I send heartfelt condolences to Harvey's wife, daughter, family and friends.
SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
Monday, July 12, 2010
Just read in the New York Times that Harvey Pekar has passed away. I didn't really know Harvey—we met at a convention in the 80's and, as a result, had a brief, spirited correspondence debating the merits of realism versus fantasy in fiction—but his work certainly had an impact on me. It was then-Marvel editor Denny O'Neil who turned me on to American Splendor, a series that helped explode the (imaginary) limits of what a comic book could or couldn't be. Pekar's writing was absolutely naked—brutal and hugely funny—in its honesty. In its wonderfully odd and idiosyncratic way, it was also wise. Harvey brought an outsider's eye to comic book art, as well: the American Splendor strips taught me the value of the static image, how something as simple as a single talking head, repeated panel after panel after panel, could gather in emotional power. I was deep into Moonshadow—and in the first stages of planning Brooklyn Dreams—when I started reading Pekar's stories: a careful look at both those works will reveal the Pekar influence.
Posted by J.M. DeMatteis at 12:44 PM
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JM, this is a concise and telling tribute. Your comment about the 'talking head' building in emotion really struck me. Too true. I was just re-reading "I'll be Forty Three on Friday" and it's just Harvey walking through a park. And he talks about his two divorces and his state of happiness and what other people think of their own lives...And yet so much is happening as a result of him just 'talking'!ReplyDelete
Really he's one of the best writers the medium has ever had. A true American original.
I saw a post on Twitter this morning from Matt Fraction: "So harvey pekar gets to the gates of heaven and goes, 'man, look at this line.'"
Rest in Peace, Harvey.
I have to say it like this: That motherf****** was one of a kind.ReplyDelete
To me, he was on par with Wil Eisner.
"A true American original" indeed, Javier. Thanks so much for sharing those thoughts.ReplyDelete
Absolutely "one of a kind," Nicholas. And he had some "one of a kind" collaborators -- artists like R. Crumb and Dean Haspiel -- bringing his stories to life.ReplyDelete
Beautiful tribute, JMD.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Dean. And the tribute you wrote (and drew) for today's LOS ANGELES TIMES was very touching.ReplyDelete
Very glad you appreciated it, John. Maybe you can do a WORD BALLOON podcast devoted to Harvey.ReplyDelete
True. I owe Dean Haspiel a new talk as it is...ReplyDelete
A Harvey-centric show with Dean would be great, John.ReplyDelete
Probably as important to comics, in the long run, as Kirby. The quintessential "working class hero". Inspirational not only for his stories but for his STORY: the way he listened to his artistic soul and gave it expression. The meta weaving of comics and his life, how they fed into each other--nothing short of amazing. Not bad for such a down-to-earth guy. Enjoy, Harv!ReplyDelete
"The meta-weaving of comics and his life." Perfectly said, Jeff. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Regarding the Kirby comparison: from what I know about Jack, he could have taken the same route as Harvey with equally edifying results. We had the barest glimpse of it in Street Code. The way he dressed up his passions in the Fourth World books resembles the Moonshadow/Brooklyn Dreams relationship of which you've spoken. No slight to Kirby was intended, just gratitude that Harvey was there to blaze his own trail.ReplyDelete
I hear you, Jeff. It's interesting that my brief connection with Harvey revolved around the discussion of fantasy fiction versus so-called reality: "the MOONSHADOW/BROOKLYN DREAMS relationship," as you put it. I think you know where I stand: go deep enough into so-called reality and you end up in the world of the unreal...or perhaps super-real is a better way to put it. Dive into a universe of fantasy and find your own face gazing back at you.ReplyDelete
Speaking of the universe of fantasy: made my first book purchase on my wife's Kindle this week; bet you can guess which book!ReplyDelete
Bless you, Jeff!ReplyDelete