Categories: Guest Strip, News
[Updated, 7.13.10 11:32 EST.]
As I mentioned earlier, I hope to get my own thoughts and feelings on Harvey Pekar’s life—and passing—on paper later today. There will be enough cut-and-paste tributes to the man in the days to come. The last thing I want to do is add to that glut.
Of course, it should be pointed out that the fact that stories have been pouring in from every news outlet large and small is a testament to just how great his influence was, particularly from an era when independent comics were, at best, a mainstream curiosity.
So, while I struggle to pen something longer, I’ll let some of my cartoonists friends do the talking for me. I’ve asked a number of artists and industry professionals to send in their thoughts, memories, and condolences.
If you’re a cartoonist who would like to add his or her thoughts or art to the list, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We continue to add to the post as long as people keep sending stuff in.
Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly
The passing of Harvey Pekar is just too sad for words. Besides becoming one of the most influential comics writers of the late 20th and early 21st Century, Harvey was a genuine, no BS and yes quirky guy, who made every conversation with him special and lively. he was passionate about comics and lots of other things and I was lucky to get to know him a bit back in the early 1990s–I think we even went to Jazz concert. He even reviewed comics for me and PW for awhile back in 2003. He was a great artist who found an audience for his work the old fashioned way–he just kept at it until the audience found him and his terrific work. We’ll miss you Harvey
I didn’t know Harvey as well as most —we shared the oddball kinship of being Jewish creators hailing from the Great Lakes—but found myself lucky enough to meet him at a Small Press Expo. Tentatively asking if he’d would mind reading Brownsville‘s pre-publication galley, I got the thrill of a lifetime when Harvey offered to blurb the book. I’ll never forget our phone conversation of several months later, as I attempted to wrangle the quote, and Harvey admitted having trouble nailing what it was he wanted to say. Launching into a half-hour beat-inspired monologue, Harvey rendered me speechless as his unique way of speaking washed over, covering me in intelligent and thoughtful words of support, inspiration and information I’ll never forget. 45 minutes after we’d started, Harvey finished with “…and I still don’t know how to quote it!” to which I replied, “Harvey… you just DID quote it.” Together, we distilled that monologue to its essence, and from then on I felt a strong bond to my landsman from the Lakes, one that will stay with me through his words, his genius, his amazing books and that one long, strange trip of a phone conversation I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Harvey Pekar was a huge influence on me. He taught me that just because nothing interesting happens, you can’t make a great comic out of it. You can say a lot of things about him, but you can’t say he died a failure.
I was near the front of the line to get into a antique book sale in Cleveland, in the very early 1970s. I heard the guy behind me mention to his companion that he was going to be working on a comic book venture with Robert Crumb. Crumb was/is my hero. I whirled around and introduced myself–to Harvey Pekar. Introduced myself to the guy who soon foisted American Splendor onto the world, and, in doing so, went to the front of the line of literary comics, hell, he invented them. Everyone else got in line behind him.
The most important lesson I learnt from Harvey Pekar’s comics? If you’ve got a story then tell it. Although in truth, most peoples everyday monologues aren’t up to Mr Pekar’s, he knew how to tell a tale and tell it well. Like a lot of great artists I think it was the fact that it felt like he was talking directly to you personally, that warmed so many to his writing. I’m glad he shared his stories, we were lucky to have heard them.
I feel extremely lucky to have known the man for the little bit that I did. It will be impossible to forget Harvey Pekar. That’s all that I can say right now.
The first time I talked with Harvey, he was really concerned that I was paid properly for the job we were working on: “I just wanted to make sure that you got all your bread, man.” I thought that was pretty cool of him. I’m sorry we won’t have a chance to work together again.
Ellen Abramowitz, MoCCA President
It is with sadness that we say goodbye to a wonderful writer and comics innovator, Harvey Pekar. He truly we be remembered as an “American Splendor”.