Hark! A Vagrant is a largely history-based Webcomic by Kate Beaton, best known for its historical comics, which are one-shots of varying length focusing on historical events or figures getting into pretty inaccurate situations.
Recurring themes include Beaton visiting her younger self, Canada, a pony called "Fat Pony", and a story about a sailor who meets a mermaid. Like most webcomics, there is little continuity between entries, and it rose to fame through Memetic Mutation taking hold on a few comics. Also, rather than use Alt Text, Beaton usually accompanies each comic with a short paragraph.
The webcomic went on hiatus in mid-December 2016 as Beaton switched focus to a graphic novel she was working on, though she continued to post sporadic updates on her Tumblr. On the 10th of October 2018 Beaton updated the website to inform readers that due to personal issues and continuing work on other projects she had decided that Hark! had run its course and the website would now be an archive of the comic with no new comics planned. The comic can be read on its site. Additionally, Kate Beaton has a personal tumblr which can be seen here, and a Live Journal here., though both have been dormant since 2017 and 2012 respectively; she can currently be found on Twitter and Instagram.
This webcomic provides examples of:
- Adaptation Decay: Not of the comic itself, but Beaton has a pretty good theory for how this happened to Dr. Watson.
- Adipose Rex: "George IV, You Are Too Fat To Be King."
- Affectionate Parody: Of history and literature, among other things.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Satirized using two of the authors who popularized the trope.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Played for Laughs In-Universe.
- Marat spends all his time in the tub because he really likes baths."Sometimes? I pretend to be Neptune."
- Also, her Nancy Drew comics, where she takes the covers to old books in the series and comes up with... alternate explanations for the scenes shown. Other characters are often shown worrying about Nancy's mental health.
- Her take on Lois Lane is that she's a normal reporter who's just trying to do her job, but Superman keeps bothering her by trying (and failing) to get her to care about his Secret Identity.
- Beaton's interpretation of Wonder Woman is somewhat unconventional.
- Sexy Batman definitely qualifies.
- Marat spends all his time in the tub because he really likes baths.
- Amateur Sleuth: Parodied with the Mystery Solving Teens, who are rather apathetic about their "job" of solving mysteries and usually just want to loiter somewhere. In Beaton's words, "real teens don't give a shit about anything".
- Amazonian Beauty: Cinderella, of all people!
- Amusingly Short List: In this instalment, Musashi's opponent has a list of things necessary for a duel: that list being "dudes" and "swords".
- Anachronism Stew: Lampshaded here.
- Angels Pose: The Strong Female Characters, often combined with a Boobs-and-Butt Pose (with all the ridiculous contortion that would suggest).
- Antiquated Linguistics: Consistently averted. No matter what time period the comic is set in, all characters use modern English because it's funny. The only comics that play this straight are the title-dropping comic with Kate and the vagrant and the Founding Fathers strips, which invert this by having characters speak in Antiquated Linguistics in very modern settings (the exception being Benjamin Franklin, who immediately adapts to modern American English for extra funny).
- Apologizes a Lot: Canadians.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Beaton's version of Macbeth's reaction to the witches' prophecy:Banquo: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Macbeth: (thinking) Kill everyone.
Banquo: Ha ha! Our kids are totally gonna hook up!
- Art Evolution: Compare the first posted comic to one from 2012.
- Author Appeal: Beaton's comics are about literature and history.
- Author Avatar: In the "younger self" comics.
- Badass Boast: The velocipedestrienne has one, partly thanks to no punctuation is funnier.Velocipedestrienne: You see me rollin up pops you step aside
- Beige Prose: Very frequently, sometimes averted.
- Berserk Button:
- Charles Babbage and musicians.Georgiana: [speculating on her husband's legacy] "Charles Babbage, he hated musicians"
Charles: I hate musicians SO MUCH
Georgiana: "Charles Babbage, does he have to make a big spectacle of it every time we go out"
- Beethoven, at the mention of Haydn by his nephew Karl van Beethoven.Beethoven: Ah, you say these things to hurt me, but I know it isn't true. You love me best.
Karl: Everything you know you learned from Haydn.
Beethoven: Why do you always - HAYDN TAUGHT ME NOTHING.
Karl: You're such a douche.
- Charles Babbage and musicians.
