I’m a lousy liar so I’ll tell you all how I came across Kate Beaton: I saw a quote written by her on Isabel Greenberg’s rather astounding The Hundred Nights of Hero and I felt like checking out her work.
Hark! a Vagrant originally started as a web-comic and this collection features the best strips and some annotations by the author, which are included in the web-comic as well. Beaton’s specialty is focusing on a certain detail in history or literature and making a sly comment about its absurdity. For example the comic begins with the Brontes fantasising about their ideal men. While Charlotte and Emily admire the douche-bags, Anne prefers the morally upright ones. As a riposte Charlotte and Emily just laugh at her and point out that is the reason why her books don’t sell as much as theirs.
Other people who Beaton makes fun of are Canadian figures of history, Nancy Drew, Robinson Crusoe (those made me laugh loudly) Shakespeare and tons more. The artwork is simplistic but it’s the jokes that count.
Really it’s a matter of taste. If you like clever off kilter humor then rush out and get this. I can say that I’m a fan and I’ll definitely invest in more of her books, or , duh, just read the comic online.