Daily Archives: December 20, 2012
… Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant.
Just when you thought she was out, she draws you back in!
The accolades really started rolling in last year. In December 2011, the book version of Hark! A Vagrant won a spot in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Fiction books of 2011. Lev Grossman (writer of The Magicians, The Magician King, and Codex) wrote: “… the main point is that they’re hilarious. Whatever else it might be, Hark! A Vagrant is the wittiest book of the year.”
The output for Hark! A Vagrant slowed to a trickle in 2012, though. This was due to Ms. Beaton’s increasing opportunities in the field of publishing following the success of her book. She wrote on her blog:
This is a funny job. Webcomics are often cited as the future of comics and the internet and I don’t know what else, but the fact that no one has retired from them yet means that I, at least, rest a little uneasy in these shoes sometimes if only for the lack of having a dependable compass by which to steer the ship. I just want to make the best decisions I can, so that I will be around longer, making drawings and comics and writing and other things that I hope people will enjoy. I’m not sure what will work out with these opportunities that have come my way, and I guess I can’t really say much about them, but I think I’d be a fool if I didn’t give them a try. So I am going to! Whatever I can let you know, I will.
She’s only posted thirteen strips on her site since that announcement.
And yet … that didn’t stop the accolades from coming. Hark! A Vagrant had already won a Harvey Award in 2011 for Best Online Comics Work and a nomination for Canada’s Shuster Awards in 2009 and 2010. It turns out that that was just a warm-up to 2012. In her most successful awards take yet, Ms. Beaton netted three Harvey Awards: the repeat of Best Online Comics Work, the Special Award for Humor in Comics, and the Best Cartoonist Award.
And if you think jive-talking historical characters are the only source of Ms. Beaton’s appeal, you’d be wrong. The Strong Female Characters sorta gained a modicum of internet infamy. While they were co-created by friends Carly Monardo and Meredith Gran, I’ve most often referred to them as “Kate Beaton’s Strong Female Characters“. The comic would get referenced in some online movie reviews.
The comic would sorta make Ms. Beaton something of the final word on “strong female characters.” She participated in a round of illustrations taking digs at an infamously cheesecake-y Catwoman cover. The mantle of lampooning how women are backbreakingly, twistingly portrayed in mainstream comics continues has nowadays been taken up by The Hawkeye Initiative, a Tumblr that Ms. Beaton is well aware of.
These achievements and more have led the Webcomic Overlook (that is, myself) to name Hark! A Vagrant the 2012 Webcomic of the Year.
“Aeria” is pretty unfortunate name for a fantasy realm. I doesn’t sound too bad at first. It’s got the “aerie” in the name, which is the nest of a hawk, eagle, falcon or other bird of prey. There’s an implication of loftiness and grim (some would say hawkish) determination. Since the world of Aeria is a bunch of islands defying laws of nature and physics by floating in the empty confines of space while somehow retaining an atmosphere, then it’s sort of appropriate, right?
It also sounds like “aria”, the musical composition made popular by Puccini, Mozart, and Bizet. It puts you in the mood for some classical music, an appropriate accompaniment when you’re traipsing around a fantasy world with a team consisting of a mage, a paladin, a thief, and a ranger.
And yet … it feels a tad unimaginative. I’m going to blame it on the fact that “Aeria” also sounds exactly like “area.” “Well, we’re going to start off in north area and journey down to middle area. We’re then going to go to west area so we can catch a ship heading over the sea of area until we reach generic brand islands.”
It’s middle of the read, which incidentally is also how I feel about this comic. Aeria is the title of the land and the name of the manga-style comic written by Fabian Rastorfer, illustrated by Songwut Ouppakarndee, and assisted by Kridsana Rattananen and Tim Harding. The comic is something of an international production. Mr. Rastorfer is from Switzerland (though studying in New York), and Mssrs. Ouppakarndee and Rattananen are from Bangkok, Thailand.
(It’s also alternately known as The Tale of Aeria in the browser header, but since the banner truncates it to the single word title, I’m just gonna go with that.)