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American Splendor and More American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar Paperback – July 29, 2003
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From the Inside Flap
The inspiration for the award-winning movie
from HBO Films and Fine Line Features
The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar
Two classic comic anthologies in one volume
Stories by Harvey Pekar
Introduction by R. Crumb
Art by Kevin Brown, Gregory Budgett, Sean Carroll, Sue Cavey, R. Crumb, Gary Dumm, Val Mayerik, and Gerry Shamray
The classic collection of the comics that inspired the movie "American "Splendor, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival
"American Splendor is the world's first literary comic book. Cleveland native Harvey Pekar is a true American original. A V.A. hospital file clerk and comic book writer, Harvey chronicles the ordinary and mundane in stories both funny and touching. His dead-on eye for the frustrations and minutiae of the workaday world mix in a delicate balance with his insight into personal relationships. Pekar has been compared to Dreiser, Dostoevsky, and Lenny Bruce. But he is truly more than all of them--he is himself.
"Mr. Pekar has . . . proven that comics can address the ambiguities of daily living, that like the finest fiction, they can hold a mirror up to life."
--"The New York Times
"[Pekar] has a vision that makes daily city life--a ride on the bus, a run-in with a boss, or simply buying bread--dramatic."
"Simply stated, "American Splendor is the most superb literary endeavor to come off the streets of Cleveland in decades."
--"The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
"Mr. Pekar lets all of life flood into his panels: the humdrum and the heroic, the gritty and the grand."
--"The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Harvey Pekar, a native of Cleveland, was best known for his autobiographical slice-of-life comic book series American Splendor, a first-person account of his downtrodden life. He was also a jazz critic whose reviews were published in the Boston Herald, the Austin Chronicle, and Jazz Times. He did freelance work for the critically acclaimed radio station WKSU and appeared many times on Late Night with David Letterman.
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In the later Pekar work, the centerpiece of much of it is Pekar's obsessive-compulsive anxiety. But a lot of this work focuses on what might be described as Pekar's existential anxiety: his terrible loneliness, his anger and alienation, his dark reflections on the meaning of life, his desire for recognition, his regret over wasted opportunities and adolescent hubris, and his worries about future contingencies (financial security, illness and death, old age). The Pekar who comes through in these pages isn't the lovable crank of the film. Rather, the person who comes through is the outsider, a self-educated man, extremely knowledgeable in literature and music, who disdains a "normal" lifestyle and seeks freedom through nonconformity. Perhaps the finest single piece Pekar has ever written, "I'll be Forty-three on Friday (How I'm Living Now)" speaks to all this. The collection's lead story, "The Harvey Pekar Name Story," in which Pekar winds up asking "Who IS Harvey Pekar?" is a perfect set-up.
Of course, there are also lighter moments in this collection. Mr. Boats (wonderfully illustrated by R. Crumb) appears here a couple of times, and he's always good for a bit of gently funny homespun wisdom. "Mrs. Roosevelt and the Young Queen of Greece" and "On the Corner: A Sequel, June 1976" are touching pieces about the bittersweetness of memory. And the penultimate story in the collection, "Common Sense," would make even a dyed-in-the-wool misanthrope love humanity.
At the time Harvey was living and writing I was publishing underground comics on the West Coast and working with such notables as S. Clay Wilson, Steve Lafler, Joe Zabel, Roman Scott and others so I felt compelled to read Harvey's work. It captured me totally. Highly recommended.
this for sure ain't an easy read and it takes some time to work your way through all the stories. but i think it is worth it. This is a great book and even if the crumbdrawn stories stand out on first sight i found the other artists as interesting on second sight.
One thing that occurd to me is how much more complex and interesting and deep the original stories are in comparison to the abovementioned movie. this is a good example to study how they they flatten and manipulate the real life and the real world to squeeze it in a screensized format.
So, this is a very cheap book with great art in it and i recommend it to everyone who seeks for true stuff produced by people stubborn enough to produce it.