Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvey, I Hardly Knew Ya.

I won't lie to you: The only issues of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor I have read in my life are two of the DC/Vertigo ones that came out a few years ago, and I got comped on them. Now I realize that probably makes me automatically invalid as a comics commentator, but bear with me, OK? I'm not unfamiliar with Pekar's work in general; you couldn't read an issue of The Comics Journal in the Eighties or Nineties without running across something with his name in it- a review, interview, you name it. For what it's worth, I've read plenty of excerpts in different places as well as anthologies with stuff he did in them, and I did see him on David Letterman once or twice. Sadly, though, not the one in which he appeared for the last time. I was never really moved to seek out his work, however, (even waxed philosophical about this shortcoming of mine a few years ago, scroll down a ways for the review) even though I enjoyed the excellent American Splendor feature film, made by Terry Zwigoff and starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar.

If I ever do decide to make the effort to appreciate Pekar's work more, it won't be in his lifetime, sorry to say- Harvey passed on early this morning, and the entire comics community is in mourning. Even a Philistine like me can recognize that Pekar's influence over the last three decades has been huge, especially in the Alternative comics genre, in which he was a pioneer and an inspiration, especially for those who chose to write and illustrate slice-of-life stories. He was a talented writer with a unique point-of-view, and will be missed by all.

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