American Splendor is the series that sparked a revolution in comics and brought graphic novels to the attention of post-adolescent readers everywhere. Here is the best of American Splendor and other comics by Harvey Pekar, including never-before-seen material.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Catcher in the Rye, Notes from Underground, On the Road, and American Splendor. These are the most introspective and honest books I've ever read. Yet, only one of them has pictures. Harvey Pekar's New American Splendor Anthology, and the others in this series, embody my reason for writing. His absolutely unabashed honesty on the seemingly inane minutiae of his own excrutiatingly mediocre life effects a stilling reflection in the reader. It encourages a reflection on the 'small' moments of barely noticed life. Moments like when you realize to your helpless chagrin that you sold a much loved collection of records, baseball cards, or what have you, for the immediate gratification of the latest 'must-have-it' gadget. Maybe that's a larger representation of the emotions so expertly described here, but all of them are understated and artistically orchestrated. In this culture of extreme overstatement, the invitation to think, meditate and reflect on this author's personal travails is a warm sink into the easy chair of legitimate and worthwhile thought. Beyond the words, the artwork seems to catch the human experience in the most revealing of milleius. Every frame catches the character's faces at it's most expressive, making each painted pate the open breezy, oftentimes deeply flawed, window into their respective souls. American Splendor has as much meaning as your willing to give it, very much the way you notice a stranger walking past you on the street. Give him a glance and he's no one. Give him your attention, and he'll earn his humanity in your heart.
I came on the site to read other people's opinions of Pekar's work and couldn't believe that no one else had posted as yet. Ah well, I suppose no ever wants to do much work for someone else. Pekar is almost an American institution by this point, at least for me. I find his books wherever and whenever I can. At comic stores or in the bigger trade editions if I haven't been reading in a while. Either way Harvey strikes me as a throwback to a nineteenth century or even European form of storytelling. The American mind seems poised now (or even for the last fifty years) to expect action and even to demand it. Action not in any plainspoken and realistic sense, but that there be heartbreak on every page, someone's child dies! the bank is going to foreclose on the farm! And more such blather. Instead, what I think Pekar does best is to allow for introspection on the page. A very dangerous thing. After all, in less capable hands all you wold have is a guy standing around. But when a vivid and active mind like Pekar's is on the plate one can't help but enjoy watching it ruminate and reflect. Also, what I find is never talked about (largely because of most white people's complete lack of interaction with black people) is that Harvey does an truly satisfying job of illustrating the black people around him (obviously along with all the white people) as real human beings. They are not helpers or givers of sage advice, not flattened sexualized stereotypes or criminal monsters leering from the darkness. They are funny, obstinate, unfriendly and cheerful. They sell pickled okra (okry!) in the office and buy sides from Harvey at the hospital. As a black reader/writer who would like to enjoy work done by all types of artists I am most often stopped and disgusted by the ways in which black people seems to disappear entirely from the white eye or when they do turn up their humanity has been drained entirely (see Woody Allen's Manhattan before the one with the blakc prostitute and then the one with the black prostitute when he'd finally been heckled too much about not having any black people--I myself would have preferred he left us alone). All this is to say that Harvey Pekar is a sterling writer. Very truly an original. I wish I could buy five hundred thousand copies of his big books so the man could have more dough lining his pockets.