And Then I Read: HARK! A VAGRANT

HarkaVagrantImage © Kate Beaton

I’d heard good things about this collection, and I found it entertaining. Beaton turned to cartooning after finding working in museums unrewarding, and reports she was always drawing cartoons in school for the student newspaper. She has a love of history and literature, and that love allows her to make fun of both with knowledge and  insight. Her humor is often dry or sarcastic as she takes on Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Napoleon and John Adams, to name a few. Her subjects are wide-ranging, there are a few on comic book characters, and modern trends like hipsters, some book reviews, and jabs at Canadian history (Beaton’s home country). Not all the strips worked for me, and not a lot of them made me laugh, but most were entertaining and worth reading.

The art style is rough and somewhat amateurish, but it grew on me, Beaton has a way with body language and facial expressions that tends to overcome a lot of the drawing flaws. It walks a fine line between the loose but artful work of Shel Silverstein or Harvey Kurtzman and the kind of cartoons you might see in a typical school newspaper or, sadly, some of today’s newer syndicated strips. In all, it’s a good read.

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