A Sad Day
Cleveland comic book legend Harvey Pekar, dead at age 70.
Harvey Pekar, the creator of the first real true-to-life non-adventures-of-an-average-guy-comics has passed away today. He was 70.
I first ran across Harvey's stuff at a head/record shop in York back in the '70s that sold (amongst other things) Underground! Comics! After picking up all the FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS comics and ZAPs, I found a title called AMERICAN SPLENDOR, a comic written by a Veteran's Administration file clerk from Cleveland, Ohio. The writer, Harvey Pekar, told stories of the trials and tribulations of a mundane existence, but in a way that made them extremely compelling. The stories were bare-bones honest observations of the day-to-day existence of people like you and me. A number of the old "underground" artists illustrated his stories - notably Robert Crumb, whose work I continue to devour to this day. Many people know Harvey Pekar from his appearances on The David Letterman Show and from the movie based on his life and work AMERICAN SPLENDOR, or even from his award-winning graphic novel OUR CANCER YEAR (a harrowing account of Harvey's years-long treatment for cancer), but I will always think of Harvey as that guy that did those comics about... nothing... that actually meant something. Many writers have followed his example with less than stellar results. Harvey's stories came from the pit of his stomach and from the bottom of his heart.
My condolences to Joyce Brabner and all of those who loved Harvey. He was a true American original, a comic legend, and he will be missed. I guess I'll dig out my incomplete run of AMERICAN SPLENDOR and re-read them. I know I won't be disappointed. Thanks for telling your story.