Thursday, February 19, 2009

Harvey Pekar Harumphs His Way to My Heart

A couple of days ago I attended a phenomenal event featuring a discussion with Harvey Pekar - the third in a series hosted by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, titled "Comics and the Jewish American Dream." Harvey Pekar (n00bs: the guy behind American Splendor) sat on a stage with Danny Fingeroth (comic book writer/editor: wiki-peer at him here) and answered questions, extrapolated on details from his American Splendor days, and shared his upcoming plans for more books, books, books (projects I'll discuss separately in the future, of course).

And he won't lie to you - he'll say it like it is. He tries to do four books or projects a year to keep the finances rolling in; not that he doesn't enjoy the art, but that's just how it is, it's his job.

SIDENOTE: Getting INTO this event was like getting onto Airforce One (although getting into my Airforce Ones is a cushy, comfortable joy with great arch support). The Institute for Jewish Research had one of the most hardcore security systems I've ever experienced: metal detectors, pat-downs, pocket-emptying, bag-scanning. It was serious - we Jews keep it reals.

If you haven't read his The Quitter yet, a collab with webcomix king and prolific illustrator Dean Haspiel, you'd know less about how Harvey feels about obligation and occupation - but I can say that despite his past tendencies to give up on things, his sticktoitness in the book industry is a welcome asset.

Click "Read More" for the rest!

After the event, I went with a friend (also a friend of Harvey's) to go shake his hand, exchange pleasantries. Drinks were planned on being had afterwards with a few of us and Harvey at a local pub, but he was just simply tuckered. I couldn't imagine "drinking" with Harvey Pekar anyway, especially in the physical state he seemed to be in. I know he'd been suffering some health issues, and I'm sure the last thing he wanted to do was coddle beers with some twenty and thirty-somethings.

Either way, we clinked our glasses to Harvey while he sat in his hotel room, probably sleeping. But he doesn't really care about all that. Isn't that why we love him?

NOTE: Thanks to Gary Dunaier, from whose Flickr Photostream I grabbed the event photos.


Anonymous said...

HUGE fan of Pekar. Loved the movie too....

man-size said...

I wish I hadn't been dog sick and holed up working at the studio. Thx for this nice report.

mr felix said...

Sounds like it was a cool event. He really is an interesting man. I like his brutal honesty.

Paul Brazill said...

He's great. He helped me loath Letterman -although you don't need much help to do that, really.

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