Tuesday, July 13, 2010

R.I.P. Harvey Pekar

Early yesterday morning, Harvey Pekar was discovered dead in his apartment. Pekar, of course, was most famous for his American Splendor series, chronicling his life and experiences as a working stiff in Cleveland. He became somehwat of a public figure after his repeated tousling with David Letterman on the Late Show, mostly surrounding the shady arms dealings of GE, NBC's then-parent company.

Pekar's comic was most famous for using the medium of comics to tell stories not about superheroes, but about a balding, overweight misanthrope and his daily grind working in a VA hospital mail room.

I once had the great fortune of getting to interview Pekar on his graphic novel adaptation of Studs Terkel's Working and his views of how sociology informed his works (short answer: it did not). While the interview provided me with a harsh lesson on the fact that interviewing someone famous for being irritable and not doing interviews does not readily lend itself to a very good interview, I did manage to get him to angrily relate possibly his most famous quote of "comics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures," which has always been a favorite line of mine.

So at least there was that.

Anyway, Pekar kept working right up until his death and has left a lot of material behind to remember him by. If you're not familiar with it, now would be a great time to stop what you're doing and go check it out. He will be missed...

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