Kendal Calling: An Interview with Kate Beaton, creator of “Hark, A Vagrant”

Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton

Last year, in partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, downthetubes brought you a number of interviews with creators attending the event – and we’re delighted to be able to run a series in the run up to their eagerly anticipated 2015 event in October, continuing the series with an interview with acclaimed Canadian artist Kate Beaton.

Kate is a comic artist who made a name for herself finding humour in historical subjects with her series Hark! A Vagrant, but she makes comics about anything from pop culture to literature to autobiography. 
She came into the comics scene in 2007 and refuses to leave.

downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Kate Beaton: Right now I am actually contract free for the first time in three years!  I am delighted not to be working on anything with a deadline.  I’m sure that the fear of god will come in a few weeks and I’ll get to work on something, but for now, I’m just touring my books.

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Kate: Step Aside Pops is available from Jonathan Cape in the UK!  Just about anywhere I guess?

Kate Beaton’s Step Aaside, Pops

downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Kate: I wish I did.  I get up and hope for the best.

downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Kate: The best is that I get to do something I care about.  Not everyone gets to do that, and even if they work at something they care about, they may not get to be in charge.  I do.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Kate: Sometimes I look at the 9-5’ers and how they can leave work and they really get to leave work!  They get to turn off, tune out, have their life to themselves.  I feel like I am always at work, even when I am not.

Kate Beaton - Lois Lane

downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Kate: Stupid links on facebook I shouldn’t read anyway.  That’s everyone though right?

downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Kate: I think it is easier, but then I am new-ish to comics myself, my first published book was in 2011.  It’s hard for me to qualify now against the past.

A page from "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Beaton
A page from “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Beaton

downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?

Kate: No I haven’t!!  I’m so excited!  I am reading The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, and if it isn’t as charming and lovely as that I’m going to be very disappointed.

downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Kate: I’d like to meet Warren Ellis one day. A long long time ago, he was the first “big name” in comics who linked to mine, and he really started the ball rolling for me with that small gesture. It was really nice.

Beaton-Velocipedestrienne

downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?

Kate: I think that they make the audience real for the creator, which is valuable.  These people you owe a career to, but never see.  And I think that they make your work real to publishers too, who want to know what is up and coming.

downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Kate: Make work that is yours, hone your original voice and style. Be as original as you can, which means as true to your own voice as you can.

downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Kate: I am enjoying Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, and Wicked + Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie!  They are at all the comic stores.

Downthetubes: Kate, thank you for your time, and we hope you enjoy your visit to the Lakes.

Kate Beaton - Self PortraitFind out more about Kate Beaton:

Web: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/kate-beaton
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beatonna


Events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival featuring Kate Beaton:

Step Aside Pops: The Art of Kate Beaton
Saturday 17th October  12.30-1.30 pm  Shakespeare Centre  Tickets £8
FIND OUT MORE AND BOOK TICKETS

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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