Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Quitter

Graphic novel and comic book writer Harvey Pekar died yesterday at the age of 70. His persona probably wouldn’t have allowed him to admit much of anything good ever happened to him.

The final panel of 2005’s The Quitter, illustrated by Dean Haspiel, shows the worried author, in tight closeup and looking directly at us: “I’ve always dreamed of being able to relax and feel trouble-free for long stretches of time. I’m 65 now. Will it ever happen?”

But good things did happen.

One the most fortuitous events would have to be his becoming friends with Robert Crumb, who encouraged Pekar’s comics writing and who lent his own mastery to illustrate some of the Clevelander’s work.

Pekar’s first collection, American Splendor, won the American Book Award in 1987. A few years later the book was made into a sad, charming and intelligent movie starring Paul Giamatti, as Pekar, and Hope Davis, as his wife Joyce Brabner.

His graphic novel, Our Cancer Year, won the Harvey Award in 1994.

Add to that the large number of readers, fans and would-be comics writers he inspired.

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