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This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2010) Harvey Pekar Born Harvey Lawrence Pekar October 8, 1939(1939-10-08) Cleveland, Ohio, United States Died July 12, 2010(2010-07-12) (aged 70) Cleveland Heights, Ohio, United States Occupation Comic book writer, filing clerk, music & literary critic Nationality American Genres Underground comics Subjects Autobiography harveypekar.com Harvey Lawrence Pekar (pronounced /ˈpiːkɑr/; October 8, 1939 – July 12, 2010) 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] Contents 1 Early life 2 Career 2.1 American Splendor 2.2 American Splendor film 2.3 Other comics work 3 Theater, music and media appearances 4 Personal life 5 Death 6 Posthumous Work 7 Awards 8 Bibliography 9 References 10 External links // 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 held this job even after becoming famous, finally retiring in 2001.[2] Career American Splendor 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. American Splendor film 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, American Splendor: Unsung Hero (2003), 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 the first guest editor for the collection The Best American Comics 2006 published by Houghton Mifflin, the first comics collection 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 Jack Kerouac and Allen 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,[13] 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.[14] In 2009, Pekar was featured in The Cartoonist, a documentary film on the life and work of Jeff Smith, creator of Bone.[15] Personal life Pekar was married from 1960 to 1972 to his first wife, Karen Delaney. His second wife was Helen Lark Hall. 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 Shortly before 1 a.m. on July 12, 2010, Pekar's wife found him dead in his Cleveland Heights, Ohio, home.[2] No immediate cause was determined. Pekar had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in his life and about to undergo treatment.[2][16] In October 2010, it was determined that Pekar's cause of death was an accidental overdose of antidepressants fluoxetine and bupropion.[17] Pekar was cremated and buried in Lake View Cemetery, next to Eliot Ness.[18] Assessing his influence 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.[19] ” Posthumous Work According to a September 2010 New York Times article, many Pekar works are planned to be released posthumously [18]: Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland - A graphic history of the city of Cleveland, Ohio and Pekar's upbringing there. Illustrated by Joseph Remnant (Zip Comics). Huntington, West Virginia, "On the Fly" - Stories of Pekar promoting the 2003 American Splendor film (Random House). Harvey and Joyce’s Big Book of Marriage - Co-authored by Joyce Brabner (Random House) Not the Israel My Parents Promised - Pekar's thoughts on Zionism and Israel. Illustrated by JT Waldman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Awards 1987: American Book Award for the first American Splendor anthology[2] 1995: Harvey Award Best Graphic Album of Original Work (for Our Cancer Year)[20] Bibliography Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner at Hallwalls, Buffalo, New York (October 4, 1985) American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar (Doubleday, 1986) More American Splendor (Doubleday, 1987) ISBN 0-385-24073-2 The New American Splendor Anthology (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1991) ISBN 0-941423-64-6 Our Cancer Year, with Joyce Brabner and Frank Stack (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1994) ISBN 1-56858-011-8 American Splendor Presents: Bob & Harv's Comics, with R. Crumb (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996) ISBN 1-56858-101-7 American Splendor: Unsung Hero, with David Collier (Dark Horse, 2003) ISBN 1-59307-040-3 American Splendor: Our Movie Year (Ballantine Books, 2004) ISBN 0-345-47937-8 Best of American Splendor (Ballantine Books, 2005) ISBN 0-345-47938-6 The Quitter, with Dean Haspiel (DC/Vertigo, 2005) ISBN 1-4012-0399-X Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story, with Gary Dumm (Ballantine Books, 2006) ISBN 0-345-47939-4 Macedonia, with Heather Roberson and Ed Piskor (Ballantine Books, 2006) ISBN 0-3454-9899-2 American Splendor: Another Day (DC/Vertigo, 2007) ISBN 978-1-4012-1235-3 Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History (Hill and Wang, 2008) ISBN 978-0809095391 American Splendor: Another