>American Splendor

>Originally posted March 24, 2007.

Comics, that’s kids stuff, right?
Well, that’s what I thought as well for quite some time.
As a kid I was kind of obsessed with Spider-Man for some years, but by the time he’d went black I was out there riding my skateboard and listening to records instead. I guess I wasn’t into comics that much after all. I still find Spider-Man among the coolest of superheroes, though. He’s metal, you know, the way he shoots his net making the sign of Satan:

However, I didn’t quite realize that there were “adult” comics (except for the crappy “erotic” shit) until I got hold of some anime movies (which I bought from the drummer in Sator, by the way! This was in 1990…). Those movies made me rediscover comics in a way. But since the style still was that wild and crazy shit it didn’t make any lasting impressions. It was fun for the moment and then forgotten about.

In 2003 I saw American Splendor. Yeah, I’m one of those late losers who discovered Harvey Pekar through that movie. I really loved the film, so I bought Our Cancer Year, one of his and his wife’s comic books that they based the movie upon. And it fucking touched my soul, I tell you!

American Splendor is all about life, death and the things that matters – things and thoughts that at first may seem pointless, but after some consideration may turn into mindbending visions. It did for me.
I spent a lot of time thinking after reading Our Cancer Year, the same kind of thinking that may occur after reading a really thick, good book or seeing a mindfucking movie. I just love the way that a few strokes and a few lines can get your thoughts going.

Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff
. That’s probably the best and most accurate summarization ever, even though it’s become quite a tiresome cliché since the movie hit the charts.

Harvey’s life is drawn by a lot of different artists (Our Cancer Year excluded, which is fully drawn by Frank Stack), and that in itself makes this comic really interesting. Here’s just a few examples of how some artists perceive our man:

And of course I identify with Harvey. He’s just an honest and literate guy with a sense for politics and music. Him being a Jew and just being so goddamn tired of the exploitation of the Holocaust is a revelation. This strip is from 1994:

And the cover of The New American Splendor Anthology has the coolest quote:

When I was younger I thought about women constantly… I was always running around looking for a good time… Now I’ve matured, my priorities have changed. I’m aware of what’s really important: CRUSHING MY ENEMIES.

The fact that I discovered American Splendor so late bugs me. I’ve missed so much. Harvey’s been doing his comics since 1976! Bah…

Harvey Pekar – homepage and blog
American Splendor – The movie
A list of some of his comics

Other adult comics that’s touched my soul lately:

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