From the Streets of Cleveland: Harvey Pekar R.I.P.

July 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm (Uncategorized)

Oh, a great one passed away today.

Harvey Pekar, the creator of American Splendor  died today aged 70.

American Splendor detailed Pekar’s life through a series of usually short vignettes and stories. Pekar didn’t draw, and so his comics were illustrated by the cream of the comics world. I first read Pekar’s comics in the late 1980s, probably after reading about him in The Comics Journal.  Then it became necessary to trawl through the comic shops around the city to pick up back issues.

The stories were rough, uncompromising, touching, and much, much more. Pekar’s first exposure to a larger audience came through David Letterman when he hosted The Late Show.  Letterman obviously got a kick out of Pekar’s curmudgeon persona and invited him back several times. (Pekar details his experiences with Letterman in  American Splendor.

Pekar’s emergence into mass culture came  in 2003 with  the movie American Splendor starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Hope Davis as his wife Joyce Brabner. The movie was partly based on the graphic novel Our Cancer Year.

In addition to his work in comics, Pekar wrote music reviews, and also a graphic novel history of the IWW (with Paul Buhle) and one on the beats amongst other projects.

A truly great artist, and the best way to remember him is to read his work.

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