I think comedian Patton Oswalt said it well on Twitter when he said that there’s “a little less splendor today,” with the news that comic writer Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame passed this morning.
Pekar was a real working class hero, making most of his living as a filing clerk while writing mostly autobiographically about his life, his struggle with various illnesses and more. In addition to this writing though, he also helped write two graphic novels chronicling the experiences of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Students for a Democratic Society (both co-authored with the educator Paul Bhule). In addition to these he also created a graphic adaptation of Studs Terkel’s classic Working.
His work as a comic book writer brought him to the national stage several times, most notably on Late Night With David Letterman. Here are two classic appearances where Harvey tries to protest General Electric (NBC’s owner):
And finally, who could forget this classic moment from the biopic American Splendor?
Of course Harvey points out to Toby later in the movie that those people in Nerds aren’t the same kinda nerd Toby is:
“It’s an entertaining flick and all, and I can see why you like it, Toby. But those people on the screen ain’t even supposed to be you. They’re college students … who live with their parents in big houses in the suburbs. They’re gonna get degrees, get good jobs, and they’re gonna stop being nerds! … The guys in that movie are not 28 year-old file clerks who live with their grandmothers in an ethnic ghetto … They didn’t get their computers like you did, by trading in a bunch of box tops and $49.50 at the supermarket … Sure, go to the movies and daydream, but Revenge of the Nerds ain’t reality. It’s just Hollywood bullshit.”
Well said, Harvey. Rest in Peace.