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An Amazonian Cartooning Machine, Laying Waste To All That Dare Oppose Her

There was an impromptu parade across the show floor a little before noon, as Jeff Rowland did the strangest thing of his life at Comic-Con this week today, snaking 200+ Homestuck fans from the TopatoCo booth to the autograph alley, which has sufficient space for an Andrew Hussie signing. The 400 copies of each of the Homestuck print collections are expected to sell out before Saturday is done.

The thing about reading comics to an audience is that it’s fundamentally an unnecessary act — the words are right there on the screen. But when the reading is by Kate Beaton, the voices add that extra something that ramps the humor up to previously unattainable levels. Head over to her archive, look up the terms nemesis or vikings or Wonder Woman, and know that as funny as it is in your head, it is somehow funnier to hear Kate read them in a capacity room of 329 people, all laughing together at the absurdity.

The remainder of Beaton’s presentation was quick personal history in photos and anecdotes, followed by Q&A. Rather than try to keep up a transcript (which doesn’t give the feel of the back-and-forth as it occurred), here were some key points:

  • Research into history and literature is a matter of looking at something or reading about a time or a place, trying to look at it through fresh eyes (and a modern POV), then finding humor in the truth.
  • When not drawing, Beaton reads a lot; a lot a lot. Lately, she’s into horror novels, which is what motivated Fat Pony and the ghost.
  • The very popular autobio comics don’t really work on the main Hark! A Vagrant site, as they’re tonally very different. She’s trying to build a home for them and is in the midst of figuring it out.
  • The Strong Female Characters are just awful people, which makes them fun to write because they’re terrible people. All they know is what Hollywood-type characters know, which is how to kick ass and have your ass out. In comics and movies, those kinds of characters are everywhere, but they were less an explicit critical commentary and more a case of Beaton, Meredith Gran, and Carly Monardo trying to make each other laugh.
  • Her process is very simple: draw in sketchbook for a while, light pencil on a grid on Bristol board, then go over that with ink. The one actual quote in this piece:

    I really have the most basic process for doing comics. The less steps, the more genuine the line, the more genuine the faces are.

  • Her family “gets it” to varying degrees; her sistershave all been to the Calgary Comic Con, and seen it, seen her fanbase, leading to the conclusion You’re famous as a DICK (Beaton: “That doesn’t even make sense”). Her parents don’t read webcomics and don’t really get the humor, be have always encouraged her and primarily worry about things that parents worry about, like Do you have a dental plan?
  • Her favorite characters from classic literature to mess with are the ones that are iconic, so it’s not a big risk with people not recognizing it, but which have hidden scenes which are forgotten or don’t make it into the movie and are insane (cf: Wuthering Heights). For instance, in Dracula there’s that scene where John Harker opens the door and Mina is in there sucking blood out of Dracula’s chest and she’s like “Deal with it.” This weird chest blood-sucking, it’s not the sexy babe vampires that you get in the movies, it’s just bananas.
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