Book Review

American Splendor by Harvey Pekar

American Splendor by Harvey Pekar

Already looking like it could be one of the films of the year American Splendor shows that comic books continue to offer extremely fertile source material for film-makers. American Splendor isn't capes, crusaders and crazy leggings, though. Originally an underground bestselling monthly comic book (ie something that sold on its own merits over a long period of time) Splendor is effectively the stylised biography of Harvey Pekar - a long line of real (and literary) nobodies that has decided that the quotidian is worth quoting back at us. And its excellent.

Most famous for his collaborations with fellow underground icon Robert Crumb, American Splendor was, in fact, drawn by a number of different artists who include Kevin Brown, Gregory Budgett, Sean Carroll, Sue Cavey, Gary Drumm, Val Mayerik and Gerry Shamray. Whilst this gives the book a slightly uneven feel it also serves to bring our attention back to the original monthly format, which is no bad thing. The strength of the comic lies in Pekar's sensitivity to lowlife existential pain: Harvey suffers because he is poor, but also because his (our) life is essentially meaningless. He communicates this through a series of sundry, mundane and comic confrontations with - and in - everyday life. As Pekar says, "ordinary life is pretty complex stuff" and American Splendor investigates that complexity in as quiet yet compelling way as you can hope to find. A credit to the "graphic novel" form.

-- Reviewed by Mark Thwaite on 30/08/2004

Further Information
ISBN-10: 1840237872
ISBN-13: 97818402378710
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 23/01/2004
Binding: Paperback
Number of pages: 320

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