Alessandra's Reviews > Hark! A Vagrant

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
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Jan 08, 12

bookshelves: humor, history, comics

I will confess, I'm a big history wonk. I love wit and humor about history, but I'm hardnosed enough to want it to be accurate.

Which is why I love Kate Beaton's collection of wickedly intelligent cartoons. She flows through history, and some literature, bemusedly underscoring its absurdity. From the joyous calisthenics of Matthew Henson, a black man who was the first to reach the North Pole (Robert E. Peary had badly frostbitten feet, and in her hilarious cartoon isn't even unpacked from the sled) to looking at a grubby Robinson Crusoe from a fastidious Friday's perspective to the bitterly funny wish of Dracula's ladies to be able to vote and own property, she flits from one fascinating bit of history to another.

And she gets her facts and visuals right! The Brontë sisters dress as they would have. Obscure bits of Canadian history are lovingly sent up. Novelists and scientists and mythic figures comment subversively on the current day and their own times.

Beaton's sense of humor is nonstandard. Her comics have a quiet, but biting cadence. As a history and literature fan, I find them really, really funny.
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