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Harvey and Me
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I was sorry to read this morning that comic book writer Harvey Pekar has died. I wrote a bit about him some time ago and I suppose I dare rerun that blog today.

When I was briefly into comics back in the eighties one of my favorite writers was Harvey Pekar. Each issue of his American Splendor was essentially a collection of personal essays in comic book form. Harvey wrote the scripts and the drawings were provided by comics luminaries like R. Crumb. It was remarkable to see how artists who normally illustrated wild and fantastic tales depicted the boredom of a file clerk's job and the woes of old cars parked along the streets of Cleveland in the winter.

Harvey became something of a cult figure. His fame probably peaked when he got into an argument with David Letterman. It really couldn't have been any other way because Harvey was a celebrity for being everything that celebrities aren't. Today you can buy Harvey Pekar's work in graphic-novel form. There was even a movie made about him.

I never met Harvey, but a friend of mine brought a man who knew him over to my house for dinner. This was when I was drawing mini-comics and, being an admirer of American Splendor, I had produced a sort of parody/homage version featuring myself as a stick figure.

That isn't quite as bad as it sounds. Small press folks maintained a punkish, do-it-yourself outlook on art. Their attitude was that anyone could make comics. And ought to. If you couldn't draw it was no excuse. Just use stick figures. Such comics constituted a whole mini-minimalist art movement.

My stick version of Harvey Pekar's comic was called, naturally, American Splinter. I gave a copy to Harvey's friend, who passed it on to Harvey, who, much to my surprise, sent me a complimentary postcard.

Needless to say, this amazing event necessitated a second issue of American Splinter all about my getting a postcard from Harvey Pekar. And there the story ended.

Or so I thought, until I happened across an eBay page and unexpectedly found myself staring at my all but forgotten stick me. What was really startling, though, was the story behind the item up for bids:


Not exactly a parody, not exactly a tribute but definitely inspired by Harvey Pekar's American Splendor, this is Eric Mayer's autobiographical mini-comic "from off the streets of Rochester". Other comics by Mayer include King Cotton, Stick Dick and Bad Cat.

This issue deals with a visit from a friend of Harvey Pekar's and includes a repro of a postcard from Pekar. Because this sort of thing amuses me I asked Pekar to sign this copy at a comic convention in Dallas, Texas sometime in the late '80s.

- 4¼ × 5½"
- 8 pages
- signed by Harvey Pekar
- slight bend at upper right corner, condition otherwise very good, complete and intact, no tears or markings
- published by Eric Mayer / Groggy Comics, 1987

Imagine that. Harvey Pekar signed my mini-comic about getting a postcard from Harvey Pekar in response to my previous mini-comic parody of Harvey Pekar's own comic. I can hardly keep it all straight myself. But now I've blogged about it.

Oh, yeah. The winning bid was $9.17. Heck, if it were my autograph I'd be insulted!

The eBay page expired but naturally I saved the cover: American Splinter #2 autographed copy.

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