Harvey Pekar died yesterday at his home in Cleveland. He was 70 years old, and those who have been following his career, or at least saw the movie based on his life, American Splendor, knew that he was diagnosed with cancer years ago. However, it is not yet clear which of his many health problems finally got to him.
Pekar was a fine writer, though largely ignored because he happened to write for the comic-book medium. I first heard of Pekar through his association with his friend and occasional illustrator, the underground comics superstar Robert Crumb. But Pekar’s work could not be more different than Crumb’s surrealistic style. More than anyone else, he showed that the comics can be a subtle yet powerful vehicle for realistic, human stories.