Harvey Pekar, creator of American Splendor, a truly unique comic book experience, has died. And I feel a loss commensurate with no one else who I didn’t actually know. Probably because through American Splendor, I feel I knew him so well. Which other comic has been so honest with the reader over such a period of time. So open, so raw, so uncompromising?
American Splendor, inspired by his friendship with Robert Crumb, was the king of all autobiographical comics moving from head shop distribution, to comic shops, to book shops as the movie hit. With a reoccurring spot, for a time, on David Letterman, Pekar flirted with fame, always trying to stay one step ahead of the game financially and rarely succeeding.
And even as he became a success, he was hit by cancer – which he then wrote about in detail. Of late Dark Horse has proved a patron for the man, supporting his various comics projects, and even DC published a volume.
His influence has been seen, not just amongst other autobiographical comic book creators such as Ed Brubaker or Chester Brown, but also creating the popular misandrist style of character that can be seen in shows such as One Foot In The Grave or Curb Your Enthusiasm, constantly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Cleveland Metro reports that he was found by his wife and co-creator Joyce Brabner in the early hours this morning after passing in his sleep.
I just can’t believe that he’s finally off the streets of Cleveland. It feels wrong in so many ways. I am angry, sad, furious, lethargic and filled with rage. Which is probably just how he’d want it.
This must be how other people felt when Diana died.