Jul 12, 2010

In Memoriam: Harvey Pekar

One of the greatest and most-singular voices in American comic books has passed away. (thanks to Toilet & Bowels, of the Sonic Youth Gossip Forum, for the news)

Harvey Pekar, 70, the graphic novelist whose autobiographical comic book "American Splendor" chronicled his life as a filing clerk, record collector, freelance jazz critic and one of life's all around misfits, was found dead early today at his home in suburban Cleveland.

The AP reported that police were called to Mr. Pekar's home by his wife about 1 a.m. and the artist was found between a bed and dresser. Mr. Pekar had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression, police said. - ( Terence McArdle - Washington Post )

If there ever was anyone that came out of the underground comics world with honest literary quality it was Harvey Pekar. In a medium known mostly for the artwork, and derided by many for sub-par writing, Harvey Pekar was the first in comics to truly shove his real life in one's face and shout "TAKE THIS SHIT SERIOUSLY! IT IS MY LIFE GODDAMNIT!"
His long-running book, American Splendor, was drawn by so many of the greats, from the original Robert Crumb, to Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, and Gilbert Hernandez. While not for everyone, Pekar's inimitable world-view and deep-bred cynicism struck a chord with many readers who could relate to his tales of the every day degradations and humiliations that a man must suffer to live in the world, and with his caustic humor in the face of it all.
Here is a great interview done fairly recently with Harvey Pekar.
-FUPPETS- is glad that Harvey Pekar existed and that he stuck it out. He did things his way, never earning big bucks, but never selling his soul out to some faceless conglomerate for the sake of an easy pay-day.

Harvey Pekar Obituaries and Remembrances

The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Los Angeles Times

Here is an infamous 1988 appearance by Harvey Pekar on Late Night with David Letterman. Harvey later said of his many appearances on Letterman's show, "[W]ith Letterman ... you either lay down and let him insult you or you do something about it. Most people keep their mouth shut and let him dump on them. I don't wanna do that."

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