Harvey Pekar was found dead this morning at his home by his wife of 27 years, cartoonist Joyce Brabner. The autobiographical comics written by this Cleveland resident put his city on the map; in some of his best work, including Our Cancer Year (co-written by Brabner) and The Quitter, Pekar expanded the boundaries of what graphic literature can do. He exalted the humble and ridiculed the lofty, and preserved the kind of life that gets overlooked in celeberity culture. I had the privilege of interviewing the man a few times: once on the release of Our Cancer Year and once when the film version of American Splendor came out.
And then there was this article when Pekar was still in development hell.
Some other links: Pekar was long-time Metro contributor. Here he is on lesser-known beat Herbert Huncke, on author Samuel Ornitz, on Alison Bechdel before she made it big with Fun Home. Here’s Pekar on Robert Musil, author of Young Torliss and The Man Without Qualities. He weighed in on clarinetist Don Byron, on Debut Records (a label owned by Charlie Mingus and Max Roach), as well as on klezmer.
We’ll all miss him. Though he delighted in chronicling his neuroses and fears, he was a brave and honorable man.