Friday, October 07, 2005
“You can do as much with comics as the novel or movies or plays or anything. Comics are words an’ pictures; you can do anything with words an’ pictures!” --Harvey Pekar
For those of you who have read NYComix, the influence of Harvey Pekar on my work is hard to miss. Growing up in a small town, the only comics I had access to were Marvel and a few DC books. It wasn’t until my first year at Pratt that I discovered Pekar’s work. Ereisa bought me an R. Crumb Trade Paperback and in it were a bunch of comics that he did with Pekar. I reread them quite a few times and realized that what might seem like simple “talking heads” comics at first glace, are actually very complex stories that anyone can relate to. Pekar’s comics were like a punch in the stomach. After reading them I realized that I’m missing so many amazing comics by reading only Superhero stuff.
Last Wednesday marked the release of Pekar’s latest work, The Quitter, and, after reading it last night I think it’s his best work. With local Brooklyn artist Dean Haspiel, The Quitter tells the story of Pekar’s childhood and, as with all of his work, it’s brutally honest and real. Pekar has a reputation as a curmudgeon or a cranky old man, but after reading The Quitter, you’ll learn that there’s a reason for his unique personality.
There are many, many autobiographical comics being made today (mine included), but since 1972, Harvey Pekar is and will continue to be the best in the genre.
So, if you’ve never bought an “independent” comic before, go buy The Quitter. (It’s a Vertigo book from DC Comics, if that makes you Corporate comic junkies feel better) After you read it, lend it to a friend who hasn’t read a black and white comic or better yet, lend it to a friend who has never read a comic before. It’s a perfect example of what comics should be and a perfect example of the kind of work that can show the general non-comic reading public that comics aren’t just tights and capes for kids.