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R.I.P., Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar at the Los Angeles Central Library, in 2006. artandstory/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption artandstory/Flickr

More sad news from Cuyahoga County: Harvey Pekar, best-known for the American Splendor series, died early this morning, at his home in Cleveland, Ohio.

He began American Splendor in 1976. On WHYY's Fresh Air, he talked about how he got started. He said he wanted to prove that comics "could do things."

"I wanted to expand them beyond superheroes and talking animals," he said. "I knew that was going to take a long time, but I just started, you know, writing autobiography and — about, you know, my quotidian life."

Pekar worked as a file clerk at a hospital in Cleveland. He collected jazz records. He got married. And he worried — about money, especially. In American Splendor, Pekar's chief concern was the everyday.

For years, he and his comic books — many of which were illustrated by R. Crumb — had a small, devoted following. That changed in 2003, when actor Paul Giamatti played him in a film version of American Splendor.

Pekar, who had been battling prostate cancer, was 70 years old.

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