"I am a different person"
October 10, 2018 9:22 AM   Subscribe

"Hark! A Vagrant, such as it is, is an archive website now." About ten years ago, Kate Beaton started posting her history-themed comics at "Hark! A Vagrant" [previously]. She's now moving on to other comics and books projects. "I miss making humour comics, but coming back to them, I will have to figure out what that will look like." Beaton dedicates this archive to her late sister Becky.
posted by brainwane (43 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
I hope she finds fulfilling projects (it seems like she has). The "ducks" comic she posted on her tumblr still comes into my mind quite frequently. I adore the goofy history comics but she has already and hopefully will continue to create all kinds of interesting and thoughtful art.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:37 AM on October 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

Hark, a Vagrant is Good Internet and I’m sad that it’s being mothballed, though I understand why. For some reason this comic has stuck in by brain for years and still makes me giggle. Nobody does offended googly eyes better than Beaton.
posted by q*ben at 9:44 AM on October 10, 2018 [19 favorites]

I'll miss Hark A Vagrant but her memoir work has been so, so excellent. I hope (once she's ready) that she takes her comics in that direction.
posted by thecjm at 9:47 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Her children's book is excellent, too!
posted by uncleozzy at 9:51 AM on October 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have a friend who grew up reading Nancy Drew and I've always thought prints of Beaton's series of Nancy Drew comics would make for the perfect gift, but of course, none of them are available for order on the website ☹️ (I assume for copyright reasons, as all of the comics integrate the actual book covers.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:56 AM on October 10, 2018

Wow, I haven't kept up with her enough; thank you for this update.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:58 AM on October 10, 2018

I am so sad. When she put Hark! A Vagrant on hiatus to work on the children's book, I had a pang of sadness because I knew in my heart she wouldn't come back to that project. I echo thecjm's hope that she continues her memoir work. Especially the yearly Christmas ones.
posted by kimberussell at 10:13 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Beaton's other kids book, King Baby, is my favorite kids book ever. It's witty and smart and funny and really captures the way that young babies seem to interact with the world. We've read it at least two or three hundred times to our little guy when he was, in fact, the King Baby, and there's a page that shows the King Baby's progress through all the childhood milestones. Mr. Machine and I were positively verklempt when we realized that our kid had passed through all of them.

And now I find out there's a plush!

I may buy it instead of having a second child. It's certainly going to be cheaper.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:15 AM on October 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Is there a good "some favorites to start with" guide to Hark! A Vagrant? Some of mine: Rosalind Franklin, Stompin' Tom Connors, "confidence".

(I am remembering a Museum of Comics & Cartoon Art festival, ~10 years ago, where the table assignments ended up placing Randall Munroe of xkcd right next to Kate Beaton. What a huge excited perma-crowd gathered at that spot all weekend!)
posted by brainwane at 10:21 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

@ Wretch729: That "ducks" piece really hit home for me as well, after spending years working in a similar situation in northern Saskatchewan. IIRC, the graphic novel she's been working on is an expanded version of that story. I'm really looking forward to it.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

The Great Gatsby comics have remained a consistent source of joy for me ever since they first showed up in my RSS feed and college friends and I still routinely quote them at each other, especially as some of the people I first read and enjoyed them with now have children of their own and we can yell "WHAT BABY" at each other and actually be talking about their real life babies. I'm going to miss Hark, A Vagrant.
posted by protocoach at 10:33 AM on October 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

Ah, I love Kate Beaton's fat pony. But thanks to Wretch729 for the link to the Ducks comic, above. Just read the whole thing, and it's so good - no agenda, just honest and truthful and good.
posted by Ziggy500 at 10:41 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I loved Hark, A Vagrant, but her cartoons walking through her memories of her sister while she was dying of cancer are some of the loveliest, most heartbreaking things I have ever read.
posted by maxsparber at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

NEMESIS, tesla vs the women, balloon bros, and ooh a fanfiction are entirely without flaw
posted by poffin boffin at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

also there is a side quest in the new asscreed called Shark A Vagrant and it's delightful
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've been fully intending to buy a few prints but have had zero luck narrowing down my selections. I'm moving soon, maybe that will induce me to choose a few, already. (Babbage complaining about musicians has gotta be on the list, though, god, I love it.)

Until then, a Fat Pony figurine is my stalwart companion. I greatly look forward to whatever she does next.
posted by rewil at 10:50 AM on October 10, 2018

I had her St. Francis comic hanging on the wall of the last few places I worked. None were anything like Fort MacMurry, but I still had to rein in my desire to just fuck it all and go live on a mountaintop.

I cut out the third/fourth frame (of her looking upward and then huff huff huffing up the hill) and laminated it. I keep it in my wallet. I look at it when I feel lost or frustrated. Theres something about the way she drew herself in the top half that really resonates with me. I see a wide eyed look of someone who is searching, but I also see someone with a clarity of purpose. And then she's really working at getting up that hill. I look at it, recognize myself, and metaphorically tie in my hiking boots.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:51 AM on October 10, 2018 [12 favorites]

Haven’t you heard? Sexism is over!
posted by Paragon at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was hoping she's come back to Hark! A Vagrant at some point, but all good things, etc. etc., and I'm glad she's leaving the archive up, long may it run.

