1) The movie American Splendor follows, loosely, the life and times of Harvey Pekar, whom is famous for writing the realist comic series “American Splendor”.  The film seeks to spotlight Pekar’s life, as well as contain within it the same themes Pekar found so important: the struggle of the day to day living in cleveland, and the story that hides behind the apparent dullness of everyday life. Honest almost to a fault, the movie adresses Pekar’s life the same way Pekar wrote about it. The narrative isn’t a quest, nor is it full of dangerous car chases; rather, it strives to maintain Pekar’s unfiltered stream of conscious and does so through filming techniques such as shooting cleveland through a camera with a tabaco filter on the lens, or having the actual Pekar narrate his own life.

 

2) The American Splendor comic series was created because of Pekar’s dismissal of the escapism that dominated comics at the time. Pekar saw comics as an art form, and not as a simple way to make a buck off of children and nerds. Thus Pekar decided to write a comic grounded in realism, and reflecting on the positives and negatives of life as a working stiff. Although famous for his complaining and pessimism, the comic series also contains a profounding humanism in its message, much like Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. If this man’s mundane, unhappy life can be celebrated by art, so can anyones.

 

3)

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1871821_1871830_1871843,00.html

– American Splendor is rated no. 8 out of the top 10 Sundance Film Festival hits in a recent compilation by Time magazine, although the brief description of the movie is a little simple.

 

http://obits.cleveland.com/obituaries/cleveland/obituary.aspx?n=harvey-pekar&pid=144056612

– A link to Harvey Pekar’s obituary in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, his hometown newspaper.

 

http://crackepidemic.bandcamp.com/album/american-splendor-lp

– This is a link to the band The Crack Epidemic’s new LP, the name of which is “American Splendor”. A caption written by the artist’s about the LP reads as such: “American Splendor explores the frustrations of modern American life and takes you on a journey of unexpected turns and curveballs that ultimately bring us to a better place.” The group is an underground rap duo, showing the mainstream appeal of Harvey Pekar’s comics. The band gives a nod to the creator of the comic book whose name they borrowed, titling an instrumental sections “Harvey”.

 

4) Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter are all about ordinariness: we use them to record the mundane events of our lives. How would an American Splendor blog (or Facebook page, or Twitter feed) look like? How would it be different than his comic book?

– With the increasing availability and use of the internet, there has been an undeniable “rise of the individual”. Youtube web  stars are being featured on news programs; the show Tosh.0 deals solely with everyday people who have put up something ridiculous or funny on the popular video sharing site. Twitter and facebook allow individuals to narrate their own lives, broadcasting them to the whole world. While this increased visibility of the average persons day-to-day seems to be in the spirit of American Splendor, there is definitely something lost between the two. Pekar took time to craft his story, and he knew his words would be aided by a comic artist’s interpretation. A twitter or facebook version of American Splendor seems like Pekar’s life would be reduced to a bunch of one-liners held together only by their succession, not by the feeling of a complete story. A  Splendor blog would suffer less from this, but it would sound more like rants, such as Maddox’s BestPageInTheUniverse.com. The dual-medium of a comic allows their to be a full story that leaves room for individual imagination between the panels.

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