The creator of famed indie comic "American Splendor," Harvey Pekar, has passed away. "American Splendor" was part of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s and told stories from Pekar's life.
Legendary underground comic artist R. Crumb illustrated the series, looking at the cantankerous Pekar's Cleveland life. It dealt with topics like his love of records, the characters he met as a file clerk for a Veterans Administration hospital, dealing with cancer, and more.
Pekar became a cult pop culture phenom in the 1980s through a series of oddball appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman," and was ultimately banned from the show for several years. He was a bit like Larry David, but with harder edges.
Pekar had a moment in the spotlight in 2003 when Paul Giamatti starred in the film adaptation of "American Splendor." The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay - Adapted, and Giamatti received widespread praise for his performance.
I was first exposed to Pekar's work through the excellent 1988 documentary "Comic Book Confidential," and I had the opportunity to meet Pekar at the Bumbershoot music/arts festival in 2004. He had the same quirky energy in person, though he seemed at least slightly more mellow than the younger Pekar.
(Photo: Pekar friend Toby Radloff, Harvey Pekar (center) and his wife Joyce Brabner attend the 'American Splendor' film premiere at the Chelsea West Theater August 12, 2003 in New York City. Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.)