Published Jul 12, 2010Author, jazz critic and much-loved curmudgeon Harvey Pekar (best known as the writer and main character of the comic book series American Splendor) died today (July 12) in his home in Cleveland, OH. Although no official cause of death has been announced, Pekar had previously been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was 70.
A jazz enthusiast who worked as a music critic, Pekar rose to fame with his autobiographical comic series American Splendor, which he began writing in the mid-'70s. It earned him the American Book Award in 1987, and in 2003 was adapted into a Hollywood movie starring Paul Giamatti and Pekar. He published and distributed the majority of the comics himself, although the final instalments in the series came out via DC Comics.
In a 2001 interview with Exclaim!, Pekar said, "I conceived of American Splendor as a lifetime project." The last issue was released in 2008.
Pekar will also be remembered for his 1994 graphic novel Our Cancer Year, which was written with his wife Joyce Brabner. An autobiographical story about his struggle with lymphoma, it won the Harvey Award for Best Graphic Novel.
In 2009, Pekar penned the libretto for Leave Me Alone!, a jazz opera.
In a statement, Paul Giamatti said, "Harvey was one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I've ever met. He had a huge brain and an even bigger soul. And he was hilarious. He was a great artist, a true American poet, and there is no one to replace him."
Pekar is survived by wife Brabner and their adopted daughter, Danielle.