One can (and ought to) safely assume that the brilliant-yet-curmudgeonly mind behind American Splendor had lived a long, interesting, unique and ultimately fulfilling life (particularly as an early septuagenarian). Despite that consolation, though, it still bums me the fuck out.
Although the cause of Pekar’s death is not yet known, Cleveland Heights Police Capt. Michael Cannon said the writer had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression.
As we’ve seen in Sheri Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s film adaptation of Pekar’s Our Cancer Year, the cult writer beat cancer once before. At the end of the film, however, the Real Pekar wisely notes that, in the end, life is less about triumphing over the “war,” and more about winning a few skirmishes along the way.
I remember meeting Harvey at a book signing in Barnes & Noble in Bethesda, Md., closely after the film adaptation of American Splendor was made. When my turn in line came to humbly request that Harvey sign my copy of a volumed paperback edition of selected works from his American Splendor series, I shyly asked him (not verbatim):
“How do you feel about the film now that it’s released and how well it’s been received by critics?”
His response (not verbatim) was: “I dunno man, I guess it made me quite a chunk of change.”
Pekar in a nutshell, folks.
And as far as his notorious guest spot appearances on Late Night with David Letterman in the late ’80s, fuck General Electric.