"I was told I make intelligent comics, and then I made a comic about a horse that pooped."
Hark! A Vagrant is a largely history-based Web Comic by Kate Beaton best known for its historical comics, which are one-shots of varying length focusing on historical events or figures. There are occasionally other kinds of comics, including one-shots of varying length focusing on literary works or characters, comics in which Beaton visits her younger self, a few comics about a pony called "Fat Pony", and a story about a sailor who meets a mermaid. There is little continuity and almost every comic is a standalone strip (the ones that aren't are obvious; they share a name and are numbered). Also, rather than use Alt Text, Beaton usually accompanies each comic with a short paragraph.
The strip ran for 403 instalments, with instalment 404 a thank-you message beginning "Hark! A Vagrant, such as it is, is an archive website now."
- Adaptation Decay: Not of the comic itself, but Beaton has a pretty good theory for how this happened to Dr. Watson.
- Adipose Rex: "George IV, You Are Too Fat To Be King."
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Satirized using two of the authors who popularized the trope.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Played for Laughs In-Universe.
- Marat spends all his time in the tub because he really likes baths.
"Sometimes? I pretend to be Neptune."
- Also, her Nancy Drew comics. Essentially, she takes the covers to old books in the series and comes up with... alternate explanations for the scenes shown. Other characters are often shown worrying about Nancy's mental health.
- Lois Lane, Reporter.
- Beaton's interpretation of Wonder Woman is somewhat unconventional.
- Sexy Batman definitely qualifies.
- America Wins the War: Apparently it's kind of surreal for Beaton (a Canadian) when she watches WWII movies.
- Anachronism Stew: Lampshaded here.
- Antiquated Linguistics: Consistently averted. No matter what time period the comic is set in, all characters use modern English (except in the strip namer comic, with Kate and the vagrant - which is set in the modern day).
- Anything That Moves:
- Lord Byron seems to have moved beyond even this:
"OK so, try to find a place here that I haven't put my penis in. It's not easy."
- Apologizes a Lot: Canadians.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Beaton's version of Macbeth's reaction to the witches' prophecy:
Banquo: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
- Art Evolution: Compare the first posted comic to one from 2012.
- Author Avatar: In the "younger self" comics.
- Badass: Queen Elizabeth I. This may not be a great thing for Spain.
- Beige Prose: Very frequently, sometimes averted.
- Black Comedy: Historical events and personages are depicted in a comedic manner, even the darker, more terrifying ones. To be fair, Kate Beaton does it well.
- Brain Bleach: "Get away from me James Joyce." Why Kate doesn't do Valentines comics any more.
- Call Back: "Janice", one of the skulls from Nancy Drew 2, returns in Nancy Drew 4 to lead Nancy on a wild goose chase.
- Cat Up a Tree: Here. And Wonder Woman is supposed to rescue it. Hilarity Ensues.
- Canada, Eh?: Canadian stereotypes comics. Sorry.
- Celibate Hero: Tesla, the Celibate Scientist.
- Cluster F-Bomb: A good deal of the Mystery-Solving Teens' dialogue.
- Cool Old Guy: Pope John Paul II.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A humourous portrayal of Musashi in his duel against Kojiro, being late and using an oar because he forgot his sword ("You can't expect me to remember everything!"), while Kojiro is annoyed because there were only two things they needed for their duel - Dudes and Swords. Kate Beaton notes he actually carved the oar into a sword intentionally, but it was funnier this way. Kojiro is naturally annoyed at losing to such a person.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Banquo in strip #2.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The dark-haired Mystery Solving Teen loves his grandma.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Meanwhile in a 20 mile radius of this event: Bodices ripping, men turning gay.
- Fanfic: "You are not a very good monk."
- Foe Yay:
- Funetik Aksent: "L'Anse Aux Meadows" does this with the stereotypical Newfoundland accent.
- Goggles Do Nothing: "Tell me they do something."
- Good-Looking Privates: Parodied in some World War II comics.
- Hard on Soft Science: "You can't just 'make things up'!"
- Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe. James Joyce's letters to Nora Barnacle would give anyone nightmares.
- Hipsters: They ruin everything. It also demonstrates that hipsters are Older Than You Think.
- Historical In-Joke: The main point behind most of the comics.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: Used frequently, although Played for Laughs.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Lampshaded. "We have no REAL proof that Richard killed his nephews!"
