I judged this book by it's cover. With the combination of the title and the look on this comic woman's face, I knew this book would provide some entertainment. Having no prior knowledge of Kate Beaton or her blog Hark! A Vagrant, I casually flipped through this book of collected comic strips with an open mind. The cover art and title is in reference to a comic about when bicycles were first invented, it was shocking and inappropriate for women to be seen riding one. Well, this bad lady "velocipedestrienne" ain't stopping for no one! Yeah girl!
Step Aside, Pops is the second book of comics produced by Beaton, the first having the namesake of the blog, Hark, A Vagrant! A warning to those thinking a book in a comic style means it is appropriate for children: this book contains adult content and language (but it's so worth it).
In this collection, Beaton retells the tales of some obscure and not so obscure figures in history in her simple comic style and hilarious expressions. Some references familiar like Lois Lane and Clark Kent, Lois being a hardworking reporter and Clark being a narcissistic, havoc-causing nuisance. Or the founding fathers (Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington) having misadventures at amusement parks and malls. Or alternate endings to Nancy Drew novels.
I can just picture the author daydreaming up these alternate, satirical scenarios while reading a classic work of literature or a history book in class (as I'm sure we've all done). Kate Beaton majored in History and was working at a museum when she started drawing comics in her free time. She is also the author of the children's book The Princess and the Pony. For more modern parody of classic literature try Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg. For more comics mixed with non-fiction try What If? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe.
Review by Stevie Z.