A casual webcomics hobbyist who earned such a devoted following that she wound up moving from her native Canada to New York to go into cartooning full time, Kate Beaton covers a broad range of topics in her strips, from Canadian historical figures and stereotypes to the adventures of a fat, oblivious Shetland pony that’s somehow gained a reputation as a warrior and an assassin. Whether she’s musing over the foibles of real people—Nikola Tesla’s devotion to celibacy, say—or putting famous literary characters into new contexts, or just being silly, her comics reinvent serious issues and respectable art for a more frivolous modern era, where emotional pettiness trumps broad ideals, and self-importance keeps people from seeing just how ridiculous they are. Beaton started showing the Internet her work in 2007, following no particular schedule, just posting sketches and cartoons on her website as the mood took her. But the unpredictability of her topics and her quirky, casual method of addressing them quickly earned her a hugely positive reputation, and her surprise success led her to find a name for her strip, create an online store to promote it, and produce print anthologies, starting with 2010’s Never Learn Anything From History. Drawn And Quarterly recently released a follow-up titled after the strip: Hark! A Vagrant. To mark the book’s release, The A.V. Club called Beaton at her Brooklyn studio to discuss why she doesn’t address contemporary politics, why writing is about rewriting, and why she regrets offhandedly becoming a poster child for feminist cartooning.