Harvey Award winning underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar passed away today at the age of 70. Pekar was best known for his autobiographical American Splendor series, which in 2003, inspired a critically acclaimed film adaptation of the same name starring Paul Giamatti. Pekar was also a highly regarded music and literary critic.
His "American Splendor" series had its roots in Pekar's friendship with Robert Crumb, the seminal underground comic-book artist. The two first met in 1962 when Crumb was working for American Greetings in Cleveland. At the time, Crumb was just beginning to explore the possibilities of comics, which would later lead to such groundbreaking work as his "Mr. Natural" and "Fritz the Cat."
When Pekar, inspired by Crumb's work, began writing his own nascent strip in 1972, Crumb illustrated it and also contributed to Pekar's first full-fledged books, which Pekar started publishing annually in 1976.
He appeared in a string of amusing and controversial episodes of David Letterman's late night talk show during the late 1980's, riling parent company GE when Pekar was vocally critical of the company.
I was fortunate enough to meet Harvey Pekar once during the mid-1990's in Atlanta, GA. The Catacombs expresses its deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans.