Hark! A Vagrant is not really a graphic novel but a collection of comics from Kate Beaton. This history and anthropology graduate has a wide range of interests presented here (with commentary) in warm, idiosyncratic, insightful, and hilarious fashion. Adaptations of classic literature such as Wuthering Heights and Robinson Crusoe brush shoulders with a cigarette-smoking, off-put Wonder Woman. Historical figures like Arctic pioneer Matthew Henson and 15th century peasants are cast in a much different light than usual, not exactly disrespectfully but in a very humanized manner. These comics are full of personality, brilliantly rendered and presented. Also, I should add, some of them feature profanity and/or adult situations, so this is not exactly a book for the general student population.
Kate Beaton is a Canadian artist currently living and working in New York. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, such as Marvel Comics' Strange Tales and Dark Horse Presents, and even in the prestigious The New Yorker magazine. Although she is relatively new to the comics field, she is amassing quite a list of accolades. Her self-published History Comics won the 2009 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent. She also won the 2011 Harvey Award for Best Online Comics Work. She talks more about her influences and work in this interview in the Paris Review Daily.
Thus far, the reviews I have read have been almost totally positive. CBR's Kelly Thompson gushed, "the book is a must have for any comics fan that likes their humor smart and their visuals hilarious." Barnes and Noble's Paul Di Filippo called this book "wonderfully nonsensical and risible, yet somehow seductively educational" and Beaton's art "marvelous, loose-jointed, lively, and not over-perfected." The Comic Journal's Rob Clough wrote that this collection "wobbles at times" but augurs great work to come.
This compilation was published by Drawn & Quarterly. They provide a preview here.
In addition, Beaton has a tumblr of art and "research" you can view here. Her webcomic is still being published on an irregular basis.