Harvey Pekar changed the face of comics when his American Splendor series replaced traditional slam-bang superhero action with slice-of-life tales of his own very ordinary existence in Cleveland, Ohio, as a file clerk, jazz-record collector, and philosophical curmudgeon. Read more...
Harvey Pekar changed the face of comics when his American Splendor series replaced traditional slam-bang superhero action with slice-of-life tales of his own very ordinary existence in Cleveland, Ohio, as a file clerk, jazz-record collector, and philosophical curmudgeon. Much as Seinfeld famously transcended sitcom conventions by being "a show about nothing," Pekar's deadpan chronicles of regular life--peppered with wry and caustic reflections--have transformed comics from escapist fantasy into social commentary with voice balloons. Huntington, West Virginia "On the Fly" is prime Pekar, recounting the irascible everyman's on-the-road encounters with a cross section of characters--a career criminal turned limo-driving entrepreneur, a toy merchant obsessed with restoring a vintage diner, comic-book archivists, indie filmmakers, and children of the sixties--all of whom have stories to tell. By turns funny, poignant, and insightful, these portraits a la Pekar showcase a one-of-a-kind master at work, channeling the stuff of average life into genuine American art.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-04-25
- Reviewer: Staff
One of the final books written by the late Pekar, this volume collects five short pieces, mostly relating to a trip he made to West Virginia for a speaking engagement at a book festival: a series of anecdotes from an eccentric, dreadlocked limo driver; a tale about an unsuccessful attempt by one of Pekar's acquaintances to make a vintage diner successful in Cleveland; and so on. At his best, Pekar could find the stuff of engaging comics in the small routines and oddities of the everyday, and there's some potentially interesting oral history here—although not a lot of it cries out for visual interpretation, since most of these stories consist of expository dialogue that describes exactly what we see in McClinton's drawings. But the book falls flat when Pekar turns his focus away from his interviewees and onto himself, including endless, tedious, very familiar scenes in which he's talking on the phone, describing his career, and carping about money. This is far from Pekar's strongest work, and McClinton's artwork doesn't help much: her stylized textures and stripped-down renderings mesh uncomfortably with the photo-reference approach to drawing that often formed the basis of Pekar's comics. (Apr.)