A Cool Thing: Kate Beaton’s “Ducks”

A Cool Thing is a weekly post wherein I find something nifty online and talk about why it’s awesome.



“Ducks” is a series of short comics by Kate Beaton (of “Hark! A Vagrant” fame). It recounts a few stories from her time working at a mining site in Fort McMurray, Canada, and it’s one of the most emotionally honest things I’ve read in ages. Beaton says the work site is “a complicated place, it is not the same for all,” and the beauty of her presentation is how clearly she presents that complexity, with her minimal sketches a perfect counterpoint. It’s easy to slip into melodrama or wind up on a soapbox when you’re trying to recount something deeply personal, something you’re conflicted about, but “Ducks” balances between poignant and straightforward with genuine grace. The way the comic ends is flawless, capturing what Beaton was trying to convey with the rest of the series in a single panel. I dream of writing endings like that!

In a lot of ways, “Ducks” reminds me of a well-constructed poem: it quietly builds on itself, and then suddenly you’ve reached the last panel and find you understand the larger picture.