Harvey Pekar, author of the American Splendor comic series, died today at the age of 70. The cause of death is not yet known but Pekar suffered from cancer, which he and his wife wrote about in Our Cancer Year.
Harvey Lawrence Pekar was born October 8, 1939 and was best known for writing the American Splendor series, which chronicled Pekar's everyday life in Cleveland and was illustrated by a variety of artists including R. Crumb. Pekar was also a huge jazz fan and critic and authored a jazz opera called Leave Me Alone. He was well known for his hilarious and angry guest spots on the David Letterman show, and at one time was even banned as a guest.
A critically acclaimed film about Pekar, also titled American Splendor and starring Paul Giamatti, was released in 2003. In a statement about Pekar's death, 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."
Most recently, Pekar worked on the webcomic The Pekar Project featuring artists Tara Seibel, Joseph Remnant, Sean Pryor and Rick Parker.
His true genius was in his honesty, humor and total lack of pretentiousness. The comic world lost someone truly original today.