Get Your Hark! A Vagrant Fix With a New Compilation

No one has ever said that writing about webcomics is like dancing about architecture, but the simile applies when trying to describe Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant. You just have to read it to get it.

Beaton’s first collection of comics was released in 2011 and the latest—Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection—will be published on September 22 (she also released a children’s book called The Princess and the Pony earlier this year).

In the intro of Step Aside, Beaton describes her work in pretty simple terms: “When I get asked to describe my comics, the easiest thing to say is that it is historical or literary or pop-culture parodies.”

That’s apt, but it fails (sorry, Kate) to capture the silly, strange, smart and joyful elements that emanate from Hark!. The latest compilation has occasional bits of narration below the strips, which sometimes serve as introduction or context, and sometimes function only as a delightful aside. Most often, they do both.

On a page with the header, “The Rum Rebellion,” we get this caption: “Here is our old friend, William Bligh. I say old friend because you probably know him from Mutiny on the Bounty already, not because we are personal acquaintances (he is dead). It is easy to find Bligh in the history books—you just follow a breadcrumb trail of temper tantrums.”

On one titled, “The Last Days of George Danton,” it’s: “Quick! Who’s your favorite revolutionary! Is it Danton? Mine too! How many people described as “lionesque” actually fit the bill in looks and character? Did you say Robespierre is your favorite? You’re out of the fan club.”

You get the idea. Whether it’s the Founding Fathers, Wuthering Heights, the concept of “Strong Female Characters,” Ida B. Wells, or just an image from the archives, Beaton puts her clever and mirthful spin on an assortment of things you never imagined would send you into laughing fits. It’s sort of like a weird, fun, not entirely accurate lesson in history, literature and pop culture all at once.

Visit Hark! A Vagrant to see for yourself.

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TASCHEN
Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book
TASCHEN
TASCHEN

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese
TASCHEN

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN
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YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.

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