Harvey Pekar, ‘American Splendor’ Creator, Dead At 70

Harvey Pekar’s life in and out of comics cultivated his well-earned, thick-skinned reputation for speaking his mind and perpetually questioning the world around him. Whether it was kicking off his recent webcomics series “The Pekar Project” or provoking David Letterman, Pekar never seemed to hide what was on his chest, and for that he’ll be remembered long after his death this week as a unique and adaptive voice in the world of comics.

Pekar was found dead just before 1 AM at his home in Cleveland Heights, OH, according to Cleveland.com. Cleveland and Pekar’s world there became monumental in and of themselves within his work, as did Pekar’s feelings on mortality in his story “Our Cancer Year,” which he co-created with his wife Joyce Brabner.

Pekar managed to transcend the world of underground comics where his work began amassing an audience, and he remains one of a handful of talents to cross over into more mainstream publishers such as Dark Horse, DC/Vertigo and even Houghton Mifflin, where he guest edited their 2006 Best American Comics anthology.

Outside of comics, he’ll probably be remembered best as the basis for Paul Giamatti’s character in Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s 2003 Oscar-nominated “American Splendor” film, but for readers and colleagues, he’ll be discussed long into the future as a conversationalist and brilliant mind who discussed the world exactly as he saw it.

How will you remember Harvey Pekar? Which of his books stand out for you in his career? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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