Oh my, the nerdiness. Oh so much nerdiness. I LOVE IT.
Hark, A Vagrant is written by Kate Beaton, a history major that worked in a museum. That should say enough about the content of the comic, but I’ll write it anyways. Hark is a arc-less comic, with each comic being based on some historical figure, event, or other thing. For the most part you can understand the humor with a high-school level knowledge of history (if you paid attention in class) but you will definitely need to wiki some of the people or places to understand the full humor. Beaton attempts to explain a bit of it in the notes below the comic, save common people such as Robespierre or Emperor Norton, but others are sometimes left ambiguous when they shouldn’t be. Now, I’m not saying that she needs to hold our hands, oh no. It’s just that you’re going to have to work for your laughs. And they said staying awake in history was lame.
But for those who do get it, it’s freaking hilarious. The new takes on the old world, as well as emphasizing the absurdity of the actual events. Like the prose phrase “Reality is stranger than fiction”, you’ll probably find more humor in simply researching the info than anything else. For example, imagine if you’ve never heard of Robespierre before. Suddenly, you’re introduced to this ultranationalistic, homicidal maniac who rules France for a bloody period of revolution. That’s AWESOME.
As for the art, it’s sketchy but not detremental to the comic. It’s also sometimes used as little silly sketches just for kicks. Beaton will sometimes make “lunch break comics”, quickly drawn nothings that aren’t all that funny, but they are fairly rare. Also, although the majority of the comics are one-plot-per-page, she’ll occasionally release series of short dailies on a spree. Overall, it won’t find it’s way onto the Louvre’s wall but it’s still pretty good. Better than any crap I could ever do, heh. Although I must applaud her ability to do caricatures, the faces look very much like the real people, which is not a simple task.
I really can’t do it justice. It’s just one of those things.
At any rate, if you enjoy history in any shape or form, then you will probably like Hark, A Vagrant! as well.