Pekar tributes

July 12th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Jeff Newelt at Smithmag made this nice post about Harvey Pekar today, on the anniversary of his death. There’s a very nicely done video of a live reading Jeff did of a Pekar strip, illustrated by Sean Pryor.

Here’s a tiny Harvey sketch from a piece I illustrated for him 22 years ago. No one ever drew such expressive stick figures.

Harvey's original4

68 Responses to “Pekar tributes”

  1. Jahfurry says:

    Thanks Alison! and thanks for your Harvey Head addition to our gallery

    best to ya

    [Freed from spam-limbo. –Mentor]

  2. Acilius says:

    Thanks for the link. Hard to believe it’s been a year.

    “No one ever drew such expressive stick figures.” If he were starting out nowadays, I wonder if it would have occurred to him to recruit artists to collaborate with him as he did. Evidently there’s a great demand for stick figures in comics.

  3. Joe Code says:

    I would love to see the work that you did with him. Do you have a link or info? Thanks.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    The way they’re part human, part chair made me smile.

  5. Diana says:

    Here’s a YouTube I made of an American Splendor story that was not reprinted in any of the collections.
    In retrospect, the timing is a bit fast on a couple frames.

  6. Renee S. says:

    Hi Ginjoint
    I didn’t notice they looked like chairs until you pointed it out. πŸ™‚

  7. hairball_of_hope says:

    Hey AB!

    I’m trying to figure out what the pentimento ghost script reads in the background of Harvey’s sketch. Is that his handwriting or yours, and what does it say? Was it a bleedthrough from another page, or an erasure?

    The sketch reminds me very much of XKCD’s stick figures (

    (… goes back to schvitzing on a muggy summer night …)

  8. Renee S, me neither. Sheesh.

  9. Kate L says:

    Renee S., Maggie… Nor did I notice! What does this say about our subconscious?

  10. That we are Chairlons who have not yet been switched on by a staticky Bob Dylan song?

  11. Kate L says:

    Yes! Yes! I admit it! We are Chairlons! Long live Chairlon! πŸ™‚

    Btw, it’s not often that I can just about predict young Dr. Rachel Maddow’s Moment of Geek section on the television machine, but for tonight I’m pretty sure that I can! NASA’s solar-powered Dawn space probe has been spiralling outward from Earth for the past four years, propelled by a new type of low-thrust engine that spews out ionized xenon gas. Tonight, at 8 pm High Plains Time (1 am Greater Croydon Time), Dawn will approach the giant asteroid Vesta at a leisurely relative speed to the asteroid of 60 miles per hour. Instead of slowing down in a several-minute blast of traditional rocket exhaust, Dawn will actually allow itself to be captured by the gravity of Vesta. It will spend a year in orbit around Vesta before starting up its ion engines again, and travelling to the even-larger asteroid Ceres. It will then spend a year in orbit there. Vesta is 300 miles across, Ceres (the largest asteroid) is 600 miles across. I like to tell my geology students that asteroids are a step up from the planestesimals (kilometer-wide globs of silicate and iron dust) that the formed the planets. Vesta and Ceres were probably small accumulations of planetesimals that grew large enough to separate into an iron-rich core and rocky, silicate mantle.
    Here is NASA’s infographic on the Dawn mission.

  12. NLC says:

    And for the hyper-astronomy-geeks among us:

    Speaking of Vesta:
    The asteroid Vesta will actually be visible to naked eye for a few days around Aug 5 of this year.

    In other words, it will reach an apparent brightness/magnitude of +5.6 on that date (+6.0 is a good rule of thumb for the cut-off for); meaning you will need 1] a very dark sky, 2] a good pair of eyes, and 3] some patience.

    (Here in southern Vermont we definitely have #1; I used to have #2; #3 remains to be seen.)

    (If you’ve read this far, and you’re still interested, Here’s More.

  13. Renee S. says:

    I think it means we want someone to sit on us…

  14. Kate L says:

    It turns out that Helen Lafave, Michelle Bachman’s lesbian half-sister, attended Barak Obama’s 2009 inauguration. She and her friend were actually interviewed about how enthusiastic they were about the first african-american president being sworn in, and they hoped other barriers would come down, too, don’t you know.

  15. Kate L says:

    The Deep Space Tracking Network confirms, Dawn is in orbit around Vesta*! CLICK HERE for a narrative of the Dawn mission to the Main Asteroid Belt.

