Celebrate the life of cartoonist Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar, who died earlier this month.
Photo: DavidKPhoto, via Wikimedia

Next month will see an event celebrating the life of American cartoonist Harvey Pekar, who died earlier on 12th July.

A joint Birkbeck Contemporary Fiction Seminar and International London Comics Grid Bootleg  event, it will feature a short discussion of Pekar’s life and work followed by a screening of the film American Splendor.

Comics writer and jazz fan Harvey Pekar first published his autobiographical comic American Splendor in 1976 in collaboration with Robert Crumb.  Subsequently working with a variety of artists, Pekar mined the drama and comedy of everyday life. His dedication to a poetics of commonplace realism was tempered with neurotic introspection, jazzy rhythms, and the immediacy of stand-up comedy.  (A good introduction, general overview, and prelude to the evening can be found at the online obituary by UCL’s Ernesto Priego, who will speak at the event).

Fans, artists/ and cholars will talk briefly about their favourite Pekar pages/moments/stories.  Joining Ernesto will be the artists and scholars Sarah Lightman and Sina Shamsavari.  Master of Ceremonies is Paul Gravett (journalist/broadcaster, curator of Comica at the ICA).

Following the screening attendees will reconvene for a celebratory wake at the Institute of Education bar.

• “Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff” – In celebration of Harvey Pekar (1939-2010)  at Birkbeck College on Malet Street, London in  Room 152, 1st floor main building, Torrington Square on Tuesday August 3rd 2010, 6-8.00 pm

• For more information contact Tony Venezia (a.veneziaATenglish.bbk.ac.uk) or Ernesto Priego (ernestopriegorATyahoo.com).   Or just turn up…

• For more on Harvey Pekar’s life, see these links to obituaries and remembrances, from Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times (with others here and here), New York Daily News, The Washington Post, The Washington Post’s comics blog, Mediaite, Comics Reporter, Comics Beat, The Comics Journal and The Guardian

The upbeat final days and busy future life of Harvey Pekar

An illustrated essay that Pekar and Cleveland cartoonist TaraSeibel wrote together and Seibel drew will appear in the catalogue for the exhibition “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women,” which opens 1st October at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. It may be the last comic that Pekar helped write before he died, but the New York Times reports it is just one of several works that will be released in the months to come.


The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

Categories: British Comics

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