So Long Mr. Cantankerous

I use a dappled brush in Photoshop to make the reflection on Pea’s glasses. Scott commented he’d never seen it actually used by anyone and honestly, I don’t know what else you would use it for.

News has been out for a few days about the death of Harvey Pekar but I shouldn’t let it go by without saying a few words. I admit to being one of those people who had never heard of him before American Splendor came out with Paul Giamatti, but it instantly became one of my favorite movies. I love the way the film contrasts real with portrayal, bringing in Harvey occasionally to provide his perspective on how his life was being described on screen. After all his appearances on David Letterman and the autobiographical nature of his comic, Harvey Pekar is probably better known for his grouchy personality and personal flaws than he is for his writing. But inspired by the movie, I dove into his work to make up for lost time, and discovered some of the most touching, poignant and insightful material I’ve ever read in comic form. His explorations of the male mindset are honest and brutal. The failing relationships he had with women laid blame at his own feet more often than not. Pekar showed the unpleasant side of reality and somehow managed to make it, in the end, a life worth living, because he ultimately celebrated knowing good people over financial success. There is a scene in the movie where somebody calls out to him that they saw him on Letterman, and Pekar snarls back, “So buy my comic!” I did and so should you.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

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