NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

harvey-pekar-american-splendor-cover1.jpglisten.gifFRESH AIR

Comic book writer Harvey Pekar, who published a series of caustically funny autobiographical stories about the ups and downs of everyday life, died Monday morning. He was 70. Pekar started writing his series American Splendor in 1976, almost two decades before his life story was adapted into the 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti. The series touched on the prosaic quirks of a file clerk working to make ends meet — while Pekar mused on everything from collecting jazz records to dealing with annoying friends and strangers on the street. Pekar appeared on Fresh Air twice — first in 2003 with wife Joyce Brabner to discuss his book-length comic Our Cancer Year, about his diagnosis with lymphoma; and then in 2005 to discuss his upbringing as the son of Jewish immigrants in Cleveland in the 1950s and ’60s. In that interview, he explained to Terry Gross why he continued writing comics — even though public attention didn’t come to him until much later in his life. “I was sort of on a mission with American Splendor,” Pekar explained. “I wanted to try to prove that comics could do things. I wanted to expand them beyond superheroes and talking animals. And I knew that was going to take a long time. But I just started writing an autobiography about my quotidian life. Because I think everybody’s life is interesting, and I just kept on going at it.”

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