Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So long Harvey

Harvey Pekar has passed away. With his passing we lost one of the most miraculous people ever. But if he heard me say that he'd laugh in my face. And maybe punch me as well. But it's true and here's why:

  • In a time when comic books were not held in high esteem, when only a few companies published comic books and they tightly controlled who could write, draw, and colorize them Harvey managed to get a comic book about his seemingly mundane life not only published but distributed as well.
  • The stories he told in his comics were not the type of stories that would ever have been put out by Marvel or DC.
  • After managing to get his comic books published, he parlayed that into many TV appearances on the old David Letterman show on NBC, that was waaaay back when Dave was edgy, super funny, and cutting edge.
  • Then finally pop culture caught up with Harvey and showed him the love and attention he deserved. There was the great film about his life American Splendor and more of his work was published both in serial and graphic novel form.
His was a long shot life. I'm not about to get into his personal neuroses or his illnesses, be they real or imaginary, it's his professional and pop culture legacy that interests me. For a working class stiff of a guy who toiled in obscurity but who kept plugging away at his dream to have finally 'made it' to where he did in his life is amazing to me. His life shows that if you keep trying, sometimes you can succeed.

And his life and example have also inspired me to try my hand at producing a graphic novel. The project I'm working on now owes a huge debt to Harvey because in the back of my mind for a few years now I've thought that if someone like Harvey can get his stories out there in comic book form, then a guy with a fertile imagination like me should be able to as well. It's taken me a bit longer to get off my monkey ass to get started but now that I have I look at Harvey as a pioneer and as a hero in the field of comic books and graphic novels.

One of my comic book aficionado blog buds posted that Harvey was 'gone.' I disagreed with him because with the pop culture legacy he left behind, Harvey will never ever be gone from our collective consciousness.

1 comment:

Liberality said...

My hubby is really sad about this too.