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Lateral Thoughts on Life.

Splenderously Crumby World

This strange, hump-backed, looking fellow is Harvey Pekar and he’s actually one of my heroes.

Harvey Pekar
Harvey Pekar really loved collecting stuff. At one point he collected comic books and then later on he began to collect rare Jazz records.

This somewhat obscure hobby led him to meet Robert Crumb. Crumb had a love of rare Jazz music also. Crumb was also beginning to become well known as an underground comic book artist. Crumb’s adult-themed art work impressed the normally cynical Pekar.

robert_crumb
Through reading his friend’s material Pekar began to realize the immense untapped potential of the whole comic book medium. Sure the medium had it’s full range of masked superheroes but Pekar felt there was a huge range of stories still waiting to be told.

“Comics could do anything that film could do,” Pekar realized. “And I wanted in on it.” he said. However it took Pekar some time to decide just what he wanted to do. “I theorized for maybe ten years about doing comics,” he says.

Pekar laid out some stories with crude stick figures and showed them to Crumb. Crumb became the first artist to illustrate American Splendor.

American Splendor was a groundbreaking series of Comic Books. The comic documents daily life in the aging neighborhoods of Pekar’s native Cleveland, where Pekar worked throughout his life (even after gaining fame) as a file clerk in a large Veterans Administration hospital.

American Splendor basically chronicles all the everyday events of Harvey who is a kind of everyman character. Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff seems to be the basic theme.

It’s laced with a realism and subtle humor that reminds me of Woody Allen or Seinfeld at their best.

Pekar gets material from anything at all. For this reason I think bloggers (especially those that write about anything like my Blogfather Madbull) will really enjoy learning more about him and his work.

For example Pekar would write about things like “How do you pick the best line to join while waiting at the Supermarket ?” or he might ponder his own name and write about what happened when he looks up his own name in the directory (and who hasn’t done that ?).

He also wrote interesting pieces about movies, books, politicians or music
he liked.
For samples click here or visit

http://www.sparehed.com/2007/05/22/40-part-37-harvey-pekar/

More poignantly though he wrote about his personal battles with Cancer. Later on as he got famous and appeared extensively on popular shows like Letterman’s Late Night Show he wrote about that new found fame also.

A recent movie about his life presents an easy way to learn about him. In the movie entitled “American Splendor”, Pekar finds love, family and a creative voice through the underground comic books he creates. Along the bumpy journey, he meets, marries and falls for Joyce, an admiring comic book seller.

american_splendor

The movie also shows the real life Harvey and his friends in some revealing snippets that enrich the heart-warming film. Be warned this film may even make you cry at a few points and will certainly make you laugh at many points.

It gets my highest recommendation, when you see the story of my hero Harvey you will be inspired too and you’ll realize it’s really a Splenderously Crumby World, full of Unexpected Possibilities.

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September 21, 2009 - Posted by | blog, Book Reviews, comics, fiction, humor, Lateral Thinking, Marketing, movies, non fiction, philosophy, Psychology, success, super power, writing | , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I had the pleasure of seeing the film at a preview in Cupertino, CA, with Pekar and his wife and daughter in the audience, and he did a Q&A thing afterwards.

    I really loved the fact that it was not only a biographical movie, capturing the unique character of Pekar, but it makes you think about the difference between reality and the fiction of recreating that reality. 10/10 in my book.

    Comment by Nambo | September 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. I give it a perfect score too, Nambo. I thought of you and Eban, and all those comic characters, we used to create, when I saw Harvey doing his stick figure drawings.

    Comment by heavylogix | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  3. Ok, I will bite. I am going to check it out.

    Comment by Mad Bull | September 29, 2009 | Reply


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