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Never Learn Anything From History

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A collection of historical comics by webcomics artist Kate Beaton. First pressing, limited to 1000. From publisher Topatoco.com: "When Kate Beaton was first asked to make a book, she said "ok, but I only have about five comics on my website, gimme a while." Now the time has come! This is a collection of comics made between late 2007 and early 2009. It is 68 pages of the ones A collection of historical comics by webcomics artist Kate Beaton. First pressing, limited to 1000. From publisher Topatoco.com: "When Kate Beaton was first asked to make a book, she said "ok, but I only have about five comics on my website, gimme a while." Now the time has come! This is a collection of comics made between late 2007 and early 2009. It is 68 pages of the ones she likes the best! It should be noted that younger self comics aren't there, but perhaps they will have a home all their own someday!"


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A collection of historical comics by webcomics artist Kate Beaton. First pressing, limited to 1000. From publisher Topatoco.com: "When Kate Beaton was first asked to make a book, she said "ok, but I only have about five comics on my website, gimme a while." Now the time has come! This is a collection of comics made between late 2007 and early 2009. It is 68 pages of the ones A collection of historical comics by webcomics artist Kate Beaton. First pressing, limited to 1000. From publisher Topatoco.com: "When Kate Beaton was first asked to make a book, she said "ok, but I only have about five comics on my website, gimme a while." Now the time has come! This is a collection of comics made between late 2007 and early 2009. It is 68 pages of the ones she likes the best! It should be noted that younger self comics aren't there, but perhaps they will have a home all their own someday!"

30 review for Never Learn Anything From History

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    The only reason this isn't getting five stars is that this is Beaton's first collection and she's gotten even funnier (i.e. better) since this collection came out. If you don't read Hark, a Vagrant you should be. What's to love? Beaton makes history funny without dumbing down the history. (Which isn't to say there's no dumb humor in the book. There's a lot of dumb humor. But it's *smart* dumb.) Beaton draws in the casual, scribbly style of Norton Juster or Lauren Child. Not enough cartoonists The only reason this isn't getting five stars is that this is Beaton's first collection and she's gotten even funnier (i.e. better) since this collection came out. If you don't read Hark, a Vagrant you should be. What's to love? Beaton makes history funny without dumbing down the history. (Which isn't to say there's no dumb humor in the book. There's a lot of dumb humor. But it's *smart* dumb.) Beaton draws in the casual, scribbly style of Norton Juster or Lauren Child. Not enough cartoonists draw that way for my tastes. And you'll laugh. If Napoleon eating cookies doesn't get you, Tesla's bloomer-throwing groupies just might do the trick.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jorn

    Kate Beaton's history comics make me want to build a time machine.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    I laughed quite heartily at the comics I understood, and still enjoyed the gist of the ones I didn't. And, my god - can this woman ever draw FAT PONIES!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Kate Beaton writes lovely little comics. Her sense of humor is deliciously wicked, right up my alley. However, history is one of my weak suits, so I didn't fully understand a majority of the jokes in this tome. Those I did understand were hilarious, especially the ones relating to Catholicism and religion in general. There are a few strips in particular I want to look up and send to friends and family. Many thanks to Lyndsey for letting me borrow the book. I'm ready to return it now (and working Kate Beaton writes lovely little comics. Her sense of humor is deliciously wicked, right up my alley. However, history is one of my weak suits, so I didn't fully understand a majority of the jokes in this tome. Those I did understand were hilarious, especially the ones relating to Catholicism and religion in general. There are a few strips in particular I want to look up and send to friends and family. Many thanks to Lyndsey for letting me borrow the book. I'm ready to return it now (and working on the others this week).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Christmas present. I love Kate Beaton's work all out of proportion. Recommend for people who enjoy comics, history, and/or literature.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

    Outstanding, as usual, Too short! as is often the feeling when finishing any entertaining tour of history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

