0 10/07/2012 reviews Books

History is Hilarious

… at least in the hands of Kate Beaton, who is equally deft at pointing out absurdities in literature in this smart collection of comics.

hark a vagrant.jpgHark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton

Drawn & Quarterly
ISBN: 978 1 77046 060 7

From proper literature (Austen, Bronte, Shakespeare, Crusoe, and ridiculous takes on guessing stories from covers) to history (historic hipsters, the French Revolution, Tesla, Borgias, and a raft of Canadian moments), Beaton leaves little out as she ranges over all the stuff you learned in high school and university and makes you look at it from a whole different angle. Her keen sense of the absurd blended with an obvious intelligence makes for really, really funny reading.

No comic works on its jokes alone, of course, and her black-and-white drawings add perfectly to the mix of classic topics and silly spins, being at once loose on line and catching the essence of famous figures and facial expressions to a T.

Hark! A Vagrant has been an online comic success for some time – you can take a look at some of Beaton’s comics on her website to get a feel for them and find new ones. Even though I read this as a library book, I am enjoying it enough that I am going to buy myself a copy, and one for my cousin, too. It did, after all, make me laugh out loud in public. Anything that can make me look like a total loon has definitely earned its price! Think I might be spending a bunch of time on her site now, too…

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