    (* – My favorite science fiction short story title from the 60’s was, Marooned Off Vesta. My second-favorite science fiction short story title from the 60’s was I’m In MarsPort Without Hilda.

  16. Kate L says:

    “Is anybody out there? Anybody at all?” *

    Gee, where is everybody? I feel like I’m in Marsport without the DTWOF gang! πŸ™‚

    * – A bonus point for whoever can tell us what early 80’s TV miniseres set in Lawrence, Kansas, this line came from!

  17. NLC says:

    (Should we tell her?)

  18. Vicious says:

    Maybe we should start up a conversation……. anyone seen the latest Harry Potter movie?

  19. Kate L says:

    We need our leader! Why, right this moment poor A.B. is probably slaving away at her manuscript! I sure hope that she has that delicious Mellon she won all sliced up and in a bowl for her to piece on as she works! πŸ™‚

  20. shadocat says:

    Kate L.—That wouldn’t be “The Day After” ,would it? (A friend of mine was an extra in that movie)…

  21. Vicious says:

    Maybe AB’s taking the summer to relax thus abandoning the blog momentarily.

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. –Mentor]

  22. Vicious says:

    Maybe AB is relaxing over the summer thus abandoning the blog.

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. –Mentor]

  23. Kate L says:

    shadocat (#21) Yes! YES! YES! πŸ™‚ (All: It was filmed at the University of Kansas campus).

  24. Straight Ally says:

    I’ll have what Kate L is having in #24.

    (Hello, folks.)

  25. Kate L says:

    Oh, baby! OH, BABY! πŸ™‚

  26. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I came over here on Sunday to see if anybody blogjacked momentarily about same sex marriage becoming legal in New York, but unless that’s what Kate L is waxing rhapsodic about, no takers.

  27. Kate L says:

    Oh, Therry and St. Jerome (#27) (Kate L hastily makes herself presentable). While lesbians and gays in New York State may now walk onto the sunlight uplands of marriage equality, it is still High Midnight in other parts of the U. S. of A. Case in point… Jennifer Tipton and her partner, Olivier Odom, visited the Dollywood theme park in Tennessee on July 9th, where Olivier was asked to turn her “Marriage is So Gay” t-shirt inside out because Dollywood is a “family park”(!)

  28. Kate L says:

    …Irony Alert: Tipton and Odom were at Dollywood with their kids.

    Tomorrow, we have the first meeeting of our local human rights group following the repeal of LGBT-as-a-protected-class by the Smallville city council. It will also be the first meeting of the newly-elected Board of the group. I’m now the longest-serving member of the Board, and I am also the only one who was here to take part in the 2005 campaign against adding a gay marriage ban to the state constitution (the ban won statewide, but was nearly defeated here in Smallville(!)). Does the DTWOF Blog group have any suggestions for those of us in the Belly of the Beast at High Midnight?

  29. Ready2Agitate says:

    Hey y’all – I’m officially on leave… maternity leave, that is. We adopted a baby boy* this summer. So in order to conserve our old-person-parenting energy, I’ve had to cut way back on online time. Seems others may be on vacation from the blog too. I look fw to being able to read books again one day… maybe AB’s new book will be out by then! (smile) Meantime, I’ll be busy raising another agitator. Cheers! R2A

    *I like to say, “He has a penis – what his gender is, however, remains undefined.” πŸ™‚

  30. Khatgrrl says:

    Congrats, R2A!

  31. Kate L says:

    Way to go, R2A! πŸ™‚

  32. NLC says:


    1] Congratulations, indeed!

    2] With regard to reading:
    If your experience will be anything like mine, you’ll get lots of opportunity to read; just be sure to have Good Night, Moon, The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, and …but not the Hippopotamus close at hand at all times.

    As far as books aimed at, shall we say, an older audience…

    A good trick I found was just to read out-loud to the kid no matter what you’re reading. This is particular true with younger children, as they seem primarily interested in the soothing sound of your voice, especially at sleep-time. It doesn’t seem to matter what the book is.

    (When my older daughter was born I was lucky enough to be able to switch to nights at work, so I could be home with my daughter during the day, when my wife worked, and vice-versa. So basically during the week we just sort of passed at the door and handed off my daughter.

    One result was that daily naps became almost as important to me as they were to my daughter. So it was important that she went to sleep quickly and reliably.

    At the time I happened to be reading Richard Ellman’s biography of Oscar Wilde. I found that this was a great book to use while putting her down for afternoon naps. She drifted right off –and I got to read a book that I actually wanted to read.

