Kate Beaton’s Historiographic Metafiction
This chapter considers the comics of Kate Beaton as “historiographic metafiction,” which is a mode of literature that works to uncover the various processes that construct the past. Beaton’s distinctive comedic tone – at once dry and ridiculous – is matched by a finely modulated drawing style, which even at its most polished exudes a kind of sketchbook energy. Her nimble cartooning renders familiar historical figures as vivid characters whose circumstances become not only humorous but strikingly immediate. Ultimately, it is Beaton’s keen sense of absurdity that animates her literary and historical interventions. The juxtaposition of contemporary sensibilities with historical events engenders a fruitful disorientation, which casts the past and its preservation in particularly sharp relief.
Keywords: Absurdity, Anachronism, Beaton, History, metafiction