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Stars that died 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Harvey Pekar American comic book writer (American Splendor) and music critic has died he was, 70,

Harvey Lawrence Pekar was an American underground comic book writer, music critic, and media personality, best known for his autobiographical American Splendor comic series. In 2003, the series inspired a critically acclaimed film adaptation of the same name.

Pekar described American Splendor as "an autobiography written as it's happening. The theme is about staying alive. Getting a job, finding a mate, having a place to live, finding a creative outlet. Life is a war of attrition. You have to stay active on all fronts. It's one thing after another. I've tried to control a chaotic universe. And it's a losing battle. But I can't let go. I've tried, but I can't."[1]

(October 8, 1939 – July 12, 2010)


Early life



Harvey Pekar and his younger brother Allen were born in Cleveland, Ohio to Saul and Dora Pekar, immigrants from Bialystok, Poland. Saul Pekar was a Talmudic scholar who owned a grocery store on Kinsman Avenue, with the family living above the store. Harvey Pekar graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1957, then attended Case Western Reserve University, where he dropped out after a year. He then served in the United States Navy, and after discharge returned to Cleveland where he worked odd jobs before being hired as file clerk at Cleveland's Veteran's Administration Hospital. He would hold this job even after gaining fame, before retiring in 2001.[2]

Pekar's friendship with Robert Crumb led to the creation of the self-published, autobiographical comic book series American Splendor. Crumb and Pekar became friends through their mutual love of jazz records[3] when Crumb was living in Cleveland in the mid-1960s. Crumb's work in underground comics led Pekar to see the form's possibilities, saying, "Comics could do anything that film could do. And I wanted in on it."[4] It took Pekar a decade to do so: "I theorized for maybe ten years about doing comics."[5] Pekar laid out some stories with crude stick figures and showed them to Crumb and another artist, Robert Armstrong. Impressed, they both offered to illustrate, and soon Pekar's story "Crazy Ed" appeared in Crumb's The People's Comics, and Crumb became the first artist to illustrate American Splendor. The comic documents daily life in the aging neighborhoods of Pekar's native Cleveland. The first issue of American Splendor

appeared in 1976.


Pekar's most well-known and longest-running collaborators include Crumb, Gary Dumm, Greg Budgett, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Zabel, Gerry Shamray, Frank Stack, Mark Zingarelli, and Joe Sacco. In the 2000s, he teamed regularly with artists Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld. Others cartoonists who worked with him include Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Alison Bechdel, Gilbert Hernandez, Eddie Campbell, David Collier, Drew Friedman, Ho Che Anderson, Rick Geary, Ed Piskor, Hunt Emerson, Bob Fingerman, and Alex Wald; as well as such non-traditional illustrators as Pekar's wife, Joyce Brabner, and comics writer Alan Moore.

Stories from the American Splendor comics have been collected in many books and anthologies.


A film adaptation of American Splendor was released in 2003, directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman.[6] It featured Paul Giamatti as Pekar, as well as appearances by Pekar himself. Pekar wrote about the effects of the film in American Splendor: Our Movie Year.

In 2006, Pekar released a four-issue American Splendor miniseries through the DC Comics imprint Vertigo.[7] This was collected in the American Splendor: Another Day paperback. In 2008 Vertigo released a second "season" of American Splendor that was collected in the American Splendor: Another Dollar paperback.

In addition to his autobiographical work on American Splendor, Pekar wrote a number of biographies. The first of these, 2003's American Splendor: Unsung Hero, documented the Vietnam War experience of Robert McNeill, one of Pekar's African-American coworkers at Cleveland's VA hospital.

Other comics work

On October 5, 2005, the DC Comics imprint Vertigo released Pekar's autobiographical hardcover The Quitter, with artwork by Dean Haspiel. The book detailed Pekar's early years.

In 2006 Pekar released another biography for Ballantine/Random House, Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story, about the life of Michael Malice, who was the founding editor of OverheardinNewYork.com[8]

Pekar was also given the honor of being the first guest editor for the collection The Best American Comics 2006 published by Houghton Mifflin, the first comics publication in the "Best American series" series.

In June 2007 Pekar collaborated with student Heather Roberson and artist Ed Piskor on the book Macedonia, which centers around Roberson's studies in the country.[9][10]

January 2008 saw another biographical work from Pekar, Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History, released through Hill & Wang.

In March 2009 Pekar released The Beats, a history of the Beat Generation including Kerouac and Ginsberg, illustrated by Ed Piskor.[11] In May 2009 he released Studs Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation.

In 2010, Pekar launched a webcomic with the online magazine Smith, titled The Pekar Project.[12]

Theater, music and media appearances

In the late 1980s, Pekar's comic book success led to eight guest appearances on Late Night with David Letterman. His confrontational style and overt on-air criticism of General Electric (which owned NBC) led to the show banning him as a guest until the early 1990s.

Pekar was a prolific freelance jazz and book critic. As a jazz critic he typically focused on significant figures from jazz's golden age but has also championed such out-of-mainstream artists as Birth, Scott Fields, Fred Frith, and Joe Maneri. He has also won awards for his essays which were broadcast on public radio. In August 2007, Pekar was featured on the Cleveland episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations with host Anthony Bourdain.

While American Splendor theater adaptations have occurred before, in 2009 Pekar made his theatrical debut with Leave Me Alone!, a jazz opera for which Pekar wrote the libretto. Leave Me Alone! featured music by Dan Plonsey and premiered at Oberlin College on January 31, 2009.[13]

In 2009, Pekar was featured in The Cartoonist, a documentary film on the life and work of Jeff Smith, creator of Bone.[14]

Personal life

Pekar was married from 1960 to 1972 to his first wife, Karen Delaney, a writer and educator.[15] He was married twice more.[2] Pekar's third wife was writer Joyce Brabner, with whom he collaborated on Our Cancer Year, a graphic novel autobiography of his harrowing yet successful treatment for lymphoma. He lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio with Brabner and their foster daughter Danielle.

Death and legacy

Shortly before 1 a.m. on July 12, 2010, Pekar's wife found him dead in his Cleveland Heights, Ohio, home.[2] Though no immediate cause was determined, Pekar had been suffering from prostate cancer.[2]

Assessing his impact and legacy, fellow cartoonist Seth said,

The underground cartoonists were a generation — a group of artists who knocked down the walls between art and commerce, shattering the traditional shape and meaning of a comic book. Later, the 'alternative' cartoonists came along — or whatever you wish to call my generation of cartoonists — who wanted to produce comics as a legitimate art medium. But in-between these two generations there was Harvey. A generation of one. Probably the first person who wanted to use the comics medium seriously as a writer. Certainly the first person to toss every genre element out the window and try to capture something of the genuine experience of living: not just some technique of real life glossed onto a story — not satire, or sick humor or everyday melodrama — but the genuine desire to transmit from one person to another just what life feels like."[16]

Awards

Bibliography

Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner at Hallwalls, Buffalo, N.Y. Oct. 4, 1985.

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