Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)

Posted: July 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment »

I don’t think Harvey Pekar set out to redefine a segment of comic book storytelling. I don’t think he planned to become the example others would follow, in both style and tone.¬† And I seriously doubt Pekar ever meant to become a legend.

The fact that he accomplished all of those things, primarily with an unflinching dedication to honesty that he shared with his audience, is a testament to his impact and importance as a writer and collaborator. The news of his death today at the age of 70 is a loss for the industry and for the countless readers who learned to see more than the mundane in everyday life thanks to his unfiltered stories.

Pekar was the kind of writer you hear about but so rarely see; someone who saw stories all around him, glimpsed the extraordinary in the ordinary, and who would then share – who seemed to NEED to share – what he saw with others. Often those stories were awkward. Sometimes they were even difficult to read. But, in the best way possible, they were always real.

From American Splendor to Our Cancer Year to The Quitter and everything in between and since, Pekar helped define and advance indie comics and the autobiographical genre. Anyone who has tried to tell a story taken from or even set in real life since Pekar first appeared on the underground comix scene has been influenced by him (whether they know it or not).

The genre – indeed, the medium – owes a debt of gratitude to Harvey Pekar. We’ll never see another like him.