- Ho Yay:
- Hospital Hottie: Help me, handsome doctor.
- Hypocritical Humor: Victorians.
- Insufferable Genius: Chopin and Liszt.
Chopin: Unrelated, we are both on the cover of "Enormous Ego" this week.
- Loveable Rogue: Played straight in Robin Hood, then immediately subverted by Dick Turpin, who doesn't care about the poor.
- Memetic Mutation: Referenced In-Universe. "OH MR. [insert character here, A Fanfiction"] is spoofed commonly in slash circles, as is "Help Me Handsome Doctor".
- Memetic Sex God: Mister Darcy, In-Universe.
- Metaphorgotten: Elizabeth I provides what may be the most incredibly awesome example of this to date.
- Mukokuseki: A rare non-anime example in Beaton's portrayal of Miyamoto Musashi.
- My Beloved Smother: Wu Zetian.
Kate Beaton: I think if Samuel L. Jackson was a woman, Chinese, and alive during the Tang Dynasty, he would be this woman right here.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: The entire point of Dracula.
- My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: Nelson's grandma kisses better than Hardy.
- No Punctuation Is Funnier
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Because of the Foe Yay.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Watson's reaction to Stupid Watson.
- Overly Long Title: In a Take That to Pride and Prejudice And Zombies and the rest of its ilk: Sense and Sensibility and Mister Darcy and Sharks In Space Riding Motorcycles Plus There Is a Time Machine. Jane Austen is not impressed.
- Over-the-Shoulder Pose: The strong female characters take this as a challenge.
- Politeness Judo: "Don't worry. I know their weakness. They can't help themselves."
- Precision F-Strike: By Marc Antony, of all people.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Joking portrayal of Shakespeare from him likely writing Macbeth to appeal to King James I.
Witch: Banquo's sons will be kings, yes
- Real Dreams Are Weirder: This strip. Calpurnia dreams that Caesar is going to be killed on the Ides of March. Caesar dreams about robes made of hot dogs.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Parodied with "Strong Female Characters".
- Recurring Character: There are several of them.
- Rule of Funny: The reason why various historical figures and fictional characters are shown saying/doing things they would never actually say/do.
- Schedule Slip: The site has been going slowly since Beaton started work on the Hark! A Vagrant book and other projects. She still periodically posts quick doodles on her Tumblr, though.
- Seashell Bra
- Shown Their Work: Beaton is a legitimate historian, and her comics reflect that.
- Show Some Cleavage: The best way to attract Dracula, apparently.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Queen Victoria for Albert.
- Stalker with a Crush: Superman, apparently.
- Straw Feminist: The Strong Female characters.
- Stay in the Kitchen:
- Regarding "The Yellow Wallpaper", an early work of American feminist literature (and a Gothic horror story):
Protagonist: Doctor, there's a woman in the wallpaper.
- In another strip, a man finds out the book he's reading was written by a woman. He then drops the book and tells a random woman "Shame on you!"
- Stealth Pun: Possibly Stupid Rooster Comics.
- Steampunk: Isambard Kingdom Brunel is not impressed.
- Stripperiffic: "Where I come from, bullets are important so this bra is part of my culture, you can't judge that!"
- Take a Third Option: "FUCK IT LET'S DO BOTH"
- Take That: To The Tudors: "Elizabeth's kingdom will be mine!"
- Testosterone Poisoning: Lady Macbeth seems to want to invoke this trope.
- This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman: He's a bit of a dick too. What does "defender of the seas" mean, really?
- Title Drop: In this comic, though it's more likely the website was named after that line. Interestingly, this strip was not contained in the book of the same name.
- Those Two Guys: The Mystery-Solving Teens.
- Traitor Shot: Richard III, while preparing for party times.
- The Unfavorite: Anne Bronte of the Bronte sisters, shown in the comic and also Truth in Television.
- Unusual Euphemism: Beaton's dad calls hands "shithooks".
- Viewers Are Geniuses: To an extent. Knowledge of European and North American history certainly helps, as the comic isn't going to explain the characters and events to you, but most of the time the comics are funny even if you don't know the history. (And at any rate, there's always The Other Wiki if you need a refresher... Hell, it's a webcomic, so you must be close to a search engine, right?)
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- Your Mom: The "Your Wife" variation -- Tycho's rude response to Kepler suggesting the possibility that the sun might orbit around the earth as opposed to him believing in the opposite.