Harvey Pekar died yesterday. He was 70. For the comic book world, this is a big blow. Pekar was one of the three people tied to the rise of underground comix in the 60s/70s. The other two are Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb. Though there were others, these three men were instrumental, in my opinion, as the people who made the movement legitimate and not merely about getting away with depicting things that could not be printed in mainstream books. Pekar was known for his heralded and harrowing autobiographical series of books known as “American Splendor,” which always depicted Pekar as a cantankerous individual, angry at the world and showing no remorse for this. He was a great writer and his impact on the world of comics will always be felt. There will always be one crazy kid who will be found dumbstruck by the genius of “American Splendor” and his life will be forever changed. That’s gonna be Pekar’s impact on comics.
In the 80s, Pekar was a frequent guest of David Letterman on his “Late Show.” These clips are here as a tribute to him. At the bottom is a scene of Paul Giamatti as Pekar from the 2003 film “American Splendor.” His monologue is taken verbatim from Pekar’s first installment of “American Splendor.”