    Also, it was a real pleasure each afternoon to hear an 18-month-old asking for “Oscar!”…)

  33. Feminista says:

    @R2A: Yay! All the waiting time paid off. Hope both of you enjoy parenthood.

  34. Feminista says:

    P.S.Fourteen years ago this month my daughter,then 8 1/2,joined our family in a foster care-to-adopt arrangement. Now I’m an abuela (grandma)of Joaquin and Giselle. Joaquin will turn 4 on August 3,and Giselle turned 2 in April. How time flies!

  35. freyakat says:

    Hi R2A,

    I’ll put a plug in for “Make Way For Ducklings”!


  36. j.b.t. says:

    Congrats R2A!

    The best words of wisdom I heard in the early parenting years were from my friend Martha, who told me: “They say the years go by in the blink of an eye, and that’s true – but the afternoons last eternity.”

    My baby just turned 7 and it’s too true.


  37. hairball_of_hope says:

    Mazel Tov, R2A! May you shep naches from the little agitator.

    N.B. Shep naches is a Yiddish phrase which means to derive joy/pleasure from the accomplishments of another, usually one’s offspring. Naches is pronounced with the guttural Germanic “ch,” as if clearing one’s throat of phlegm, not with the hard Spanish “ch” sound as in nachos.

  38. Dr. Empirical says:

    It was interesting seeing the way Harvey drew in the movie. He held the pencil with both hands and pushed it from his shoulders. How was he able to write if he had so little motor control when he drew? The Human brain is a fascinating thing.

  39. Alex K says:

    So the debt limit is to be lifted. We have a deal. Oh, for Heaven’s sake.

    What did we elect two years ago? “As long as I get re-elected, I’ll sell ANYTHING out.” Bill Clinton dipped in cocoa.

    Lois, I’m sorry for those uncharitable thoughts a few campaigns ago. You were right. The next Ralph Nader who stands for the Presidency, I’m voting for her.

    And I hope that the Tea Party shoot this down, down, down.

  40. Andrew B says:

    R2A, congratulations. I want to second Freyakat’s recommendation, particularly since you live in the Boston area. Also Katy and the Big Snow, and really anything by Virginia Lee Burton.

    Alex K, I hope you’ll reconsider “dipped in cocoa”. Obama’s miserable performance has nothing to do with his color. His performance is infuriating, no doubt about that.

  41. Alex K says:

    @Andrew B — agreed. Give BHO a scrub, rinse the cocoa away, and he’s as now-I’m-safe-up-the-ladder-I’ll-kick-it-away-with-the-rest-of-you-on-it as any Goldman Sachs intern hoping to make enough money to ensure that her / his great-grandchildren will play lacrosse at Choate.

    Sad that Obama’s colour has NOT influenced his performance. A bit of racially based solidarity with the underclass (hello! Ex-community organiser! Yoo-hoo!) wouldn’t hurt.

  42. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hey R2A — just checked in after a week or so and learned you are a MOM! Three cheers, and don’t let the little rug rat keep you out of here on a regular basis! MWAH!

  43. Kate L says:

    It has seemed to me that President Obama has acted like he wants to be part of the WASP power elite. If so, that’s sad, because it would mean that he wants to be friends with the men who want to destroy him. The story on the news wires is that Obama did not push the clearly-stated part of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says “the debt of the United States shall not be questioned” (i.e., the U.S. is good for what it has borrowed) because he was afraid of impeachment. Jeez! If that’s true, Obama was afraid of being impeached for doing his job… impeached by a bunch of yahoos who are not doing their job of paying the bill for expenses they’ve already appropriated! Interesting that House Minority Leader Pelosi is making tonight’s vote in the House of Representative’s a “free vote”, meaning that Democrats in Congress are free to vote their conscience on the matter…

  44. Kate L says:

    Laura Conaway, a staffer with MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, has just posted this story of true heroism during the recent tragic shootings in Norway…

  45. Anonymous says:

    Wow–got to love the rhetoric on the blog today. I thought I had wandered onto the Rush Limbaugh website: “dipped in cocoa.”

    You know–people accuse the left wing of being absolutist and intolerant. Thanks for proving them right.

    Obama is more influenced by his experiences in Asia than people want to admit. Asian people tend to be quite conservative socially, they often like to reach a consensus with those they work with, and they don’t tend to care much what people on the radical left think.

