Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvey Pekar (1939 - 2010)

In the long run, we're all dead anyway.

-- Harvey Pekar, The Quitter
I just found out that Harvey Pekar, the amazing comics writer who specialized in small, autobiographical anecdotes about his daily life as a file clerk, died today.

A fabulous movie based on his comics (and, hence, about his life), called by the title of his ongoing comics series, American Splendor, came out in 2003.

Some of you may know that for some years now (far too many) I've been working on a graphic novel (illustrating my own script). I'd long harbored a fantasy of sending him a copy once it was done and (FSM willing) published, and saying I'd love to do a story with him if he had any interest in it.

I should have worked faster.

If you've never read his work, the best place to start is probably the collection of (most of) his collaborations with artist Robert Crumb, American Splendor Presents: Bob & Harv's Comics (1994), which was for me the best work either of them ever did.

Some links:

David Ulin has a nice appreciation in the LA Times. Since I'm away from my collection of Pekar comics at the moment, and can't go through them looking for a good epitaphial epigraph of my own, I filched one from his piece.

• Tom Spurgeon has yet to post his full obituary, but his 382 word (2,226-character) Twitter (!) response -- serialized, natch, but thankfully collated at the link -- is probably better than most of the full-scale obituaries by other people will be. [Update: Spurgeon has one of his massive "collective memory" link collections on Pekar here.]

• Journalista has posted Gary Groth's 1993 interview with Pekar from The Comics Journal.

• As of now, Wikipedia has a thorough article on Pekar's comics series American Splendor; hopefully the publicity of his death won't draw enough attention to it that the powers-that-be at Wikipedia decide to ruin it.

Maybe more links later.

Harvey Pekar, RIP.

(Irrelevant and slightly irreverent footnote: am I the only person who sees six kinds of irony in the fact that the Coroner in Cuyahoga County, where Pekar died, was named "Frank Miller"?)

Update, July 16: More Pekar links:

Tom Spurgeon's full-length obituary is here.

Jeet Heer has an obituary here.

Alan David Duane's 2005 interview with Pekar is here.

This blog post by John Glenn Taylor has a nice sampling of random panels from Pekar comics.

1 comment:

Michael A. Burstein said...

I'm sorry you never got to send your book to him.