In her webcomic, “Hark, a vagrant!” artist Kate Beaton uses a unique style of both art and content to create one of the most popular online comic strips today. Her simple art style consisting only of pen over pencil sketches, nevertheless show emotion and depth of characters throughout. Each webcomic is a different historical, literary, or pop culture reference. I want to discuss her contributions and influence to webcomics as a whole, as well as her style and her website layout.
Beaton uses her degree in history to give a humorous perspective on all of these things. She often combines modern ideas and pop culture within the historical or literary situation to add a layer unique to her style. It allows access to even those readers who are not history nerds, or are perhaps simply don’t “get” the particular reference.
Her website does not have any particular defining features, other than that it is completely devoid of color. With a simple black and white layout, as well as black and white comics, Beaton shows a clean and homely sort of layout that allows the reader’s eye to be completely drawn to the comic and nothing else. She has no advertisements or other distractions near her comics, but rather has them beneath the comic next to her commentary. Readers can look through her archives or simply click “random” comics. She updates the website at convenience, and has links to her tumblr and twitter for those willing to keep up with her work. She also sells products and has even expanded her art to physical books.
Her layouts vary in each entry. Oftentimes, she will have multiple strips pertaining to one subject. An example of this can be found here, in a comic about the novel Dracula. Another entry style is several comic strips, usually of about three panels, similar to the previous example, but all pertaining to different individual jokes. Then, multiple strips that tell one story, often with recurring characters such as the shetland pony, here).
In conclusion, there is no one set way to do a webcomic, and Beaton shows that you don’t have to have a set style or schedule in order to run a successful webcomic. Kate Beaton is one of the most well-known webcomic artists of today, and her website isn’t fancy, or expensive looking, and her art is simple and amusing and accessible.