Monday, October 17, 2011
Hark! A Vagrant!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably familiar with Kate Beaton's comics. Beaton, a former history major and museum employee, writes almost exclusively about either history or literature, and has one of the most hilarious webcomics I've ever read (http://harkavagrant.com/). Her new book, Hark! A Vagrant just hit the #1 spot on the New York Times graphic novel list as well.
This book is, in a word, awesome.
The English geek in me adores her take on literary classics, particularly the Brontes. Wuthering Heights is one of my least favorite books of all time (and considering my enduring love for all things Victorian, this is really saying something) and yet I've been tempted to re-read it after reading some of her recent comics about Heathcliff and Cathy.
As a fellow history buff I think her re-interpretations of history are equally hilarious, and have greatly enjoyed comparing her assessment of the Edison/Tesla relationship to those in the new Oatmeal book, Five Reasons to Punch a Dolphin.
I think the reason why sites like Beaton's and the Oatmeal have such a devoted (and book-buying) audience is that intelligent humor, now more than ever, has been given a voice online. Would Kate Beaton have ever received a daily or weekend comic strip in a major newspaper? Not likely, especially given how often her work needs pretty extensive background knowledge in order to be really funny. Does she have a devoted online following of people who have that background knowledge? Absolutely.
In short, if like me you're a humanities nerd and love to laugh, pick up Hark! A Vagrant today.