- Black-and-White Morality: Pointed out in the parody of the colonial-era novel Young Goodman Brown. Even the Devil thinks Brown is a hypocrite.
- Black Comedy:
- Historical events and personages are depicted in a comedic manner, even the darker, more terrifying ones.
- Defied in an early strip about the Battle of Gettysburg, where her attempts to brainstorm cartoon ideas with a ghost has him snap that "everyone I knew died and it was grisly as fuck."
- Black Spot:
- *Bleep*-dammit!: A weird case of this happening with nudity; one of the Strong Female Characters was originally designed with an eyepatch covering only one of her breasts, but the final design has a pair of them... but then the original concept art is posted further down on the page anyway.
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose:
- The strong female characters take this as a challenge.
- Anne of Cleves is shown doing this in her portrait in "Anne of Cleves Gables".
- Of all people, so did Prince Albert.
- The original Pygmalion "perfects" his statue of Galatea with this.
- Brain Bleach: "Get away from me James Joyce."
- Breakout Character: Fat Pony. Lampshaded in one of the later comics where he appears.
- Brits Love Tea: And Australian General John Monash is having none of it.British General: Mock the British, then, Monash, go ahead! But I hardly think—Monocled Upper-Class Twit: [looming into the frame holding a teacup] DID SOMEONE SAY TEA PARTY
- Cat Up a Tree: Here. And Wonder Woman is supposed to rescue it. Hilarity Ensues.
- Canada, Eh?: Canadian stereotypes comics.
- Celibate Hero: Tesla, the Celibate Scientist.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: Charlie and the Marvelous Turnip Factory, where Charlie gets a ticket to go to the "wonderful and magical" factory. Too bad Charlie hates turnips.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The comic synopsis of The Great Gatsby points out that Tom and Daisy's daughter disappears (and isn't mentioned again) after she's introduced, giving the impression that Tom and Daisy are both terrible parents who often neglect her.
- Cluster F-Bomb: A good deal of the Mystery-Solving Teens' dialogue.
- Cool Old Guy: Pope John Paul II.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A humourous portrayal of Musashi in his duel against Kojiro, being late and using an oar because he forgot his sword ("You can't expect me to remember everything!"), while Kojiro is annoyed because there were only two things they needed for their duel - Dudes and Swords. Kate Beaton notes he actually carved the oar into a sword intentionally, but it was funnier this way. Kojiro is naturally annoyed at losing to such a person.
- Cuteness Proximity: "Awe dogs of war! How can I stay all broody around you?"
- Deadly Deferred Conversation: In the Kokoro comics Sensei's reluctance and hesitance to share his backstory with the young man, and the fact that he only does so in his suicide note, is lampshaded in "The Heart of Things (But Later)"I would like to tell you about my past juicy secrets, and yet I think a dog will bark somewhere so that I cannot continue my story.
- Determinator: Andrew Jackson does not like getting outdone, especially not about cheese.
- Dirty Old Man: Benjamin Franklin in the Founding Fathers strips...just like in real life, really.
- Droit du Seigneur: "So there I was, about to take my right as lord of the land, to first night with this hot young bride" "...As is 100% expected and real"
- Dung Ages: The Medieval Peasant Teen Couple are living in them. They try to make the best of it, but it's pretty bad all around.
- Also, the strip parodying the non-fiction book The Origins Of the Medieval World.Peasant: Why are we eating gruel with our hands?!
Other Peasant: Dude, it's the Dark Ages, no one knows shit about anything yet. You're lucky we have bowls.
- Also, the strip parodying the non-fiction book The Origins Of the Medieval World.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Banquo in strip #2.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The dark-haired Mystery Solving Teen loves his grandma. The Mystery Solving Teen with bangs loves his grandma, too, but he doesn't look like a giant tit when he wears the things she makes for him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Devil himself quickly gets fed up with Young Goodman Browns hypocrisy and racism.Satan: Jeez, you and your binaries.
- Even the Guys Want Him: "Meanwhile in a 20 mile radius of this event: Bodices ripping, men turning gay."
- Facepalm: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs slaps a hand over his face while he's trying to argue for gay rights, when he compares it to people needing to speak up against witch hunts in the (then) near past only for a lady to say that "Ok, except everyone knows witches don't exist." Ulrichs is a real historical figure, who was advocating for gay rights before the word homosexual was coined and ended up exiled for his activism.
