Obit: Harvey Pekar (1939–2010)

Underground comic book writer and career curmudgeon Harvey Pekar passed away on July 12, 2010. He was 70.

The cause of death was unclear as of this writing. He suffered from a series of physical and emotional ailments.

I’ve not read any of his books, but I did see the movie based on American Splendor. Here is what people are saying about him.

After decades of success which ranged from one of the medium’s earliest self-publishing triumphs to a mainstream crossover that would defy all expectations for the phrase “comic book movie,” one of the comics greatest stories has come to an end…

(via Comic Book Resources)

Pekar slouched towards glory, grumbling and snarling and bitching, because he was outraged at the general stupidity of the world around him. Is it any wonder we loved the dude?

(via Pajiba)

Pekar took a radically different track from the superhero-laden comics that had dominated the industry. He instead specialized in the lives of ordinary people, chronicling his life as a file clerk in Cleveland and his relationship with his third wife, Joyce Brabner. His 1994 graphic novel, “Our Cancer Year,” detailed his battle with lymphoma.

Pekar never drew himself but depended on collaborations with artists, most notably his friend R. Crumb, who helped illustrate the first issue of the ironically titled “American Splendor,” published in 1976. It was made into an acclaimed 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar. The most recent “American Splendor” was released in 2008.

(Associated Press via Yahoo! Canada News)

American Splendor carried the subtitle, “From Off the Streets of Cleveland,” and just like Superman, the other comic-book hero born in Cleveland, Pekar wore something of a disguise. He never stepped into a phone booth to change, but underneath his persona of aggravated, disaffected file clerk, he was an erudite book and jazz critic, and a writer of short stories that many observers compared to Chekhov, despite their comic-book form.

“He’s the soul of Cleveland,” Crumb told The Plain Dealer in 1994. “He’s passionate and articulate. He’s grim. He’s Jewish. I appreciate the way he embraces all that darkness.”

(The Plain Dealer via

So long Harvey….


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