Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton

A new book from cartoonist Kate Beaton compiles the best of her Hark! A Vagrant online series – and it’s one of the funniest comic strip collections we’ve seen in years…

Beaton’s strips often reference historical figures as well as well-known characters from literature and popular culture. In looking at the also-rans of history, not to mention speculative scenarios – the Beat Poets playing ‘eye spy’ while driving, for example – there’s plenty of scope for some comedy about the nature of fame and celebrity.

In Beaton’s world, characters are often shown in competition with one another – there’s Liszt and Chopin, for example, or Shelley and Byron.

Beaton’s great skill is in the pacing and timing of her jokes. Her drawings are very loose and have a spontaneity about them, but the dialogue and choice of language she deploys is so tightly honed that many of the strips would succeed if you just read them out loud.

What she does with consumate ease is match her characters’ speech with facial expressions and gestures that distill into something so recognisable and so human that you can’t help but laugh.

After years of publishing these hilarious strips online, it’s great to see them published as a book.

Tom Gauld, Stephen Collins

Meredith Grens’ Octopus Pie

John Allison’s Bad Machinery

Dan Berry podcast –

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