Sunday, March 20, 2011
I watched the movie American Splendor Last night which is a fantastic indie flick telling the true life account of how an ordinary guy from Cleveland ended up writing his life into a comic series, was a regular guest on David Letterman, and really just wanted to come out kind of ahead in life, instead of just trudging through it. American Splendor first began as a comic series illustrated by the recognised illustrator Robert Crumb who was friends with Harvey Pekar. Harvey's whole philosophy behind the comics were to write about the mundane aspects of life, the everyday, lonliness, his relationship with his wife, and things that actually were a part of the everyday. The movie was based around the accounts of his life, how the comic books were formed, and how aspects of his life were shaped because of what he wrote.
An interesting aspect to this movie is that it includes voiceovers and interviews with the real Harvey Pekar. The portrayal of his life appears to be true to the comics in that it keeps him as a regular guy who really just cares about not being lonely, staying employed, and promoting what brings some satisfaction to his life-his autobiographical graphic novels. The movie won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and was the winner of the 2003 Cannes film festival international Critics award.
The first issue was published in 1976, and many issues followed almost yearly over the next 30 years. A variety of artists illustrated his stories, with the most noteworthy being Robert Crumb. Pekar's story was somewhat inspiring to me, as an illustrator and someone who loves memoirs in all forms. It is actually hard to interest me in a Graphic Novel that isn't based on someone's real life, or real-life facts, so when I find something that is really an illustrated embodiment of someone's life, it makes me kind of happy.
I ordered an anthology of the American Splendor books today, and I'm pretty stoked to read it.