    Kate Beaton should be required reading. There I said it. Not for comic book fans, or history aficionados, or hipsters. For everyone. Everyone should read Kate Beaton. Sister is just that good. The perfect place to start would of course be her book Hark! A Vagrant! which was released some years back. Probably less on people's radar is this book of hers called Never Learn Anything From History which chronicles some of her earlier comics. Beaton's characteristic witty humor is still as present as Kate Beaton should be required reading. There I said it. Not for comic book fans, or history aficionados, or hipsters. For everyone. Everyone should read Kate Beaton. Sister is just that good. The perfect place to start would of course be her book Hark! A Vagrant! which was released some years back. Probably less on people's radar is this book of hers called Never Learn Anything From History which chronicles some of her earlier comics. Beaton's characteristic witty humor is still as present as ever as she narrates and reinvents the situations and conversations that have taken place at different times in history. And if history is written by the victors, embellishing their lives, Beaton instead cuts them down–way down– to size. So every strip and panel in Never Learn Anything From History is hilarious to the point of genius. Most interesting is how Beaton's art has progressed in recent years. And even though it's impossible for her to draw a bad panel now, this collection has some of her much more unpolished stuff. Her lettering is fast and at times undecipherable, uncleaned corrections are present, and panels are skewed. It's all very charming and "punk" looking, whatever that means. Another interesting aspect of this book is how it still includes some of her autobiographical comics and her undying thirst for history and jokes. It's really the whole package, and as always it's vital.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Wright

    Aw yiss! What's not to love about Beaton's work? The perfect blend of smart and silly. Her seemingly random humor is rooted in satirical yet affectionate and dead-on depictions of famous (and Canadian) historical figures. And her charming art style is the perfect extension of those comedic sensibilities. Her drawings are carefree and subtle at the same time. The likenesses are uncanny and the vivid facial expressions really bring these historical figures to life. Yet the overall effect is one of Aw yiss! What's not to love about Beaton's work? The perfect blend of smart and silly. Her seemingly random humor is rooted in satirical yet affectionate and dead-on depictions of famous (and Canadian) historical figures. And her charming art style is the perfect extension of those comedic sensibilities. Her drawings are carefree and subtle at the same time. The likenesses are uncanny and the vivid facial expressions really bring these historical figures to life. Yet the overall effect is one of extemporaneous ease. She seems to be playing fast and loose with history, but with the wit, skill, and assurance of someone who really knows their stuff. It's also a well-designed book and I like the thick paper. Although, I think that was just used to disguise the fact that the book is so short. This volume, while frequently hilarious, collects some of Beaton's earliest work, and thankfully, she just kept getting better. For newcomers, I'd suggest starting with Hark! A Vagrant and then picking up this one while climbing the walls waiting for Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection to come out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Whitby Syme

    For the uninitiated, Kate Beaton is a cartoonist and history/literature enthusiast who incorporates said enthusiasms in her work to great comedic effect. I don't get all the references, but when a comic strip is funny *and* makes you want to learn more about Tadeusz Kosciuszko it is absolutely doing something right. Some things even. One of the real strengths of Beaton's work is the expressions she captures. Check out Robin Hood in this strip: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... and check out For the uninitiated, Kate Beaton is a cartoonist and history/literature enthusiast who incorporates said enthusiasms in her work to great comedic effect. I don't get all the references, but when a comic strip is funny *and* makes you want to learn more about Tadeusz Kosciuszko it is absolutely doing something right. Some things even. One of the real strengths of Beaton's work is the expressions she captures. Check out Robin Hood in this strip: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... and check out everyone in every panel in this one: (Note - she is Canadian) http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... Also Top Gun: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... And Jane Austen: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... And Padraig Pearse and James Connolly: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php... Awesome.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joanie

