Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvey Pekar, 1939-2010

"People still don't realize how versatile and how good a medium comics is. If you look at the stuff I've written, they're like play scripts. You write the dialogue and direct it for the artist. But comics are undervalued because they've been used in such a limited way. People judge by what they know, and what they know is Superman."
—Harvey Pekar to The Los Angeles Times, 1995

Underground comic book writer, jazz critic, and file clerk Harvey Pekar died today at the age of 70.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that Mr. Pekar was found dead in his Clevaland Heights home by his wife, Joyce Brabner, at around 1 a.m.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Mr. Pekar was best known for writing the autobiographical comic, American Splendor, which featured artwork from Robert Crumb, Gary Dumm and Frank Stack. The comic series inspired a 2003 quasi-biopic/documentary film of the same name starring Paul Giamatti and Pekar as himself.

Mr. Pekar and Ms. Brabner wrote Our Cancer Year, a book-length comic, after Mr. Pekar was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1990 and underwent a grueling treatment.

His stories often portrayed the most mundane aspects of his daily life. R. Crumb once wrote that Mr. Pekar's writing material is "so staggeringly mundane it verges on the exotic."

He is survived by Joyce Brabner (his third wife) and their foster daughter Danielle.

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