From Publishers Weekly
The most recent volume of Pekar's autobiographical anecdotes about the nonevents of his life is so self-reflexive it threatens to swallow its own tail. Pekar has been writing American Splendor
comics for well over 30 years, but as they've become a bigger part of his life, they've also become the subject of more of his stories. Many of the several dozen short pieces here at least touch on the process of working on his comics—a few are even variations on the groan-worthy what am I going to write a story about? I know—I'll write about having to come up with a story! formula. The book's artists, as usual, are decent to excellent—Pekar's got a fine eye for collaborators. Darwyn Cooke and Rick Geary contribute stylish short strips, and The Boys
artist Darick Robertson is a particularly good match with his fine-lined, detailed facial expressions. A few strips are prime Pekar, observant and witty, especially a David Lapham–drawn piece in which he's pleased to discover a hard-working, humane, knowledgeable barber; he's also starting to explore the physical difficulties of aging in some stories. Too often, though, this volume simply rambles, with Pekar casting himself as a grouch talking to himself about talking to himself. (Jan.)
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The retirement career as a comics and jazz commentator that Pekar posited in Another Day (2006) has proven elusive or, rather, as he allows herein, not lucrative enough to keep him from agreeing to script such nonfiction graphic novels as Macedonia (2007), Students for a Democratic Society (2008), and The Beats (forthcoming). Thank goodness, longtime fans must sigh, that he still does the comic book American Splendor, which made his name and launched that independent comics staple, autobiographical comics. In this roundup of the latest four AS issues, Pekar tackles issues facing any aging man—aches, pains, creakiness, forgetfulness—but also, despite his fabled (not least by himself) curmudgeonliness, some of the joys. In “Coventry,” he gets to recall his neighborhood of the 1970s. In “Bop Philosophy,” he gets to talk about jazz with a saxophonist friend. In “Global Warming,” he gets to play Jeremiah. Things get no better than stuff like that. Meanwhile, his artist collaborators these days (here, Darick Robertson, Hilary Barta, Rick Geary, Ty Templeton, among many others) give him their best every time. --Ray Olson