Reading paths: Harvey Pekar Comics

For decades, the comic has been synonymous with superheroes and science fiction, but more unusual stories have slowly gained readers, acclaim and a comfortable place at the table under the "indie" or "alternative" label, and the medium is better for this . Numerous artists and writers are responsible for the movement, one of which is Harvey Pekar. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pekar worked as an office clerk at a Veteran's Administration (and would do so until he retired in 2001) when he met legendary comic artist Robert Crumb , who opened his eyes to the comic's ability to tell realistic and even attractive stories for adults.

Pekar started creating crudely drawn comics, which Crumb, and later other artists, later re-illustrated, and American splendor was born in 1976. An anthology of the series won an American Book Award in 1987, and Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner, a comic book producer herself, received a Harvey Award for best original graphic novel for Our cancer year in 1995. American splendor it was adapted into an Oscar nominated film with Paul Giamatti in 2003. Pekar died on 12 July 2010.

Here, presented on what would have been his eightieth birthday, is a suggested reading order of some of Pekar's most important works.

Start with The Quitter

The Quitter, illustrated by Dean Haspiel, does not fall under the umbrella of the American Splendor, as it deals with Pekar's proven adolescence, full of street fights and young adulthood before reaching his stride professional and artistic. Almost all of Pekar's work is autobiographical, but I think this independent graphic novel, along with American splendor film, is the best introduction for newcomers.

Dive into American splendor

Once you have an overview of Pekar's life, feel free to take one American splendor volume, literally at the beginning of each particular strip or story, and laws. Seriously, these are great books on the bedside table. There is no general plot or plot to talk about; each strip is usually an episode of one or three days in Pekar's life. The drama arises from the loss of the car keys, from the search for a decent pair of shoes, from the management of difficult colleagues. The joy lies in discovering and finally buying a much-needed record in a garage sale, receiving a compliment and finishing a good book.

Many highlights of the series do not even have Pekar do much of everything. My favorite is "I'll be forty-three Friday (How I & # 39; m Living Now)", in which Pekar strolls in a park, contemplating previous marriages (Brabner was his third wife), the work and the cyclical nature of his life . I don't think it's very difficult to say that the series anticipates autofiction, for example, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Not all pages are compelling, but none are false.

If you are looking for the best value for money with the minimum overlap possible, I suggest you collect American Splendor: The Life and Times by Harvey Pekar and More American Splendor, collected in a single volume to coincide with the release of the film, as well as The New American Splendor Anthology.

Don't miss Unsung Hero

Although it was released as American splendor installment, Unknown hero, illustrated by David Collier, is as much an independent graphic novel as anything Pekar has ever published and, unlike most of his works, is not written from his point of view. The story is the oral history of the Marine Corps LCpl experience Robert McNeill in the Vietnam War, in which McNeill experienced many horrible fights. Slender and implacable, this is, in my opinion, Pekar's strongest single book.

Switch to graphic novels

Pekar was diagnosed with cancer three times in his life. The first instance was created for the topic Our Cancer Year, a graphic novel written by Brabner and illustrated by Frank Stack. The book does not punch, describing Pekar's treatment for lymphoma and these steps make reading difficult. This seems mainly to be Brabner's book (understandable, given the circumstances), and is ultimately a touching testimony of his resilience.

Our film year is less a graphic novel than a collection of separate strips that deal with Pekar's life after the release of American splendor movie. It makes it fascinating to read about how to eliminate misconceptions about the entertainment world (for example, just because a movie is made on you doesn't mean you will become or remain rich). I also recommend the book to aspiring freelance writers; Pekar, also a respected blues / jazz critic, used his new advertisement to mark writing opportunities in various publications, whose products, mostly profiles of figures like B.B. King, Albert Ayler and Jimmy Scott include in the book.

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