Friday, February 5, 2016

Graphic Novel: Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton

I couldn't read Kate Beaton's first collection of comics, Hark! A Vagrant, and not read her follow-up, Step Aside, Pops, which was published in early fall of 2015. I looked forward to more fun with historical figures and classic book covers, while maybe learning a few things at the same time.

Genre, Themes, History: Once again, this book isn't really a graphic novel as it doesn't really tell a story. Instead it is more of a collection of comics that poke fun at historical figures; summarize classic works of literature into funny and short comic strips; interpret book covers and broadside pictures into hilarious and ridiculous premises, and occasionally make fun of the modern day feminist. Once again, Beaton has something for both the history buff and and the lover of classic literature. And at the introduction of almost every new section, Beaton offers up a short explanation (or the occasional apology) for what she is trying to do, or the piece of literature, or historical figure she is attempting to have us laugh at. Since her first collection was published in 2011, Beaton has continued to successfully make readers chuckle as she portrays Benjamin Franklin as the good time party guy while Thomas Jefferson and John Adams take things way too seriously. This collection even includes a section of comic strips making fun of "strong female characters" that are really just wearing too little clothing and using only their powers of attraction as their main line of defense. And of course, there is once again plenty of material making fun of Beaton's native land of Canada.

My Verdict: I can't say I had as good a time reading this collection as I did Hark! A Vagrant, but I still had a pretty damned good time. There was still plenty of laughing out loud inappropriately while sitting in a very public coffee shop, and I was thrilled to no end to see that Beaton continued interpreting book covers, which was my favorite section of her previous collection. The author is showing no signs of slowing down, and apparently the history books still have plenty of material for her to work with as she keeps turning out comics depicting Benjamin Franklin as a little wild, and John Adams as more than a little uptight. Just like its predecessor, Step Aside, Pops is worth picking up and can be read on a short plane ride. I recommend getting both collections together and just having them out on the coffee table.

Favorite Comics: This time I have a clear winner in the (partial) retelling of Wuthering Heights. Having struggled through the book myself I could relate to every ridiculous thing about it that Beaton takes the time to point out. I really liked the book, but can understand why some people don't care for it, and the issues that Beaton points out make me believe she feels that same way. 

Recommended Reading: Well now I feel like I have to at least recommend Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. But since it isn't a comedy, like at all, I will also recommend Christopher Moore's The Serpent of Venice, a book that takes two of Shakespeare's plays, one comedy and one tragedy, and fuses them together in a humorous way. 

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