Down & Nerdy: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Welcome to my latest feature here at Attack the Stacks…Down & Nerdy! Down & Nerdy will feature things like non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. – things that are generally considered to be, you know, nerdy.

Hark! A Vagrant
By Kate Beaton
168 Pages
Drawn & Quarterly

Hark! A Vagrant takes readers on a romp through history and literature—with dignity for few and cookies for all—with comic strips about famous authors, their characters, and political and historical figures, all drawn in Kate Beaton’s pared-down, excitable style. This collection features favorite stories as well as new, previously unpublished content. Whether she’s writing about Nikola Tesla, Napoleon, or Nancy Drew, Beaton brings a refined sense of the absurd to every situation.

In just four years, Beaton has taken the comics world by storm with her non sequiturs, cheeky comebacks, and irreverent punch lines. With 1.2 million monthly hits on her site—500,000 of them unique—and comics appearing in Harper’s Magazine, the National Post, and The New Yorker, her caricatures of historical and fictional figures filtered through a contemporary lens display a sharp, quick wit that knows no bounds.

So here is where I make my obligatory disclaimer – I don’t normally do comics. I don’t really even do graphic novels all the often. But in this case I make an exception because these comics are, by and large, involving characters from history and literature. Can you get more nerdy than that?

Still not interested? The first comic in the book is called “Dude Watchin’ with the Brontes.” Yes, those Brontes. There’s a comic that wonders which Sex and the City character Susan B. Anthony would be most like. And…AND. There is a comic involving Maurice Richard for those hockey fans out there. YAY. Needless to say, these are my kind of comics. If history and lit isn’t scary enough for the general public, Beaton is Canadian so she throws some Canadian history at readers.

While this is a bit of a niche book for a certain type of person, there is a little something for everybody. There are the Crime Solving Teens (which pokes fun at YA), Sherlock Holmes, Napoleon, David Bowie, Anne of Green Gables, Shakespeare, Poe & Jules Verne, Beethoven (or Beeth-Oven, if you’re Bill S. Preston, Esq.), Burke & Howe…Beaton’s comics take us on a tour through history and literature. If you’re interested in graphic novels or just branching out a bit, give this one a try.

3.75/5 Stars

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  1. I’m glad you liked it! I’ve actually got a copy on hold at the library I need to go pick up 🙂 your review came at the perfect time for me to get excited about reading it!

    • Oh yay, I hope you like it! I’m trying to expand my horizons a little bit and coming across some really good stuff. 😀


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