Kate Beaton’s first collection of Hark! A Vagrant comics gave us bizarro world takes on Tesla, Susan B. Anthony, Lord Byron, Batman, and my favorite, Open Mic Night at the French Revolution. Her new collection, gleefully titled Step Aside, Pops, gives us the Founding Fathers at the mall, Tennyson, Greek mythology, Ida B. Wells, Jane Austen remixes, the Beatniks, Cinderella, a burned-out Wonder Woman, and so much more.
The laugh-out-loud quotient is high in Step Aside. I especially love when Beaton finds old broadsides or book covers and turns them into the basis for little oddball scenes. Like this one from the “Broadside Ballads” collection (the ghost’s doofus face gets me every time):
Or this one from the Nancy Drew covers:
It occurs to me now that comics are essentially storyboarded Vines—or rather, that Vines are like comics in motion, bite-sized stories that in a flash express an idea or illustrate a scene that in prose would probably fall flat. And in the above examples, the punchline in the final frames are purely visual, and the better for it.