I didn’t get a lot of reading done in August, but when Manfred, Jr. showed me that there was a new American Splendor graphic novel out, I jumped all over his copy.
I’ve been a big fan of Harvey Pekar’s since I first saw the movie version of American Splendor– this also made me a fan of Paul Giamatti*, who played Pekar.
It seems a stroke of genius on Pekar’s part to go against the grain of what comics are generally made of — superheroes — and write about the everyday life of the everyday man. Although I can never forget my beloved Nick Fury and the many other heroes of the Marvel and DC Universes, Harvey Pekar keeps my attention captured with his stories of grocery shopping, fixing (and not fixing) the toilet, looking for his missing cat, picking up his foster daughter during a wicked snowstorm and his ongoing cacophony of worries about millions of other things in his life.
What is it about these guys, these writers from Cleveland that have me so enthralled? Don Robertson and Harvey Pekar, both writers influenced soundly by the school of naturalism, have a way of looking at the world that strongly touches me. Although I haven’t read all of Robertson’s novels, I know it’ll be a sad day when I finally do get through the canon. As for Pekar, although he’s nearing the 70-mark, he shows no signs of slowing down. Good.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that American Splendor: Another Day –Volume I has some really great drawing by various artists including Dean Haspiel, Gary Dumm, Gilbert Hernandez and Eddie Campbell. It’s really interesting and funny to see how each of the artists depicts Harvey Pekar, his family and his world.
*Paul Giamatti, as well as being a fine actor, is also the son of the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, who was the commissioner of baseball in 1989. Bart Giamatti was, arguably, the perfect man — a comparative literature professor who loved baseball.