Underground comic writer and all around gloomy guy Harvey Pekar died this morning at his home in Cleveland. He was 70 years old.
Pekar was a regular everyman working as a file clerk and collecting Jazz records, until a fateful friendship with the artist Robert Crumb gave way to Pekar’s brilliantly off-beat cult favorite American Splendor comic books.
Realizing that comics could tell real stories, written for adults, and writing what he knew about best, himself, Pekar created the autobiographical style that paved the way for today’s slew of memoir and non-fiction comic book writers and artists.
Pekar endured a brief celebrity status in the 1980’s, but always rejected the offers for bigger money, never wanting to become co-opted or to sacrifice his integrity for anyone else.
Pekar continued to work as a file clerk until his retirement. He always wrote about his own life, even chronicling his battle with lymphatic cancer in 1990’s Our Cancer Year.
In 2003, the film American Splendor introduced me and a whole generation of kids too young to watch Letterman in the 80’s to Pekar’s honest and scathing perspective on ordinary life. He was a one of a kind and I bet even Dave will miss the old guy.