Dollar (2009) ISBN 978-1-4012-2173-7 The Beats (2009) ISBN 978-0-2856-3858-7 Studs Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation (2009) ISBN 978-1-59558-321-5 Circus Parade by Jim Tully. Foreword by Harvey Pekar. Introduction by Paul J. Bauer and Mark Dawidziak. (Kent State Univ. Press, 2009) 978-1-60635-001-0 References ^ "Harvey Pekar" (obituary), The Daily Telegraph, July 13, 2010 ^ a b c d Connors, Joanna. "Cleveland Comic-Book Legend Harvey Pekar Dead at Age 70", The Plain Dealer, July 12, 2010; "He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and also suffered high blood pressure, asthma and clinical depression, which fueled his art but often made his life painful." ^ "Who is Harvey Pekar?", WKSU.org ^ Momo College ^ "Harvey Pekar", Metajam.mobi ^ IMDB Movie Page. Retrieved December 28, 2008. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008). "American Splendor". In Dougall, Alastair. The Vertigo Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 21. ISBN 0-7566-4122-5. OCLC 213309015  ^ Overheard in New York | The Voice of the City ^ Macedonia - Yahoo! Shopping ^ Sequart Research & Literacy Organization Columns - High-Low #15: Pekar, Piskor and a Preview of Macedonia ^ "Novel Graphics looks at Hoover, Beats, Genetics" San Diego Comicon International v2, July 13, 2006. Retrieved July 10, 2008. ^ "The Pekar Project". Smithmag.net. http://www.smithmag.net/pekarproject. Retrieved 2010-07-12.  ^ http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/07/13/harvey-pekar-a-timeline-of-a-comic-book-icon/ ^ Leave Me Alone - About the Opera ^ "The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone and the Changing Face of Comics". Thecartoonistmovie.com. http://www.thecartoonistmovie.com. Retrieved 2010-07-12.  ^ William Grimes (July 12, 2010). "Harvey Pekar, ‘American Splendor’ Creator, Dies at 70". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/arts/design/13pekar.html?ref=harvey_pekar. Retrieved 2010-09-02. "A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office said that no cause of death had yet been determined. Capt. Michael Cannon of the Cleveland Heights Police Department, which was summoned to Mr. Pekar’s home by his wife, Joyce Brabner, told The Associated Press that Mr. Pekar had suffered from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression."  ^ Galbinca, Pat (2010-10-20). "Coroner rules that Harvey Pekar's death due to 'natural causes'". Cleveland Plain-Dealer. http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/10/coroner_rules_that_harvey_peka.html. Retrieved 2010-10-20.  ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (September 1, 2010). "The Unsettled Afterlife of Harvey Pekar". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/arts/design/05pekar.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&bl.  ^ Spurgeon, Tom. The Comics Reporter: "Harvey Pekar 1939-2010", July 13, 2010 ^ "The Harvey Awards". The Harvey Awards. http://www.harveyawards.org/awards_1995win.html. Retrieved 2010-07-12.  External links This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. Please improve this article by removing excessive and inappropriate external links. (November 2010) Harvey Pekar's official website Redirects to New Line Cinema's official website for American Splendor "Harvey Pekar, ‘American Splendor’ Creator, Dies at 70" William Grimes, The New York Times, 12 July 2010 "His Everyday Life Was in His Comics" Stephen Miller, The Wall Street Journal, 13 July 2010 Interview on The Sound of Young America: MP3 Link New York Press Interview Walrus Comix interview Article by James Hynes about Pekar's last appearance on Late Night with David Letterman Harvey Pekar at the Internet Movie Database List of American Splendor collaborators Archive of Pekar's Jazz Reviews for the Austin Chronicle Another archive of Jazz reviews November 10, 2005 Interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross Profile of and Commentaries by Pekar on WKSU-FM, Kent, Ohio Preview of "The Beats" Boppin' With Pekar, a one-hour public radio program on jazz history with Harvey Pekar, Jerry Zolten, and Phoebe Gloeckner Online obituary for Harvey Pekar "Harvey Pekar dead: American Splendor comic writer was 70" Terence McArdle, The Washington Post, 13 July 2010 Nerd's Eye View - A Farewell to Harvey Pekar "Tribute in La Cucaracha" Persondata Name Pekar, Harvey Alternative names Short description Date of birth October 8, 1939 Place of birth Cleveland, Ohio, United States Date of death July 12, 2010 Place of death Cleveland Heights, Ohio,