- Fan Dumb: Jane Austen is frustrated with people obsessing over Darcy's hotness and adding zombies to her books.Fan: Is it a social commentary about hunky dreamboats
- Fan Fic: "You are not a very good monk."
- The Fate of the Princes in the Tower: Played for Laughs, obviously, while pointing out that Richard III wasn't the only one with motive, means and opportunity.
- Femme Fatale: Parodied, of course."I enjoy guns and crafts. Don't box me in."
- Flanderization: Watson appears as a Fat Idiot who goes about saying things like “By jove, a clue!” The original, un-Flanderized Watson is very annoyed by this. He's not happy about Gay Watson either.
- Foe Romance Subtext:
- General Failure: Charles Edward Stewart "leads" his troops to slaughter at Culloden, except he stays behind and buggers off to France afterwards.
- Goggles Do Nothing: "Tell me they do something."
- Hard on Soft Science: "You can't just 'make things up'!"
- Hipsters: They ruin everything. It also demonstrates that hipsters are Older than You Think: historical hipsters, like the Incroyables and Merveilleuses of post-revolutionary France who enrage an aristocratic survivor of the Terror by wearing fancy clothes "ironically" while he does as an act of defiance. The point being that directionless youths have always appropriated things and made them annoying.
- Historical In-Joke: The main point behind most of the comics.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: One strip points out that Dick Turpin doesn't deserve his status as a Folk Hero.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: Used frequently, although Played for Laughs.
- Historical Villain Upgrade:
- Lampshaded. "We have no REAL proof that Richard killed his nephews!"
- Genghis Khan sets the record straight on his own. He does kill all his enemies though. And he's not gonna lie, it's pretty brutal.
- Ho Yay: Invoked.
- Hospital Hottie: "Help me, handsome doctor."
- Hot Witch: It's hard to be sexy inside a pumpkin.
- Hypocritical Humor:Mummy that is not appropriate.You're one to talk.
Damn nutty revolutionaries.
- Charlotte Corday, to Marat's rubber duck:
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Apparently there's something growing in The Secret Garden that makes Mary and Colin very...relaxed.
- Insufferable Genius: Chopin and Liszt.Chopin: Unrelated, we are both on the cover of "Enormous Ego" this week.
Liszt: Only this week?
- Liszt is shown having written a biography on Chopin...the issue with this is shown by how his name and face take up a much larger part of the cover.
- Intimate Open Shirt: Parodied in "'Ooh Mister Darcy', a Fan Fiction". Darcy arrives home and states that "also my shirt opened?" This seems to have happened completely out of nowhere, to the point that Darcy himself seems confused about it, but it leads to him and Elizabeth having sex. And he leaves his cravat on.
- Jerkass: Lord Alfred Douglas.Bosie: I hate my father. Oscar, you must sue him in a mindless case that will lead to your downfall so I can piss him off.Oscar: [adoringly] Okay.
- Kissing Cousins: Spoofed here:Edward the Black Prince: But I want to marry my cousin.Edward III: A man wishes to marry his cousins, this is natural! Yet think of the realm. God, the cousins I could have — but no.
- Loony Fan: Actor Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth) and his fans having a Hamletgasm.
- Loophole Abuse: Chiune Sugihara writing thousands of visas for Jewish refugees fleeing Lithuania, claiming that they're all legitimate tourists.Chiune: Jews—they LOVE Japan, everyone knows that!
- Loveable Rogue: Played straight in Robin Hood, then immediately subverted by Dick Turpin, who doesn't care about the poor.
- Madonna-Whore Complex: Parodied, naturally with the "Body Police"
- Manly Facial Hair: Apparently, at least one objection to Sanford Fleming's proposed system of standardized time zones was inspired by jealousy of Fleming's magnificent beard.
- Memetic Mutation: Referenced In-Universe. "OH MR. [insert character here], A Fanfiction" is spoofed commonly in slash circles, as is "Help Me Handsome Doctor".
- Metaphorgotten: Elizabeth I provides what may be the most incredibly awesome example of this to date.
- Mooning: "Gentlemen, I propose my bottom!"
- Mr. Fanservice: Mr. Darcy, Handsome Doctor, and Sexy Batman.
