Experience the heartwarming, all-American story of a crank
and his comic book... Thanks to the American
Harvey Pekar is now known around the world. But how did a
former file clerk from Cleveland come up with an Oscar nomination?
The story begins in 1976, when Harvey began publishing his
autobiographical, slide-of-downtrodden-life comic book, illustrated
by a who's who of underground comic artists, including R.
Crumb, Frank Stack, Gary Dumm and Joe Sacco...
the heartwarming, all-American story..."?Heartwarming?
I think not. Victor Meldrew's tales in One Foot in the
Grave are heartwarming. Harvey Pekar's stories are, for
the main part, dull, self-centred, childish and pathetic.
sympathy you may have for the man (he did go through a scare
with cancer and has a problem with his hip) quickly vanish
when you hear such wonderful speeches as:
I feel like a cripple though. This is the kind of simple-ass
work they give volunteers who are too f***ed-up to hold
a regular job."
didn't know sh*t about any kind of music, let alone jazz.
So I looked up this guy I went to High School with, Aaron,
who was a jazz trumpeter... I wasn't tight with him; in
fact, I considered him kind of dull-witted, but who else
could I turn to?"
to repay the guy who helped you get work reviewing jazz records
- and was instrumental (no pun intended) in allowing you to
make your breakthrough with regard to getting the world to
notice the work of Django Reinhardt. Nice
one Pekar. Way to come off like a self-important, arrogant
I mentioned in my review of American
Splendor: Our Movie Year, Pekar is a pretty
unlikeable character. While he may be honest in his writing
(although, as he seems to know everything, I doubt he's being
truly honest in the retelling of his tales), and we get to
see his life warts and all, it's not something that the majority
of people will generally be entertained by.
is a no one. Fame came to him by a happy accident rather than
through any real talent. His stories are lame, self-centred
and, quite frankly repetitive - with him moaning about anything
and everything. Now while, as I mentioned earlier, One
Foot in the Grave follows a similar path, that programme
works because it's amusing, and we can all relate to Meldrew's
plight. American Splendor fails because it isn't funny
and Pekar alienates everyone around him. How can you like
a man who is so self-absorbed that he moans about his life
all the time.
The world does not owe you a living. It's what you make of
it. As far as I can see Pekar has made a pretty good life
for himself, all things considering, yet he still finds plenty
to moan about - in an unfunny way. Actually, his complains
almost sound like that of a spoilt infant who sits in a corner
sulking because he didn't get a toy he wanted.
of the enjoyable stories in this collection are ones that
don't feature Pekar as the main character. There is an untitled,
uncredited tale about an autistic comic writer with Asperger's
syndrome. All indications are that this strip was submitted
to Pekar and published as he received it. But cleverly, by
not crediting the guy, Pekar manages to (maybe unwittingly)
pass this story off as his own - a crime when you consider
he bangs on about plagiarism earlier in this collection.
there's Shifra's story (another uncredited tale) which follows
the life of a woman whose family emigrated from Poland when
she was a young woman. This is "heartwarming" and
worth about a thousand Pekar tales. In fact, it was this story,
more than any, that made me realise that we had learned a
whole lot about one woman in a single story than we have about
Pekar in a whole volume of stories.
buy this complete waste of space of a collection. If you want
to get the same result, for free, go and find a typical Sun
newspaper reader, who is drunk, and ask them their views on
immigration and same sex marriages.
The result will be just as satisfying.
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