The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Will Accept No Apology From Her

Perhaps you saw the posting earlier today, the 400th update at Hark! A Vagrant, which consisted of an announcement of Kate Beaton’s next children’s book — King Baby, which I will buy multiple copies of day-of-release — and a long apologetic note about the lack of frequency of updates at H!AV and the likely continued paucity of same:

Hark! is always in the back of my head when I’m working on anything else, and I find myself wracked with guilt for not keeping the updates coming, I have one foot here and one foot there. This push and pull, I have to accept, makes anything I’m working on suffer. And I’ve been trying to figure out a solution to this! Something better than slow work all around. Because if I’m honest, I’m scared that if I leave this site alone too long, I’ll lose something very precious to me.


I’ve worked a long time to bring you here, and you’ve been good to come here and read my comics and support my work. I feel that we have built a relationship, my readers and I, it’s very important to me, and I never want to put it in peril. So what to do? [emphasis original]

I do not accept this apology. Mostly because Kate Beaton has nothing to apologize for. The amount of pure research she must do to bring us the figures from history that we’ve never heard of¹ (and should have!) is mind-boggling. Okay, sure, sometimes it’s relatively quick (and usually from a place of ire) to come up ridiculousness for our amusement, but most of the time she’s got to dig deep to understand her subject before she can mine those beautiful, shining specks of humo[u]r from what is often extremely serious source material.

Like so many others that have entertained us for free, we have no claim on Beaton’s time or attention. Particularly not when she talks about what’s taking up her time and attention:

[T]he main thing is the graphic novel, which is a memoir of my time in the oil sands, years ago. You may have seen the sketch that launched it, Ducks. Or the few comics on this site that are memoir-ish that don’t really fit with the rest of the things on here and I should probably get rid of. It’s a very different story from anything in Hark! A Vagrant, and a different mind set to work on. And I need to give that mindset some time and concentration in order to do a good job. So, I’m going to do that. [emphasis original]

Beaton’s time in the oil sands is something I want to read; it will be the confluence of so many different stories — toxic masculinity and toxic industries being just the two most obvious — that will be told by her in a way that nobody else can tell them. I want to read longform Beaton more than anything else, and if that means she feels bad about not producing more shortform laugh-chuckles, then I feel it’s us that should be apologizing to her.

For anybody that’s ever place a sense of obligation on her for anybody that has acted on that entitlement, I unreservedly apologize. And keep in mind that I once said that I would be willing to trade all comics, everywhere, for all time for more of Beaton’s “momics”, but that’s me wanting what I want for my own selfish reasons.

Really, what I want — what we should all want — is for Beaton to follow her muse and show us what it looks like when she stretches into another kind of storytelling. Whenever she feels the need to put together more Hark! strips, that’s awesome. If we ever get another story of Princess Pinecone and Pony, that would be wonderful. And if I never get another comic from Beaton that looks like what she’s done before, that will be best of all because she’ll be doing what she wants to do.

Thank you, Kate Beaton — for all the comics you’ve given us, for all the comics you will give us, for all the things that aren’t comics that you have kicking around in your head. You look at lives just a little bit differently than the rest of us do, and for us to get to share that is an act of profound generosity. Find what works for you, we’ll be waiting when you’re ready to tell us what’s next.

Plus, come on, King Baby. Look at that little guy. He’s gonna be great.

I other news, I can assure Ryan North from personal experience that it is completely normal to be nervous the first time you solemnize a marriage, but it’s also the best feeling in the world. Glad to have you with us.

Spam of the day:

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Paging Richard Stevens, Richard Stevens pick up the mocha courtesy phone.

¹ I count myself as reasonably well-read in the history of several nations — although I am hopelessly turned around on Chinese dynasties, have a sketchy (at best) sense of sub-Saharan history, and essentially no good sense of Southeast Asian or pre-Columbian South American history at all — and she still manages to surprise me four updates out of seven. Most recently: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.

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