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Wordfest presents Kate Beaton

@ - MT
$20 + GST & FEES
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library, 800 3 Street SE
@ - MT

Wordfest is thrilled to present award-winning cartoonist Kate Beaton with the graphic-novel memoir the entire world is talking about: Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands. "It’s arguably her greatest achievement to date... a memoir of her experiences working in the Athabasca oil sands in northern Alberta," raves Wired magazine. "It’s a serious, moving, and heartfelt piece of cartooning that is as kind as it is fearless and easily one of the most impressive graphic novels of this year, or works of any kind in the past decade."

The 75-minute conversation starts at 7:00 PM MT and is hosted by Calgary comic book artist (and petroleum engineer) Jaclyn Adomeit. It will be followed by an audience Q & A and book signing.

We are grateful to Drawn & Quarterly for making it possible for us to connect you with Kate Beaton.

Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton was born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. After graduating from Mount Allison University with a double degree in History and Anthropology, she moved to Alberta in search of work that would allow her to pay down her student loans. During the years she spent out West, Beaton began creating webcomics under the name Hark! A Vagrant, quickly drawing a substantial following around the world. 

The collections of her landmark strip Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops each spent several months on the New York Times graphic novel bestseller list, as well as appearing on best of the year lists from Time, The Washington Post, Vulture, NPR Books, and winning the Eisner, Ignatz, Harvey, and Doug Wright Awards. She has also published the picture books King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.

Beaton lives in Cape Breton with her family.

About Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

“Artful, considered, and courageous, Ducks is a landmark work." –Madeleine Thien, author of the Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Do Not Say We Have Nothing 
“What a difficult, gorgeous, and abidingly humane book.” –Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
“A masterwork” –Lynda Barry

Before there was Kate Beaton, New York Times bestselling cartoonist of Hark! A Vagrant, there was Katie Beaton of the Cape Breton Beatons, specifically Mabou, a tight-knit seaside community where the lobster is as abundant as beaches, fiddles, and Gaelic folk songs. With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, Katie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush — part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can’t find it in the homeland they love so much. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed.

Beaton’s natural cartooning prowess is on full display as she draws colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, northern lights, and boreal forest. Her first full-length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an untold story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people.


  • Interview: ‘We had to leave home for a better future’: Kate Beaton on the brutal, drug-filled reality of life in an oil campThe Guardian
  • Finding Humor, and Humanity, in Canada’s Oil Fields –The New York Times
  • Kate Beaton defined the late-aughts aesthetic online. Her memoir is a monumental synthesis of history, politics, and herself.Vulture
  • Kate Beaton’s New Book Grapples with the Human Cost of the Oil Sands –The Walrus
  • Kate Beaton on Creating the Best Graphic Novel of 2022 –Wired

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