The Bricktosser

A place for me to rant, ramble and rave about all things comics related.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, February 02, 2006

League of Ordinary Gentlemen #2: Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar is so ordinary that he's unusual.

I mean, he's not really an ordinary guy. Most ordinary guys don't write comics about their life. They don't get famous for doing so. They don't go on David Letterman, antagonize the network's owners, and get kicked off. And they don't have movies made about all of this.

But somehow, despite all that, Pekar seems like an ordinary guy.

As far as I can tell, Pekar kicked off the "Ordinary Guy" genre of comics with American Splendor. There were autobiographical comics before his, but it wasn't until he started that we got comics that really focused on the ordinary. Pekar strips, especially the early ones, are quite zen at times. Little slices of dialogue from Pekar's workplace as a file clerk, observations about the little old Jewish ladies at the supermarket. Pekar revels in his ordinariness.
In one strip, he calls out Superman abandoning the ordinary guys, and turning his back on his Jewish heritage. This is why I think Ordinary Guy comics exist as a reaction to Superheroes. If Superheroes dominate, what room is there for the Ordinary Guy? Pekar makes the Ordinary Guy the hero, and scorns the fantasy.

Also, I think he's probably the first comics creator to depict his own masturbation. Not the last however-- he really started something with that one. Maybe there's a future series of posts there... but maybe not.

So here's to Harvey Pekar, who started something really big but still hung on hard to his working class roots. Check out his comics, or see the movie version of American Splendor to see a real one of a kind, despite all those that followed.

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