23848561If you are already familiar with Kate Beaton’s humor, then you know what you will find in her new book Step Aside, Pops. If you have no idea who she is, then you are in for a treat. Beaton’s drawings may appear to be simple ink drawings, but her style is quirky and fun. As for her humor, it is not just focused on one topic or theme: Beaton pokes fun at almost everything, from old greeting cards, to classic literature, to obscure and notable moments in history. In the book’s introduction, Beaton explains how her webcomic Hark! A Vagrant (of which Step Aside, Pops! is a collection) is a mixture of parodies on different topics, usually based on what she is reading at the time and what she finds interesting. To sum it up, you never know what to expect and that makes the series great.

Beaton’s cartoons are drawn in pencil, using brush pens for her lines and shaded with watercolors and grey-scale markers. Depending upon the topic, her strips may consist of three or more scenes with word bubbles placed wherever they fit. It may sound like a simple art technique, but Beaton knows how to use it. She is able to create emotions for each character and scene by giving her characters notable facial expressions and body movements, allowing them to perform, usually out of their society’s norms. These expressions and movements are important to her work because they bring the humor out into the forefront. Beaton’s characters can and will act extraordinarily, but that just makes it more interesting.

Beaton’s topics truly are all over the place. One comic may feature George Washington and James Madison shopping at the mall, confused about the existence of the Burger King, while the next one parodies the classic novel Wuthering Heights and the crazed nature of its main characters, Heathcliff and Catherine. Beaton’s comics also consist of parodies of old greeting cards, magazine cartoons from the early 1900s, and classic book covers, such as Nancy Drew. She likes to draw attention to either the absurdity of the prints or the supposed interactions between the characters shown.

Now, who would enjoy these little cartoons? Well, anyone who enjoys a comic parody would want to pick this up, especially existing fans of Beaton’s work. Adults and college students would particularly enjoy this collection, especially history buffs who enjoy little jabs at historical figures and English majors who enjoy reading the classics. The only downside to point out would be the humor itself: Depending upon the topic and the reader’s knowledge, some may not understand it.

Step Aside, Pops is an out-of-the-ordinary comic collection, but that’s what makes it entertaining. Even if you do not usually read comics, the style and humor will make you smile. Beaton is capable of using her simplistic style effectively to create her own comedic work for anyone to enjoy.

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection
by Kate Beaton
ISBN: 9781770462083
Drawn and Quarterly, 2015

  • Gloria

    | She/Her Children's Librarian, Elmont Memorial Library

    Gloria is a full-time children’s librarian at the Elmont Memorial Library in Long Island, New York where she runs a monthly STEAM program, a graphic novel book club, and storytime for preschoolers. During her free time, she is found reading anything and everything from the classics, to poetry, to the newest best seller. Her other interests include writing, online games, exploring new areas in her home state, and spending time with friends, family, and colleagues. She has also written articles and reviews for the website Cosplay, Comics, and Geek Culture in Libraries and on her personal Goodreads page.

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