    I can't see how this won't appeal to everyone! Whether you're a history buff, or an ordinary Canadian with some knowledge leftover from school like me, or even someone unfamiliar with Canadian (and other) history, you will laugh at these comics. I found myself guffawing at mere facial expressions before I even began to read the speech bubbles. As an added bonus, I do want to find out more about certain subjects to better appreciate the jokes. The quality of the comics is high, but the final I can't see how this won't appeal to everyone! Whether you're a history buff, or an ordinary Canadian with some knowledge leftover from school like me, or even someone unfamiliar with Canadian (and other) history, you will laugh at these comics. I found myself guffawing at mere facial expressions before I even began to read the speech bubbles. As an added bonus, I do want to find out more about certain subjects to better appreciate the jokes. The quality of the comics is high, but the final compilation does require better editing. I did spot a few typos in the commentary but I can't bring myself to give this any less than 5 stars. If you find this collection too small, have no fear, Kate Beaton's got a website with tons more to chuckle at: http://www.harkavagrant.com.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Kate Beaton. Say no more. She seems to be a hit these days with the web-savvy crowd and I find that to be well deserved and most excellent turn of events for the young comic maker. The most important thing is that she makes wonderful comics about history, with the occasional personal tid-bit thrown in for fun (these are only online for the moment though). I've been reading her comics and blog for some crazy number of years now (originally linked over from A Softer World) and couldnt be happier Kate Beaton. Say no more. She seems to be a hit these days with the web-savvy crowd and I find that to be well deserved and most excellent turn of events for the young comic maker. The most important thing is that she makes wonderful comics about history, with the occasional personal tid-bit thrown in for fun (these are only online for the moment though). I've been reading her comics and blog for some crazy number of years now (originally linked over from A Softer World) and couldn’t be happier to see her prosper as an artist. I hope she continues to make comics for our insatiable public eyes for many more years.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ken-ichi

    So awesome. I laughed pretty much all the way home from the Alternative Press Expo, where I bought a copy from the author herself! Even got a signature with a pic of Emperor Norton. Score. If you like hilarity and you like history, you need to stop reading this and visit http://harkavagrant.com . If anything there makes you laugh even a little, you should buy this book and other Hark! stuff.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rich Barrett

    Kate Beaton is the smartest and funniest cartoonist to come onto the scene in years. This first collection of her work is some of her earlier history and literature based cartoons. I think both her cartooning and her sense of humor has exploded since the strips that appear here so this collection is a little spotty. But maybe the ones I didn't find that funny just went over my head. The more familiar you are with her subjects the more brilliant these are and she doesn't stoop down to explaining Kate Beaton is the smartest and funniest cartoonist to come onto the scene in years. This first collection of her work is some of her earlier history and literature based cartoons. I think both her cartooning and her sense of humor has exploded since the strips that appear here so this collection is a little spotty. But maybe the ones I didn't find that funny just went over my head. The more familiar you are with her subjects the more brilliant these are and she doesn't stoop down to explaining every little joke.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    For Christmas this year I received two (two!!) Kate Beaton books. I've talked about Step Aside, Pops before, but never about this! Never Learn Anything From History is a little less polished than Beaton's other books. It looks self-published (not that this is a bad thing). However, it contains some of my Very Favorite comics (Fat Pony! The Sleepy Hollow joke! Joshua Norton! The Tintin joke!) and is really just funny and adorable and wonderful. A+ as usual, Kate Beaton, how do you do it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Northrup

    I don't know why it took me so long to warm to this webcomic. Friends kept forwarding me the wrong ones at the wrong time, I guess. But now it's one of my favorites. And I don't even know that much about history (or Canada). The quirky snark works regardless, plus you end up learning new things. She's a history major who works in a museum, so the scenarios are fact-based, if never the dialog. And the art itself can be just hilarious.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    A friend of mine bought me this, and admittedly, I had never even heard of Kate Beaton's work. However, she writes comics about odd occurrences in history, supports Canadian history and humor, and then includes things like Tin Tin and ugly ponies. If you wish to check out here work, go to her official website: http://harkavagrant.com/index.php But yes, if you love history or Canadian humor, this is an amazing and laugh-out-loud read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christiana

