Kate Beaton on CTV News!

Kate Beaton Canadian Original

CTV News    |    Todd Battis    |    January 1, 2012

Note from editor: On Wednesday's edition of Canadian Originals on CTV National News at 11pm, Atlantic bureau chief Todd Battis will bring us the story of Kate Beaton -- the current queen of the comic strip.

Here's Todd's blog:

Kate Beaton is a new kind of celebrity. Millions of people know her work, but wouldn't know her if they walked into her.

If you're among the shrinking number of folks who aren't familiar with her, here's the background:

Kate Beaton is a twenty-something cartoonist, originally from tiny Mabou in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (the same village that's home to the singing Rankin Family).

While studying anthropology at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, she began doodling in the margins of her notebook. That led to a gig writing a humour column in the student paper.

It's when she started combining her sketches with puns and one-liners that people took notice.

After school, like many Maritimers, she worked her way across the country, a stint at Victoria's Maritime Museum, even a job in Alberta's Oil Sands. All the while perfecting her drawing.

Beaton decided to make her observations a career, drawing comic strips about Wonder Woman, a pony, or a zany, obsessed business woman. But what sets her apart is her take on literary and historical figures.

She's become a sensation in the U.S. poking fun at the Bronte sisters, Hamlet, Edgar Alan Poe. But here's the startling thing, some of her most popular strips feature Canadian history and its players. From Sir Isaac Brock to Sir John A, even Diefenbaker. They're all fair game, and certainly rare subject matter in the comic genre.

She prefers to skewer famous dead people. No chance you'll run into an angry subject of a comic on the street.

Her rise to fame is different, too. She launched a website and fans began flocking to her, sharing her comics, spreading her work across the internet. She sold works to the New Yorker, Harper's and other heavy weight publications, but her fame was cemented on-line.

A collection forms her book, "Hark! A Vagrant". An Amazon.com hit, it topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Her recent North America book tour was so popular, fans had to be turned away.

Living in Brooklyn for the past while, she's in the process of moving back to Canada, closer to friends, family, and her muse, secure in the knowledge Americans want more of this Canuck's stuff.

Beaton is a joy, maybe because she can walk down the street without being swarmed.

The night we met at "Strange Adventures" Comics in Halifax, half a dozen family members drove down from Cape Breton to see her, even waited in line with others to say hi.

That unpretentious normalcy rubbed off on her. She sat for hours, signing books, sketching and speaking with fans.

Wicked humour aside, it's no surprise her fame continues to rise.

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