Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Genre: comic strips collection
Pages: 166 (hardcover)
Published: 2011


I really don't have much to say about this collection of comics except that Beaton's work is awesome.  I had never heard of her or this book before this adorable rendering of Napoleon caught my eye in the graphic novel section of the library last week, but I will be definitely be stalking (er, visiting) her website in the future and keeping an eye out for her other printed collections. 

 If you have ever paged through the comics section of a newspaper and thought, "Wow, I wish there was a comic in here which puts a funny spin on Queen Elizabeth I's speech to her troops before the Spanish Armada...that's obviously comedy gold," then you will certainly appreciate this book.

As a few of you among my multitudes and multitudes of readers may know, I have been student teaching in an English classroom this last semester.  So, I especially appreciated the comics here which poked fun at classic literature and authors, because I was able to share a few with my class.  I showed them a comic about Oedipus Rex (yes, these poor fifteen-year-old souls were subjected to Oedipus as an assigned text; yes, they did laugh at the sexual innuendos, after I kindly pointed them out; no, I did not have the power to choose or significantly alter the curriculum).  I also decided to show one of my classes this hilarious comic which pokes fun at two of the Bront√ęs sisters' penchants for brooding, abrasive men...

 And after I pulled the comic up on the projector, I was like, "Pretty funny, huh?" 

And some of them laughed quite appreciatively, but I soon realized that was only because they could not believe I'd shown them a comic strip that included the word "asshole."  I guess maybe they don't get to read Jane Eyre until twelfth grade English. *shrugs*

Even if you don't enjoy snickering at the notion of Goethe having to deal with encounters with proto-Romantic, foppish fanboys obsessed with his The Sorrows of Young Werther, the book also has some fun with less literary books and pop culture.  Anyone who grew up reading Nancy Drew books will absolutely love the series of comics which imagines the plot of a Nancy Drew mystery based on its title and cover.  For example, 
There are also some comics which poke fun at the Tudors, Watson and Crick, and Batman, and a few about Canadian history which, hey, I didn't get at all.  Honestly, if there was one thing this book has inspired me to do (other than make my students think I'm even more of a nerd than they suspected), it is to learn a little about Canadian history, because it is an area where I am sadly lacking in knowledge.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who possesses nerdy inclinations or simply the inclination to breathe in oxygen and nitrogen.  It is a real treasure, and the comics are not of the type I have ever come across before.   

Just a quick update, because I realize I haven't really posted one in about three years: 
I do hope to continue posting on my blog this summer after such a loooonng hiatus.  I had all but abandoned this blog, but recently I started to have more free time for the first time in what feels like forever and I began to feel the familiar itch to blahblahblah about what I'm reading in a more private and personalized space than Goodreads.  I look forward to exploring how the book blogosphere has changed since I last frequented it, and hopefully to talking a bit with those of you who happen to stumble across, or back across, my little blog!

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