Monday, October 5, 2015

Step Aside, Pops

Hark! A Vagrant is my favorite webcomic, a random assortment of comic strips about history, literature, philosophical movements, autobiography, and commentary on comics. The artwork is luscious, full of emotive faces, clever dialogue, and smart storytelling. I find myself consistently entertained, surprised, and bemused by the infrequent updates, but I still check in with them whenever I can.

I reviewed the first collection of this webcomic when it was published a few years ago, and I am very happy to report that this volume carries on its high standard of quality and hilarity. This second collection leans more toward a specific type of comics, ones that highlight and parody women's lives, like "straw feminists" or "strong female characters." But there are also clever extrapolations of the images from book covers and a bevy of other comics, including:
Lampoons of superheroes
Cheeky literary adaptations (of Wuthering Heights here)
Snarky, yet respectful profiles of historical figures (Ida B. Wells here)
Commentary/satires of literary tropes
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. She is one of the most popular and celebrated comics artists working today, amassing quite a list of accolades, including the Doug Wright Award, Ignatz Award, and Harvey Award. She speaks about her work on this latest collection in these two interviews.

All of the reviews I have read about this collection have been very celebratory. Writing for NPR, Amal El-Mohtar called it "Sharp, charming, and weird," adding, "I can't recommend it enough." Rachel Cooke wrote that it is "all tremendous fun, eccentric and warm and funny." Tobias Carroll commented that it contained "wonderfully absurd doses of pure comedy" and added that "readers who enjoy smart, irreverent takes on history and literature will find plenty to delight in here."

Step Aside, Pops was published by Drawn & Quarterly, and they provide previews and more information here.

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