Step Aside, Pops
Ok, full disclosure. While I wouldn't call myself a Kate Beaton (Never Learn Anything from History) apostle, I do love pretty much everything she makes. So with her latest collection of Hark! A Vagrant comics, I’m all over it like ketchup on, well, everything.
When the first copy of Step Aside, Pops came into the shop, I rushed around showing all my co-workers, asking if they liked Kate Beaton. Then drowned them in comics no matter what their answer was. “Look at this one” thrusting my finger at a page. “Now this one!” flipping to another. It was like showing a friend your new favourite song and watching them while you both listen to it. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.
Honestly, there’s a reason why this book spent 6 months on the New York Times bestseller list.
I think one of the main reasons that I love Kate Beaton's work, is that her comics span from history, superheroes, literature, you name it. She takes all of those references and throws in some modern dialogue and situation. Before you know it, what you've got is pure comedy gold.
One of my favourite movies growing up was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I can see parallels when I read Beaton's work. Both take well known stories and push them over the edge into ridiculousness.
I won't describe the comics in too much detail. It's always a let down when someone tries to describe a comic without the images. It’s like explaining a joke, it's just bad for everybody.
One of my personal favourites is the series of comics about Lois Lane, star reporter of the Daily Bugle. She also happens to be Superman's love interest. Beaton turns the obvious story on its head. Lois is fed up and tired of all of Superman's crap. Every time she gets a lead on a story, he f*cks everything up by swooping in and trying to saving her. It's perfect.
And then there’s the femme fatale collection. Beaton takes the flimsy, one dimensional character tropes, gives them depth, and sneaks in a joke, all in three panels. It's as if the authors of the original hardboiled detective novels weren't even trying. And I say this as someone who loves 1950's detective novels.
On a bit of a different wavelength, the last group of comics that I'll rave about are the the Spooky Postcards. Here Beaton takes an old halloween postcard and bases a comic around the image. Each one is better than the last. She also does them with Nancy Drew covers as well as Edward Gorey book illustrations. There is no end to Kate Beaton's mastery.
So I've gone and done exactly what I said I wouldn’t do and explained a bunch of comics. I'll just leave it with this.
If you like laughing, even only just a little bit, read these comics.
If you like learning little weird historical nuggets, read these comics.
If you like poking fun at conventions and norms, read these comics.
In fact, just read these comics. You'll be better off if you do. Remember, laughter is the best medicine for all life's problems. Sometimes you just need to laugh at the world.