Thursday, 15 January 2015

New from Kate Beaton in 2015: 'Step Aside, Pops' and 'The Princess and the Pony'


The LA Times announced some pretty damn exciting news on Tuesday: Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing a new comics collection from the excellent Kate Beaton this September. Step Aside, Pops will collate a selection of Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant strips from her site and 2011 book of the same name, in addition to the inclusion of newer material. If you're wondering about the title, it's named after Beaton’s cartoon featuring a feisty velocipedestrienne, which you can read here. Beaton's a brilliant, hugely popular cartoonist, but she's taken taken a very careful and considered approach after the success of Hark! A Vagrant, which spent 5 months on the New York Times bestseller's list and was received to great critical acclaim. Another collection of her smart and witty, unique-spin-on-history/literature comics in the meantime seems like a no-brainer; I'm certainly not the only person more than happy to be able to have all of her work in print and on my bookshelf. So this is genuinely very good news for all. That's a super cover as well- the blue and brown, but simply the illustration by Beaton which is so effective- the expression on the lady's face, the eyebrows, the folded arms, the legs, all imbue it with humour and attitude, and that's precisely where a large part of Beaton's ability lies- the ability to imbue all that in her comics, to have that coupled with her writing and concepts.

I know I said Beaton has been taking her time to consider what her next project will be, and while that's true, she has been working away on something: a children's picture book. Before Step Aside, Pops releases in September, Scholastic will be publishing her The Princess and the Pony this June. As you know I'm a massive fan of picture books- the genre being home to a lot of interesting and incredibly good illustration work- and as a Beaton fan also, this is firmly pencilled in on my 'things to buy' list. The Princess and the Pony features another one of Beaton's memorable characters; this time one who has sort of taken on a life of its own- Fat Pony. Fat Pony began life as a silent side character but was too cute for his own good and now has to work at being the star of his own book. Having been the subject of his own dedicated mugs and t-shirts, and appeared in Adventure Time I think he's probably ready for the job. The Princess and the Pony is a 40-page hardback (I'm guessing colour) story of Princess Pinecone who knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year: a big, strong horse, a horse for a warrior princess. But when the day arrives, she doesn’t quite get the horse she expected... Be honest: that sounds perfect- just look at Fat Pony's little legs and big eyes and tell me this isn't going to be amazing. So yes, two Kate Beaton books in 2015 (so far) to look forward to is splendid news- it's certainly perked my January up considerably.