- Mushroom Samba: In the Secret Garden.
- My Beloved Smother: Wu Zetian.Kate Beaton: I think if Samuel L. Jackson was a woman, Chinese, and alive during the Tang Dynasty, he would be this woman right here.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: The entire point of Dracula.
- My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: Nelson's grandma kisses better than Hardy.
- Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe. James Joyce's letters to Nora Barnacle would give anyone nightmares.
- Nominal Hero: Nick, the narrator of Gatsby, is portrayed as this when he tells his fellow characters that he's an easygoing, nonjudgmental guy who can be friends with assholes like them.
- no punctuation is funnier: More often than not, sentences are left hanging in their bubbles.
- No-Respect Guy: Benedict Arnold can't get anyone to surrender because they don't know who he is.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Because of the Foe Romance Subtext.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Watson's reaction to Stupid Watson.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Katherine Sui Fun Cheng can't tone down that thing where she's cooler than everyone else
- Parental Neglect: Played for Laughs in her The Great Gatsby comics. WHAT BABY.
- Plagiarism in Fiction: "Every Lady Scientist Who Ever Did Anything (until recently)" depicts a simplified version of the real life theft of Rosalind Franklin's research and innovations by male scientists.
- Period Piece, Modern Language: Much of the comic's humor is from the historical figures and fictional characters speaking very casually and humorously. For example, the Brontës react to a mean guy with "Nice" and "I know, right?" or Jules Verne writing to Edgar Allan Poe like a fangirl.
- Politeness Judo: The President makes good use of this when the Canadians invade. "Don't worry. I know their weakness. They can't help themselves."
- Politicians Kiss Babies: Kissing babies gets in the way of Emperor Norton's duties.
- Precision F-Strike: By Mark Antony, of all people.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Joking portrayal of Shakespeare from him likely writing Macbeth to appeal to King James I.Witch: Banquo's sons will be kings, yes.Each one will get handsomer and handsomer until King James I.King James: (starry-eyed) Did that really happen??Shakespeare: Yes.
- Real Dreams are Weirder: This strip. Calpurnia dreams that Caesar is going to be killed on the Ides of March. Caesar dreams about robes made of hot dogs.
- Really Gets Around: Catherine the Great-In-Bed. Who invades Poland by sleeping with all of it.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Parodied with "Strong Female Characters".
- Recurring Character: There are several of them.
- Kate Beaton
- Young Kate Beaton ("Younger Self")
- Napoléon Bonaparte
- Jane Austen
- The fat Shetland pony
- The Founding Fathers
- Saucy Mermaids
- Pope John Paul II
- The Mystery-Solving Teens
- St. Francis
- A Pirate and his British Naval Officer Nemesis
- The Strong Female Characters
- The Canadian Stereotype guys
- Nancy Drew
- Tom Cruise in Top Gun
- The Medieval Peasant Teen Couple
- The Bronte sisters, with Anne Brontë acting as the Only Sane Man
- Rule of Funny: The reason why various historical figures and fictional characters are shown saying/doing things they would never actually say/do.
- Screaming at Squick: In "Anne of Cleves You Are Not The Favorite Wife", Anne shrieks in horror at the sight of her new husband.AAAAUGH! Shit, I mean — ooooh.
- "You should see the garbage you try to pass off as comics!"
- Also inverted.
- Beaton usually portrays her present-self as stocky and sardonic while her "younger" self is always very optimistic; unpredictably, her younger self is almost always disappointed of her present-self.
- Shout-Out: My fossils bring all the boys to the yard and they're like: you still can't join the geological society of London. note
- Shown Their Work: Beaton is a legitimate historian, and her comics reflect that.
- Show Some Leg: The best way to attract Dracula is apparently to show off a bit of cleavage.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Queen Victoria for Albert.
- Sore Loser: Alexander the Great doesn't like to lose at board games, and Alexander Pushkin doesn't like to lose at cat shows.
- Stalker with a Crush: Superman, apparently.
- Straw Feminist:
- Stay in the Kitchen:
Protagonist: Doctor, there's a woman in the wallpaper.
- Regarding "The Yellow Wallpaper", an early work of American feminist literature (and a Gothic horror story):
Doctor: That woman has a feminist agenda. Tell her to get in the wallpaper that's in the kitchen.
