A Conversation with Harvey Pekar
Writer: Pablo Guerra Artist: Camilo Sánchez Originally published in Larva Splendor, the Colombian Homage to Harvey Pekar.
El Globoscopio presents: A Conversation with Harvey Pekar In 2007, Mario and I went to Providence to see Harvey Pekar. He was lecturing at Brown University and since Worcester is only 40 minutes away, we just couldn’t miss it. What can I talk about? I can tell you about my life... although if you are here it means you’ve read some of my comics or seen the movie, so you already know what I’m going to say. Writer: Pablo Guerra Artist: Camilo Sánchez Mario was curious to hear a legendary alternative comics writer speak about his creative process in “American Splendor”. I was about to meet my biggest influence. It’s a simple story: I’ve lived in Cleveland all my life y I’ve selfpublished a ton of autobiographical comics. I’ve worked with the great Robert Crumb, Spain Rodríguez, Gary Dumm, Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld, Joe Sacco, Greg Budget... ... and I can’t forget Frank Stack. Joyce and I did “Our Cancer Year” with him. I‘m here because I worked in putting together a Graphic History of SDS in the sixties. It’s a new way of using comics to retell the past. He’s exactly what you’d expect: a shy, ansious and brilliant guy. He looks like all his portraits at the same time. Spooky. Text in italics origanally in Spanish. Please join us in the SDS Graphic History Show opening today. Is this the right time to approach Harvey? Very few latinos as usual. I never felt like an outsider reading American comics but we clearly don’t belong here. Is it an open event? Stop talking already. The spontaneous run-in idea isn’t working. Finally! Where’s Harvey? Hello, Harvey. Hey. What’s SDS? I hate acronyms. I miss what they mean. Can you sign my comic? My favorite issues of American Splendor are in BogotĂĄ. In Colombia. It was really surprising for me to discover that Student Movements in the US were also openly leftist. Outside of the US, I got a less politized version of North American activistism. It looks like I signed it. All comic writers should have some kind of stamp for conventions and stuff. Itâ€™s true. Something strange happended with Student Movements, like SDS. There were feminists, pacifists, Maoists, moderates, liberals, radicals, etc. But all the effort went into opposing the war. It was a popular cause because everyone was affraid of the draft, especially middle-class college students. Once the war was over, the movements felt apart. At the end, there was not a strong bond to hold everything. People cared about their own safety and the real issues like freedom and equality were not as central. It becomes a fragmented memory. Things that happend in the sixties seem to be separate from the stuff you describe happening in Cleveland in the seventies. And the same happens with Reagan and so on. Now people think about the sixties as drugs and free love but you have to be aware of how it felt to be there, what was actually going on. And then, doing the same thing with the seventies industrial crisis... Meaning, read American Splendor. Thatâ€™s what I want to do with my comics. Especially in the case of Colombia where memory is always at stake. There are so many stories media simply ignores. Comics are cheap and you donâ€™t depend on middlemen. But is hard to find paying gigs and when you do stuff for free nothing really works as it should. I have even tried drawing comics myself but my doodles never express what I want to say. Getting an idea to work on paper is though. I just interrupted Harvey Pekar. Don't be so hard on yourself. Comics are comics. Did you have a good conversation with harvey? It was perfect. Harvey Pekar (1939 - 2010).