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Hey, Kraven, What’s Your Opinion Of Kate Beaton?

I’m sure you’ve seen it, but just in case:

Hark! A Vagrant, such as it is, is an archive website now. I didn’t think it would be when I stepped away to work on other projects, but (not to kill the light mood around here) 2016-2018 were very difficult years in a personal sense, and emerging on the other side, I feel like this is a project that has run its course. I am so very grateful for all that this comic and my readers have given me, they have given me a career, joy, and more than I ever dreamed.

It’s been no secret that Kate Beaton — pride of Nova Scotia, chronicler of history and literature’s most absurd since 2006 — has done less and less of the strips that made her famous over the past years. It’s hard work, digging deep into, say, the biography of a politician who fought for queer rights starting in the 1860s, a man that almost nobody has heard of, and distill down all you learn into 24 panels … oh, and they have to be funny on top of everything else.

Multiply that effort by roughly 400 strips¹, work that’s done for free (although there’s probably an excellent print collection on the back end) and anybody would start to taper off in favor of the sort of work that maybe pays rent and groceries a little more directly.

Still she gave us strips, and more when you count the family strips that showed up on social media. And if she worked still less on Hark! when Becky got sick, nobody could have expected her to keep entertaining us for free when there were more important things. She did two children’s books in that time, and she’s been working on an autobio story that would be painful to produce without all the other challenges she’s endured.

So I absolutely understand her decision that it’s time to call it: Hark!, as a project, is done. I absolutely understand the appreciation and praise that’s flowing her way today, as we all remind her what her work has meant to us. What I understand and maybe think is unnecessary is that so much of that discussion is being placed in the past tense. Hark! A Vagrant is still here.

Matthew Henson is still doing squats on the North Pole, Miyamoto Musashi is still forgetting you need two things for a duel, Top Gun is still a movie about beach volleyball, and fun is still awful. Those comics will be as much a part of the canon of great cartooning as Charlie Brown and the Kite-Eating tree or a rousing match of Calvinball².

More importantly — and I say this as a man who considers that Musashi strip to be the single greatest comic of my half-century on the planet — my favorite work of Kate Beaton’s is always what’s next. She’s got a lot of work in front of her, some Hark!ish, most not. It’s all, every last bit of it, going to make us laugh, make us cry, make us hurt, console us, make us think, and make us feel.

Hark! A Vagrant is dead; long live Hark! A Vagrant.

Spam of the day:

On today’s agenda… Drop 20-by October

As the rest of this spam is for a weight-loss product, I’m presuming they mean drop 20 pounds (or even kilograms) by October. It’s worth noting that this message was sent on 30 September, in which case their approach is likely to involve amputation.

¹ Yeah, okay, you also get Strong Female Characters and Tit Windows in there which pretty much write themselves, but most of them were a whole buncha work.

² Not to mention the half-arsed cake. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would trade every single comic in the San Diego Convention Center during Nerd Prom for comics about Kate’s mum and da.

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