I use Twitter solely as a news feed, with a few exceptions for people whose voices, opinions, and hot takes I feel I really need to hear on a more or less daily basis, and Kate Beaton is most definitely on that list.

If you're on Twitter, she's very worth following.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:17 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

also there is a side quest in the new asscreed called Shark A Vagrant and it's delightful

I was alarmed at that abbreviated name until I parsed out that it didn't involve Scott Stapp.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2018

Beaton's holiday comics (or at least some of them). Becky is in some. If they're not 100% verbatim, I don't want to hear about it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:34 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lester Pearson is a good primer in mid-20th century Canadian prime ministers.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:37 AM on October 10, 2018

I was JUST looking at her site and her tumblr and wishing there were more comics, or at least an update on the graphic novel. My kid loves both of her kids' books, and I bought the BOAT! tshirt for my partner lo these many years ago and it is still in rotation.

I will be looking for more from her, but wow do I respect her need to pull back. I think it is so tough to be someone loved by the internet, to know that there are folks hanging on your every update. And life comes at us all, and it's weirdly invisible to your fans. I wish her and her family well.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:47 AM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I am also reminded that I need to see if the Stardew Valley mod that turns your horse into Fat Pony is still functional. Good times.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:57 AM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ohhh man. I love her work so much that I have "Canadian Stereotype Comics" and "Poe and Verne" in frames.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

She's worth following on Twitter. She still does a fair number of quick sketch comics.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on October 10, 2018

Kate Beaton and Chris Onstad were my two favourite things about the internet for a very long period of time. I have her books, even the sketch book, and we have a fat pony, and we'll always be into whatever she creates. There's a core of a caring and beautiful person within her work.
posted by humuhumu at 3:17 PM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Aw, I love Hark! A Vagrant.
posted by doctornemo at 3:20 PM on October 10, 2018

The number of times a topic of conversation has been introduced, in my daily life, where my first thought was a verbatim Hark! A Vagrant! comic are...non zero. Her comics illustrate the encyclopedia of my mind. Probably because those faces are perfect. Perfecttttt. A few examples:

She was my first introduction to Stan Rogers.
Every time I think about Dracula ever, I see that panel after "Mina, you know what to do."
She was also my first and best intro to Ida B. Wells.

Also, I just bought a newly born baby of my acquaintance a copy of 'The Princess and the Pony." Kate, you're a gift that keeps on giving. I continue can't-not-waiting to see what's next.
posted by theweasel at 3:49 PM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

Many of my faves have already been mentioned (honestly "Strong Female Characters" should be in an anthology of 20th/21st C media criticism somewhere) but I don't think anyone's linked the Straw Feminists (and sequel) yet.

Hark a Vagrant will always be dear to me, but I'm really looking forward to seeing where her work goes next (if the graphic novel is indeed an elaboration on the Ducks material, I think it's going to be astonishingly good). And the bits and pieces of work she's shared on her sister's life and death are almost too honest and painful to read, but I hope that she keeps doing them, only if it feels right and helpful to her, of course. They have a lot to offer to people going through or witnessing terrible things.
posted by karayel at 6:46 PM on October 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ohhh man. I love her work so much that I have "Canadian Stereotype Comics" and "Poe and Verne" in frames.

"The Canadians heard us making fun of them and got all fucked up on hockey" is an all-time great line.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:51 PM on October 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

I think fans who’ve been keeping up with her work at all this past 12 months knew this was coming, but it’s still a tiny bit sad to know Hark! is closed up for good. Nevertheless, this was a great reminder that I need to buy The Princess and The Pony for the precocious 3 year old in my life, so thanks for the post, and I hope anyone who hasn’t dug into the H!aV archives at this point takes some time to realize what a delight they are. Perhaps I’ll start back from the beginning myself.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:57 PM on October 10, 2018

Shalott and the Reginald/Aviary panels are my favourites.
posted by scruss at 8:06 PM on October 10, 2018

Kate Beaton was so good other people swiped her lines and got famous.

I know what you did, Grumpy Cat.
posted by Merus at 9:54 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, just the other day I was visiting Halifax, walked down a random street, and boom sudden Hark a Vagrant painting! It was such a delightful moment. (Also I'm a bit amused to see Street View blurred his face there.)
posted by traveler_ at 10:10 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Two more that I love: "Femme Fatale" and a biography of Tom Longboat.
posted by brainwane at 7:51 AM on October 11, 2018

I have an extremely unformed hypothesis about the way Beaton and Ryan North brought a particularly Canadian positive attitude and wry humor to the Web of the 2000s and 2010s that influences the sense of humor most of my Internet friends have.
posted by brainwane at 7:54 AM on October 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

@traveler_: There used to be a comic book store on that block. It occupied the space where the For Lease sign is in your link. The store was in the middle of moving to a new location the first time I ran across that mural, with both the old and new locations being open at once, and staff moving stock between them.
posted by Fish Sauce at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't believe I've never heard of her before reading this -- thanks for the revelation!
posted by milnews.ca at 12:32 PM on October 11, 2018

My husband was wearing a Fat Pony t-shirt in one of his online dating photos. That was definitely a factor in my response to his message to me.
posted by vespabelle at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2018 [9 favorites]

JHarris, that is nice - here it is on Thread Reader for anyone avoiding Twitter.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2018

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