As far as birthday presents go, I’ve gotten better. An hour ago I received an email from artist Molly Crabapple. “Just heard about Harvey. I'm so so sorry Malice. Damn.” Tense, I checked the Wikipedia to find out that my mentor, my biographer and my friend Harvey Pekar had passed away. “Just found out on Twitter of all things,” Molly let me know. Twitter, email and Wikipedia were things that were not exactly Harvey’s purview. R. Crumb’s cover of Best of American Splendor famously has Harvey cursing at the monitor, frustrating that he can’t learn to work a [bleeping] computer. His movie’s tagline, “ordinary life is pretty complex stuff”, was a bit of a double entendre because everyday things frustrated Harvey.
This is a sad day for comics lovers: Harvey Pekar was found dead by his wife shortly before 1am today. He was 70 years old. The cause of death is unknown. Nowadays, we take it for granted that people can write comic books about anything they want -- not just superheroes -- and that there's a market for them. But that wasn't always the case: Pekar was one of the giants of the medium who, through works like American Splendor and My Cancer Year, established that sequential art is a medium complex enough to take on real-world issues, and subtle enough to present every day life.