- In another strip, a man finds out the book he's reading was written by a woman. He then drops the book and tells a random woman "Shame on you!"
- Stealth Pun: Possibly Stupid Rooster Comics.
- Steampunk: Isambard Kingdom Brunel is not impressed.
- The Stoner: Nellie Dean in Wuthering Heights.Lockwood: Just what is going on around here!Nellie Dean: I'll tell you, sir. Come now, sit down, get comfortable. [hands him a joint] Smoke dis joint. This shit's gonna be a trip
- Stripperiffic: Mocked in this strip, in regards to the often flimsy ways various works try to justify this trope."Where I come from, bullets are important so this bra is part of my culture, you can't judge that!"
- Stylistic Suck: The "Lunch Break Comics" filler, which are just MS Paint doodles Beaton drew on her lunch break.
- Take That!: To The Tudors: "Elizabeth's kingdom will be mine!"
- Take a Third Option: "FUCK IT LET'S DO BOTH"
- Testosterone Poisoning: Lady Macbeth seems to want to invoke this trope.
- The Theme Park Version: Of Vikings.
- This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: He's a bit of a dick too.
- This Means War!: Heathcliff invokes this, but it turns out events have overtaken him a bit.Heathcliff: It's all Hindley's fault that I am dirty and uneducated and that Cathy is tired of me. I SWEAR REVENGE!Nelly: Oh god, Hindley's wife has died and now he has descended into a drunken life of shameHeathcliff: Oh—well, I swear...more revenge. Than that.
- Those Two Guys: The Mystery-Solving Teens.
- Title Drop: In this comic, though it's more likely the website was named after that line. Interestingly, this strip was not contained in the book of the same name.
- Toilet Humor: "Fat Pony" seems to be the outlet for this as shown here.
- Traitor Shot: Richard III, while preparing for party times.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: "Strong Female Character" Susan B. Assthony ends up marrying one.
- The Unfavorite: Anne Brontë of the Brontë sisters, shown in the comic and also Truth in Television.
- Unfortunate Search Results: What happens when Kate responds to a suggestion that she write a comic about the letters James Joyce wrote to his partner Nora Barnacle.
- Unusual Dysphemism: Beaton's dad calls hands "shithooks".
- Verbal Backspace: In "Goldman and Czolgosz."Emma Goldman: Everyone must join the anarchist movement! We can make a difference!
Leon Czolgosz: Can I join?
Emma Goldman: Everyone except creepy losers must join the anarchist movement!
- Viewers Are Geniuses: To an extent. Knowledge of European and North American history certainly helps, as the comic isn't going to explain the characters and events to you, but most of the time the comics are funny even if you don't know the history. (And at any rate, there's always The Other Wiki if you need a refresher... Hell, it's a webcomic, so you must be close to a search engine, right?)
- The Voiceless: The woman of the Medieval Peasant Teen Couple has never spoken.
- Waxing Lyrical: Some of the Founding Fathers go to the mall.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: The terribly earnest Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.Juarez: Why can't you just be a power-hungry despot like any other good European ruler?
- Winged Humanoid: Queen Elizabeth the First, apparently.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: This comic on bad historical movies. As The Rant says, "No one would ever try to shoot a movie in Chaucer-y English like the 4th comic, and if they did they probably wouldn't know their way around the actual grammar if Chaucer himself had a Dummies book explaining it. That shit is hard!"
- You Can Leave Your Cravat On: The (in)famous "Ooh Mr. Darcy" strip.
- Your Answer to Everything: Catherine the Great-In-Bed's is just what you'd expect.Man: Empress, you are blind to corruption in your court because you only care about the dudes you sleep with.Catherine: Then I will sleep with the whole court.Other Man: Empress, Poland is unhappy with Russian rule!Catherine: Then I will sleep with Poland.Disheveled Polish Man: This is one hell of a takeover...
- Your Mom: The "Your Wife" variation — Tycho's rude response to Kepler suggesting the possibility that the sun might orbit around the earth as opposed to him believing in the opposite.Tycho: What if your wife orbits my dick?
- Meanwhile, in a 20 mile radius of this event: BODICES RIPPING; MEN TURNING GAY; IT WAS AMAZING; the end