    Do you like "Hark! A Vagrant!"? Then you will like Never Learn Anything From History . It pretty much is Beaton's greatest hits from 2007-2009. My favorites: Jane Austen comics, Percy and Mary Shelley comics, anything to do with the Pope (I like the old Pope better too, Kate!). I made my sister read the one with Pope John Paul II in the middle of her grad school homework because it was just TOO GOOD TO NOT SHARE.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    If I'm rating the quality of the comics of Kate Beaton as they appear on the Internet well then 5. The quality of this book as an artifact is closer to a 2. I don't know, maybe a 3. It probably only seems like a 2 because of the 'Internet 5' thing. It's really just poorly executed, feels thrown-together. I mean, it probably was.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Oh, Kate Beaton. Your drawings are marvelous, and your sense of humor even more marvelous. Much as I love her skewering of Victorians and bewildering forays into Canadian history, Beaton really brings home the bacon when she animates the American presidents. Roosevelt! I had no idea you were such a proponent of Good Times.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    I really love Kate Beaton's comics. She's absolutely hilarious. I've been waiting to read this book for a few years now ever since I read her first Hark! A Vagrant book. There were quite a few comics in here I especially enjoyed. This is definitely worth a read if you like history, literature, or comics.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    Kate Beaton's artwork makes me mad! Why am I not that talented? She's got an amazing affinity for lines that are the absolute perfect shape to express whatever humorous or quirky idea she's trying to get across, and her irreverent take on history is simultaneously extremely funny and disarmingly low-key.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Fun! So fun. Kate Beaton is fun. And pretty funny in that slightly snarky "I can't believe this happened, but it did, so I am writing a comic about it" way. Her best comics are the really nonsensical ones. There are several where Napoleon is stuffing his face with cookies in the last panel. Cookies. I laugh every time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Maybe I'm biased because a) I'm Canadian, she's Canadian b) I love history and those who make history fun (Sarah Vowell too!) c) I love fat ponies, she does too but this is a MUST HAVE collection of work by an artist who, if you are not familiar with her work, you should check out at http://harkavagrant.com/ because she is funny, smart and not afraid to mix the two into awesome comics.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lissibith

    Kate Beaton brings a particular brand of humor to a number of topics, most commonly Canadian history, and if you're the sort who appreciates this brand of humor, it is *hilarious.* Though to be fair, I think my favorite comics in this collection were the Santa ones. There's something about a bell-shaped Santa throwing a tantrum on the floor, arms just waving in the air....

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Fure

    You shouldn't be reading this review, you should be reading Never Learn Anything From History. Hopefully, Kate Beaton will publish more of her comics, which are all terrific. From historical/literary figure comics, original fiction (love the Sweeps!) to true-life-or-close-to-it strips, Beaton's art and storytelling combine for an offbeat, endearing and freakin' funny effect.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love Kate Beaton's work so this gets four stars, but most of these comics are available in her other book, "Hark! A Vagrant!". While it was a fun collection and there were a few I didn't know or didn't remember, nothing earth shattering or new.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James Bowman

    The first collection of Hark! A Vagrant comics. This one's a bit more tightly focused than the second collection (the one actually titled Hark! A Vagrant). Fun stuff, especially if you appreciate history! (A)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    OK I will freely admit that a few of these went over my head, but much like "Hark a Vagrant", this first collection of Beaton's comics was simply HILARIOUS. I think I am in love with this woman and her sense of humour.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Huskisson

    Kate Beaton once again proves that history makes the best humor. This seems to be one of her earlier collections where the sketches are much more "sketch-y" -- Still as funny though and it I don't think any of the comics are repeated in her more recent works. Just as fun and hilarious.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Starfish

    This is awesome. I want to go back and buy more copies of this book so I can make everyone I know read it, but alas, I have not that much money and a shopping list for Persephone books. Woe. But I will lend it to anyone interested, after I show it to Emily tomorrow.

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