Monday, July 12, 2010

Breaking News: Harvey Pekar Dead at 70

This is a particularly sad and (somewhat) unexpected bit of news: multiple sources, including The AP, are reporting that American Splendor author and indie comics legend Harvey Pekar was found dead in his home today. He was 70.

Pekar, who had been suffering from a number of ailments including prostate cancer, first began publishing his groundbreaking autobiographical comic book in 1976 and attracted a who's who of artists to depict his introspective, street level stories of the mundanities and dilemmas of an average Joe's life. Though he was well known in the underground comics community, he vaulted to national fame in the late 1980's thanks to some highly publicized appearances on Late Night With David Letterman, a show he was temporarily banned from thanks to his refusal to play ball on Letterman's terms. The appearance gave Pekar a cult following and became one of the show's classic episodes, eventually leading to return appearances for Pekar.

In 2003, Pekar also became the subject of a groundbreaking film, also titled American Splendor, that featured Pual Giamatti as Pekar in an experimental structure that liberally mixed dramatic scenes with documentary and interview footage liberally interspersed.

Even through his illness, Pekar continued writing new stories for American Splendor, vowing to continue writing it for as long as he lived. Sadly for all comic fans, that time has come to an end. Here's a look at Pekar's Letterman appearance and Giamatti as Pekar from the film version of American Splendor:

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