    Next time you are in a humanities department–especially an English department(anywhere other than California, where the Asian population is dense enough that Asians can get ahead)–look around. How many people of Asian extraction do you see? Well, other than Indian, which is a subcontinent–actual Asian people from China or Indonesia or someplace like that?

    Better still, go check the actual statistics for racial groups. I think you will find that it hasn’t varied much from the last time I checked–Asians are about 4% of the population, but only about .6% of humanities departments. That doesn’t happen by accident.

    You might want to check your own ethnocentrism and lock-step ideologism in the mirror–you know?

    Just in passing–have you ever wondered why it is that English majors can find racism and gender discrimination and classism and heterosexism in every single little thing including grocery lists except for their own discipline–which, of course, only has “best practices.”

    Not everyone of a given race has to act the same or believe the same thing–if you think that they should, again, you might want to look long and hard in that mirror . . . with a little more honesty than you are using now.

  46. Alex K says:

    Hey, Anonymous. Rush Limbaugh fanclub member Number One here. Let me clarify: When writing “Bill Clinton dipped in cocoa” I wasn’t deprecating BHO down for being cocoa-coloured. I was deprecating him for being Bill Clinton redivivus. Got it?

    Now, in your consensus-building criticisms and apercus, you may be right. But let’s kick it up a notch.

    “Asians are about 4% of the population, but only about .6% of humanities departments. That doesn’t happen by accident.”

    Nope. Agreed. But why?

    You’ve dispelled the idea that Asians are bad at working and playing with others, who just can’t fit in anywhere. Instead, you’ve suggested active discrimination, shutting Asians out. Are there further possibilities? Can we put forward explanations other than racist conspiracy against Asian tenure-seeking academic humanists?

    Hypothesis 1, children of recent immigrants, which includes many Asians, are incompletely acculturated. If all the cards in the Authors deck have names and titles on them that no one in your extended kindred has ever heard of, rate your chances of high-level achievement in lit-crit. I say: Not going to happen; people who want to spend their lives dissecting contributions to the philosophy of Margaret Fuller are hooked on that stuff very, very young. Smaller Asian talent pool, less proportional representation.

    Hypothesis 2, Asians are steered in large numbers by family / cultural pressures toward making money. This again may be a first-generation immigrant thing — Our lives are miserable and we are poor. You get rich. (It was true for the immigrants two and three generations back in my family, not an Asian among ’em.) Further exhibits: My sister-in-law, my ex, Wendy Murdoch… hey, even June in DTWOF, for cripes sake. “Why would you want to starve writing about books when you can get an MBA and mint money?” Smaller talent pool…

    Your hypothesis calls for proportional equality among those who enter the humanities, with Asians actively selected against. The two alternatives proposed suggest instead that proportionally fewer Asians enter the humanities. (All three hypotheses may be true, mind you — fewer Asians going in, fewer Asians selected for preferment.) Can you give us a numbers check to see if humanities PhD-programme entry data on ethnic origins support your theory?

  47. Anonymous says:

    WOW that was really off topic

  48. Dr. Empirical says:

    According to my research, Alison drew two single-page stories written by Harvey. Both appeared in American Splendor #14, published in 1989.

    One of those pages was reprinted in The New American Splendor Anthology, published in 1991.

    I don’t own either of these, but keep an eye out for them when I’m at Baltimore Con later this month.

  49. NLC says:

    BTW, both of the AB+HP strips are also re-printed in “The Indelible Alison Bechdel”

  50. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Another blogjack! Today is Maggie Jochild’s birthday, and here’s wishing her a terrific AB-filled day, attended by friends and filled with delicious things to eat and lots of productive hours at the laptop!

    Yay, Maggie!

  51. Oh, thank you, Therry! It has been exactly that. Chocolate cake, a kitteh high on nip, and the promise of a long skype with Marj in London for a sizzlin’ Friday night date that runs well into Saturday. Love is not all, but it damn near is.

  52. Ginjoint says:

    Hey, R2A, congratulations!! My book suggestion is, of course, Go The Fuck To Sleep. What, you expected anything different? And don’t worry, it’s short, so it won’t take up too much baby-time.

    Many happy returns, Maggie!!

    I’ve been reading, you know, books lately instead of being online quite so much. I realized how much I’ve come to rely on the web for reading material, and I wanted to kick it back, old-school, for a bit. Plus, the July we had was un-freakin’-believable, what with the violent storms and the HEAT. Even with air conditioning, it’s just stupefying. It finally cooled off a bit, and now it’s raining again. Rather peaceful Sunday evening…

  53. Kate L says:

    Belated happy birthday, Maggie! πŸ™‚

    Ginjoint… with the new a/c that the city’s low income home rehab allowed me to obtain, my electricity usage is way down, although I’ve been more comfortable this horrible summer than last. I guess that shows how inefficient an air conditioner installed the month before the first Moon landing was. The grant also allowed me to replace my 40% efficient furnace installed when the house was built in 1959 with an 80% + efficient new furnace.

