Edward Gorey covers. She also has a particularly deft hand when gently skewering the nature of Canadian patriotism and heroism.
David Stewart
Kate Beaton has a new fan, for what it's worth. I read through Hark! a Vagrant in about an hour, and not once during the entire span of the book did I stop laughing for more than ten seconds. And I don't mean a chuckle here or a hiccup there, I mean full on, maniacal cackling the likes of which is only usually found watching an episode of Community or Flight of the Conchords. That's how funny the comic strips of Kate Beaton are. I have sore abs today because...well because I'm out of shape, and ...more
Siria
Ah, Kate Beaton. I always wish she did more medieval cartoons that I could use in the classroom. Or, alternatively, that I taught nineteenth-century lit just so that I could teach Jane Eyre using her Brontë cartoons. Knowing almost nothing about Canadian history, some of the cartoons fell a little flat for me, but there's a delicious eye for the historical absurd throughout.
Preeti
Awesome, awesome, awesome. I can't praise this enough. The idea of combining comics and history? Genius! And adding absurdity?? Be still, my heart.

I've come across Kate Beaton's comics before here and there, but never actually followed the site (which, yes, a huge mistake!). But I was checking out well-known web comics that my library had and thankfully, this was one of them.

These comics are absurd, hilarious, literally make you laugh out loud, AND make you want to find out more about subjects y
...more
Kerri Stebbins
I dig Beaton because she's (hilarious and witty, yes, and) not afraid to punch everyone in the face with her mad comic skillz. Literature, history, dead rascist presidents, Dracula, pirates, manatees: no topic (or marine-dwelling mammal) is off-limits.


[Four stars for making me (laugh, easily and often, yes, and) happy I never read Jane Eyre, and for the best two-sentence review of The Great Gatsby I've ever read, which goes a little something like this: "Everyone has to read The Great Gatsby in
...more
Amanda [Novel Addiction]
I feel smarter after reading this. I literally laughed out loud after some pages, and had to make sure to jot down my favorites for more chuckles later on. Kudos to the author, this was a great book!!!
Preludes
I’ve been a fan of Kate Beaton's brilliant webcomic for quite a while now. It it’s a fantastically fresh set of comics that mainly focuses on poking fun on countless areas of history, literature and general topics (such as what it is to be Canadian and feminism and even Batman). All are sharp, witty, sometimes silly and oddly educational, especially when you read Beaton’s commentaries at the bottom.

The book takes all that was good about the website, bringing you many of your favourite comics al
...more
Sesana
Hark!, a Vagrant collects strips from Kate Beaton's webcomic of the same name. Most of her strips are historical or literary in nature. And often vulgar, and far more often very funny. (My favorites: the Javert series.) It's a very nice edition, actually, a good hardcover with a pretty cool cover. I'll be following Beaton's work on her website from now on!
Karen
My favorites were the Brontes and the Poe & Jules Verne. And also, the ones where she takes classics and makes up ridiculous plots based on the Edward Gorey cover art (William Butler Yeats as a bird, made me laugh pretty hard). This book is genius.
Emily
Like Eddie Izzard in comix form: smart, historical, literary, incisive, and fucking hysterical.
Sam Quixote
Hark! A Vagrant is an online comic of short strips written and drawn by Canadian artist Kate Beaton, centred mostly upon her interests in literature and history. Oh and they're incredibly funny! If, like me, you remember the "Horrible Histories" series by Terry Deary and loved the cartoons in the books, it's like that minus the text, and similar to Nicolas Gurewitch's "Perry Bible Fellowship" in terms of length of strip and humour.

Beaton riffs on staples of literature by inserting 21st century
...more
Andy Zeigert
An excellent collection of Beaton's web comics. No historical or literary figure is safe. Beaton's combination of elegant, sometimes goofy line art and sharp wit will make you laugh more than once. The additional comments below many of the strips add context and sometimes new jokes.

I only wish more care had been taken in the production of the book. Many of the strips seem hurriedly scanned, with original pencils showing through so often that it becomes distracting. And I'm not sure if it was jus
...more
Korri
Who can help but love Kate Beaton's mash up of pop culture, history, and literature? She excels at using history and literature to skewer our contemporary cultural pretentions. In this volume she ponders the eternal questions, ones that have precoccupied great thinkers, questions like 'If Susan B. Anthony were on Sex in the City, do you think she would be a Carrie, a Miranda, a Charlotte, or a Samantha?'

What with comic depictions of Jane Eyre, Jules Verne lolling around penning fan mail to Edgar
...more
Dominick
I don't remember the last time I laughed this hard or this frequently reading a comics collection. Beaton's hilarious. I'm sure part of her appeal for me is the historical and literary bents of a lot of her work (her comic takes on the Brontes are especially funny, but she covers a lot of literary and historical ground--and Nancy Drew!), and admittedly she has some go-to gimmicks that might pall after a while (e.g. straight-laced nineteenth-century characters speaking in modern slang), but the o ...more
Jemiah Jefferson
Kate Beaton is a messy, hilarious, profane genius, both in person and on the page. Her smash success with the Hark! A Vagrant website and publications are absolutely deserved; somehow she makes scenes from Les Miserables, 19th Century Canadian history, and the annals of LBJ into hysterically funny comic strips that reward re-reading and sharing with others. You too will become fans of the way she draws babies, the Brontë sisters, various Dr. Watsons (Gay Watson is a particular favorite), ponies, ...more
Elizabeth A
This is another blog to book scenario. Why do I seem to be reading so many of these at the moment? This book is a collection of comics that poke at history and literature in fun ways. Some are laugh out loud funny, some I did not get. My faves were the strips that judged a book by its cover - the Nancy Drew ones in particular are absolutely delightful.
Ashleigh
I admit some of the more Canadian/historical strips may have gone over my head, but boy did I appreciate all appearances of literary characters, superheroes and Nancy Drew. It will make you laugh, it will make you ponder, it will make you cock your head to the side and go, "The hell?"
Sam
I'm fairly new to Kate Beaton's work, but after reading Never Learn Anything From History, I knew I needed to seek out Hark! A Vagrant, and I am sure glad I did. As a big literature buff, I adored seeing some of my feature classics being picked on (The Macbeth comics gave me way too much delight), and then to have it comboed with theories of the Bronte's, Canadian Prime Ministers and Sexy Batman? How could you go wrong with such a collection? It's pure fun from start to finish. Almost makes me w ...more
Cait
While this compendium of Hark! A Vagrant comics did not include my absolute favorite (fifth one down, language NFSW), nonetheless Kate Beaton is still brilliant. I love her slightly-snarky take on history and literature, in the comics as well as the descriptive notes below each page. Her take on changing Watsons in Sherlock Holmes makes me giggle, as does The Great Gatsby ("What baby?") are other favorites. Check out her website or the book today, and enjoy the laughter.
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Kate Beaton was born in Nova Scotia, took a history degree in New Brunswick, paid it off in Alberta, worked in a museum in British Columbia, then came to Ontario for a while to draw pictures, then Halifax, and then New York, and then back to Toronto.
More about Kate Beaton...
Never Learn Anything From History Myspace Dark Horse Presents, Volume Four Sketchbook The Princess and the Pony Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection

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