'Hark! A Vagrant': Witty Comics on Historical and Literary Figures

hark_cover.jpg From New Yorker cartoonist Kate Beaton comes Hark! A Vagrant -- a witty and wonderful collection of comics about historical and literary figures and events, based on her popular Web comic of the same name. Scientists and artists, revolutionaries and superheroes, suffragists and presidents -- they're all there, as antique hipsters, and they're all skewered with equal parts comedic and cerebral prod.

Beaton, whose background is in history and anthropology, has a remarkable penchant for conveying the momentous through the inane, aided by a truly special gift for simple, subtle, incredibly expressive caricature. From dude spotting with the Brontë Sisters to Nikola Tesla and Jane Austen dodging groupies, the six-panel vignettes will make you laugh out loud and slip you a dose of education while you aren't paying attention.

I think comics about topics like history or literature can be amazing educational tools, even at their silliest. So if you learn or look up a thing or two after reading these comics, and you've enjoyed them, then I will be more than pleased! If you're just in it for the silly stuff, then there is plenty of that to go around, too. --Kate Beaton

01-hark_verne.jpg

02-hark_brontes.jpg

03-hark_kennedy.jpg

04-hark_anthony.jpg

05-hark_hamlet.jpg

06-hark_crusoe.jpg

Beaton is also a masterful writer, her dialogue and captions adding depth to what's already an absolute delight.

07-hark5.jpg

08-hark1.jpg

Handsome and hilarious, the six-panel stories in Hark! A Vagrant will undo all the uptightness about history instilled in you by academia, leaving you instead with a hearty laugh and some great lines for dinner party conversation.

Image: Kate Beaton / Drawn and Quarterly; Maria Popova.

TEMPLATEBrainPickings04.jpg

This post also appears on Brain Pickings.

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Entertainment

Just In