Harvey Pekar, the legendary writer known for his long-running autobiographical comic book, American Splendor, died today aged 70.
I can’t say I’ve read much by him but I have seen the 2003 American Splendor film, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar, and I tremendously enjoyed it, particularly for the ending, which featured the real Pekar’s retirement party from his job as a file clerk in Cleveland, a town that can’t seem to stay away from getting shit on lately in regard to its pop culture stars.
Giamatti’s performance was phenomenal in that film, but the entire time I spent watching it, I got the feeling most of that performance was informed by the real Pekar every step of the way, with the crux of everything being the depiction of Pekar’s battle with cancer.
Pekar wrote candidly and at length about that health scare and got plenty of accolades for it. That brave depiction of his fight was very harrowing and he deserved all the recognition he got for it.
But enough from me. I don’t know the man’s work as well as Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker does. Read his very nice article about Mr. Pekar and go ahead and check out the book that inspired the movie, American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar.
And, as always, the final word should come from the man himself. Here’s a nice clip of the ultimate fish out of water, Pekar, appearing on David Letterman’s NBC show back in the ’80s.