This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 8, 2017: Just Now

October 8, 2017: birthday: Harvey Pekar

It’s the birthday of comic book writer Harvey Pekar (books by this author), born in Cleveland, Ohio (1939). He liked comic books as a kid, but stopped reading them when he was a teenager, thinking they were kids’ stuff. He went to college, dropped out, tried to join the Army and failed, and ended up as a file clerk for the VA hospital in Cleveland, a job he held for almost 40 years. He got some work writing about jazz, but never enough to live on. Then his friend and neighbor Robert Crumb, a comic book artist, suggested that Pekar write about the ins and outs of his daily life. He did, and Crumb illustrated it along with some other artists. Beginning in 1976, these comics about Pekar’s life with his wife, at the office, going to the grocery store, and complaining about his existence were published as American Splendor. The comic had a small cult following, and then in 2003 it was made into a popular movie starring Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, but also featuring Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, as well as their cartoon versions.

He said, “People should have their own voice and should contribute to the vocabulary of the art form they’re working in rather than copying other people.”