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Not the best introduction to Pekar.
on June 14, 2014
If you have never read any of Harvey Pekar's work you should NOT start with this anthology. I loved the movie and wanted to experience some of his comics, so I picked this (probably based on the cover by Drew Friedman). I guess I should have known by now that if the title says "new anthology" then the better stuff would be in the "original anthology". My main problem with the book is the range in the quality in the artwork. Harvey Pekar's writing shines when the artwork contributes to the narrative, adding a level of nuance. There are a few topnotch illustrators included, R Crumb, Drew Friedman and Chester Brown. Pekar's work is at its very best when Crumb is illustrating it, and I think there are only 3 included here. Much of the other artwork is bland at best, amateurish at worst.
If you are a fan of Pekar's writing then it won't matter to you. His observation of life's mundane moments, and his own neurotic foibles is always somehow interesting. But, I have become familiar with his earlier writing and enjoy reading that more. In these pieces he is married, settled down and known as a comic book writer. He still works as a file clerk, but also travels to comic book conventions, appears on David Letterman and such. His life seems more stable. In the earlier stories he is still more of loner; sometimes he is an open wound, other times he is a keen observer of other quirky characters.