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2008.06.09

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The original series of American Splendor, in the 70s and 80s, was great, innovative work, but it's true to say that a lot more people have done autobiographical comics since, and some of them have done it better.

I read Pekar's Our Movie Year collection recently and found it very disappointing in comparison with his earlier work, partly because he's now writing as a minor celebrity rather than a file clerk.

I also found the movie a mish-mash of styles that didn't work well together. I really wanted to like it, and I'm glad it was a success, because Pekar deserves it for what he's done for comics.

So, Nina, I'm agreeing with you, but I still recommend you find a good American Splendor anthology because you are missing out on some fantastic stuff there.

The original series of American Splendor, in the 70s and 80s, was great, innovative work, but it's true to say that a lot more people have done autobiographical comics since, and some of them have done it better.

I read Pekar's Our Movie Year collection recently and found it very disappointing in comparison with his earlier work, partly because he's now writing as a minor celebrity rather than a file clerk.

I also found the movie a mish-mash of styles that didn't work well together. I really wanted to like it, and I'm glad it was a success, because Pekar deserves it for what he's done for comics.

So, Nina, I'm agreeing with you, but I still recommend you find a good American Splendor anthology because you are missing out on some fantastic stuff there.

Thanks, John. I'll definitely take that recommendation. I'm sure American Splendor didn't earn its legendary reputation by mistake, and I'd be happy to read the issues from the era when it garnered its status. Thanks for reading and commenting! N

I would recommend the movie as well, since that was kind of my introduction to Harvey Pekar, and it really shows what he was doing and what kind of person he is. I haven't read a lot of the older American Splendor comics, but from what I understand, he has kind of softened in his old age, becoming less irascible and argumentative, which were things that made his stuff pretty entertaining. Also, he's retired now, and he's kind of a minor celebrity, so he doesn't have the pressures of working a regular job as a file clerk to propel him forward. I still enjoy reading his stuff; it's like hearing stories told by an old uncle or something. But I should also try to read some of the collections, since that's probably the good stuff.

Oh, and I would recommend the movie for Paul Giamatti's performance, if nothing else. He's really good. And there's some cool interlaying of reality and adaptation; Pekar narrates, and there are occasional breaks from the "story" to see him sit around the movie set and chat with the director. I really dug it.

"Okay, so I still suck at haikus. And that's what American Splendor reminded me of: bad haikus."

You are brilliant. Your reviews never fail to entertain, and the way you snap that amazingly digressive anecdote into this hard slap ... lovely.

I wouldn't mind an off-topic post on your Buffy marathon, come to think of it. My girlfriend and I are briefly stalled, by life, in Season 4 -- a season mostly to be waded through to get to more interesting stuff ahead.

Anyway -- thanks for completely defining how I'll think of American Splendor from now on. As sucky haiku.

As a longtime Harvey Pekar fan, I wouldn't recommend "Our Movie Year" to newcomers because it's not, as might be expected, Harvey writing about the making of the film, but an unannotated collection of promotional comic strips that ran in various publications across the country. Some are interesting, but a lot of it is repetitive.

As for the review itself, while you have your right to your opinion and if you don't like the book I'm certainly not going to try to convince you otherwise, I didn't like your review because you spent an awful lot of time setting it up before you got to your actual comments.

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