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The AV Club on Kate Beaton, webcomics

How do you know webcomics are gaining ground on their direct market brethren? When the print versions of popular webcomics are starting to pop up with reliable frequency in the AV Club’s comic round-up. In the June 12 version, they have a review of Kate Beaton’s “Never Learn Anything From History,” as well as a bit of commentary on webcomics as a whole:

Webcomics have been a seriously mixed bag since their inception, and for every Achewood, there are two dozen shabbily drawn, incoherently written strips about videogames or anime. That’s why it’s all the more impressive when a talent like Kate Beaton emerges. The young Canadian artist has turned a history degree into a non-stop laffs-generating machine, as her book Never Learn Anything From History (TopatoCo) illustrates; the great leaders, military figures, artists, and philosophers of the past are her usual subjects, but they’re usually portrayed as consumed by petty ego and expressing themselves in the freewheeling, dismissive argot of snotty adolescents. Add to that a keen sense of the absurd (in her footnotes, Beaton herself cannot explain why a weeping Napoleon stuffing his face with cookies while Josephine carries on a wild affair is so damn funny, but it is) and you’ve got a book full of comics that are generally hilarious even for those who don’t fully recall the history behind the stories. Beaton’s art is likewise impressive; her neat linework and terrific grasp of simple caricature and facial expression sells a lot of the best strips, including Sasaki Kojiro meeting an undignified end, Jane Austen and Nikola Tesla being pestered by their fans, and Lord Byron muttering “Bitches, man” to a grieving Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her occasional non-historical comics (featuring mermaids, Tintin, and an evil Shetland pony) are likewise winners, and if American audiences don’t quite get the jokes behind her strips about Stompin’ Tom Connors, Newfoundland, and John G. Diefenbaker, at least they might learn something about Canada from reading them… A-

Posted in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics Tagged: Kate Beaton