The Splendid Harvey Pekar

I have great admiration for Harvey Pekar, the underground comics writer  who created his autobiographical comics book series  ‘American Splendor’. Now that he is gone to the eternal land of comics “Splendor” all his admirers will  miss him very much.

Two of his quotes resume pretty well my own feelings about how to write and draw comics:

“I try and write the way things happen. I don’t try and fulfill people’s wishes.”
“I think comics have far more potential than a lot of people realize.” see more at

Source PEKAR.PROJECT, “Legendary Vienna”. A story about about Galitizianers Jews in Vienna.

Now in the era of the superhero comics I quote:

” we finally have – in American Splendor – a comic-book hero who is a lot easier to identify with than any X-Person, Hulk, Daredevil, Terminatrix or Governator. His name is Harvey Pekar, the autobiographical hero of the long-running comic book American Splendor.” see here on The Guardian 2003,

I easily identified myself with the sort of drawings representing his everyday characters , miserable with their ups and downs always stumbling on some inessential fact, fact that at that very moment is the most acute crisis in their life.

The artists who illustrated his written work  fall under the spell  of this sort of  being “compassionate and empathetic” as quoted from a statement by Paul Giamatti playing the starring  role of Harvey Pekar in the film ‘American Splendor”:

Harvey was one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I’ve ever met,’ ……’He had a huge brain and an even bigger soul. And he was hilarious. He was a great artist, a true American poet, and there is no one to replace him.’ “, see here on WEWS

Now Pekar never drew himself but depended on collaborations with artists:

He…”.. was incapable of “drawing a straight line”, according to a line in the film version of his story, he recruited his friend, underground comics artist Robert Crumb, to help create a comics series. Besides Crumb, other notable American Splendor illustrators include Alison Bechdel, Brian Bram, Chester Brown, Alan Moore, David Collier, Gary Dumm, Frank Stack, Drew Friedman, Dean Haspiel, Val Mayerik, Josh Neufeld, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, Gerry Shamray, Jim Woodring, Joe Zabel, Ed Piskor, and Greg Budgett. More recent issues have employed a new crop of artists, including Ty Templeton, Richard Corben, Hunt Emerson, Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez, Ho Che Anderson, and Rick Geary.” from the blog of Sid Harth .

Perhaps the following quote from the movie “American Splendor“, said by the real Harvey, shows his strength  when confronted with the vagaries of his everyday life:

“I felt more alone that week than any. Sometimes I’d feel a body lying next to me like an amputee feels a phantom limb. All I did was think about Jennie Gerhardt and Alice Quinn and all the decades of people I had known. The more I thought, the more I felt like crying. Life seemed so sweet and so sad, and so hard to let go of in the end. But hey, man, every day is a brand new deal, right? Just keep on working and something’s bound to turn up.” see more on IMDB….

…And the above motto, induced in the mind of his artists illustrators a particular visual atmosphere well reflected in their drawings, which I like very much.

Source: “Underground Comics