  54. Kate L says:

    Here’s hoping that those of you in London are safe during the ongoing turmoil.

  55. Diamond says:

    Thankyou Kate, and not just London now. Shops are currently burning in the centre of my city, Manchester, and several others. 8.45 pm our time.

  56. Alex K says:

    @Kate L — Thanks. OK here in Sarf Lunnon. If your flat isn’t over a sporting-goods or consumer-electronics shop, or worse over an off-licence, you’re likely at no risk. The torches and pitchforks haven’t yet left the high street, their bearers heading into the leafy culs-de-sac to ransack the three-bedrooms (one-ensuite), two-reception-rooms, attractively-presented semi-detached chateaux… probably because this revolution HAS been televised. Boarded-up shopfronts today, shops closed at 1400 on police advice, transport links purposely interrupted to make swift movement of groups of people from venue to venue impracticable. Boris Johnson being a prat, chuntering about spouting tosh (no change there, then). A great deal of tongue-clucking and “It’s time to crack down” at tea break today, but Keep Calm and Carry On continues the national motto!

  57. Mentor says:

    [Just wondering: Has anyone seen Aunt Soozie? (It’s been a while) –Mentor]

  58. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m Facebook friends with Aunt Soozie, Mentor, and can confirm that she’s happy and well.

    Her daughter is deeply involved in amateur theatrics, and Auntie has been spending a lot of time on costumes and such, with impressive results.

  59. Marj says:

    UK Update: No riots last night. It was raining.

  60. Dr. Empirical says:

    Apparently there’s an artificial controversy over Ernie and Bert and gay marriage. Looks like it’s not just conservatives who invent things to get outraged over. I think Mark Evanier expressed my feelings on the matter better than I’d be able, so here he is:

    “There are a couple of online petitions circulating to urge the folks over at Sesame Street to have Bert and Ernie marry. This is a very silly idea. As readers of this site know, I believe it is barbaric and bigoted to stop two consenting adults of any persuasion to wed…and really none of the state’s business to decree that they can’t. I also think it is not only inevitable that gay marriage will become legal everywhere but that eventually, those who opposed will be like those who once fought against racially-mixed marriages in this country: Ashamed to the point of, in most cases, denying they ever did that.

    But Bert and Ernie? Come on. They’re Muppets. They have no genitalia and no sexuality…and you know, a character is really only what its creators decide it is. The writer part of me is offended at the whole notion of outside forces with a political agenda β€” even a political agenda I might share β€” coming in and pressuring for creative changes. If Jim Henson and Frank Oz had decided Bert and Ernie were gay…okay, that would be the decision of folks with a moral right to make it.

    Obviously, they did not. We’ve had more than 40 years of Bert and Ernie adventures without a trace of homosexual (or for that matter, heterosexual) subtext. It’s not that anything sexual is right or wrong here…it’s just not a part of this world. Sesame Street doesn’t have to teach kids about everything. And I really don’t think its target audience β€” kids β€” needs to be taught that two men can love each other. I think kids need not to be taught otherwise. For those of you who are unafraid to admit an appreciation of show tunes, there’s a song in South Pacific about this. It’s narrow-minded adults who need the lesson here.

    One could also argue, as I would if I could stand to devote five more minutes to this whole ridiculous matter, that there’s a nice lesson in Bert and Ernie not being retrofitted as gay lovers. It is possible for two men or two women to be close friends and live together and sleep in adjoining beds without their sexuality being an issue or someone saying, “They must be gay!” I don’t think same-sex wedlock threatens so-called “traditional” marriages in any way. I don’t think the idea that two males might just be really close friends (and nothing more) threatens gay marriages.

    And what I really, really long for is the day when no one cares about or pays any attention to the straightness or gayness of other human beings. Or puppets.”

  61. Mentor says:

    [“Are You My Mother?”

    Amazon seems to know something we don’t: [Click Here] –Mentor]

  62. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    AB must be hard at work. Good. No posts for a month.

  63. Andrew B says:

    Mentor, 63, there’s also something here.

  64. Mentor says:

    [My favorite feature on the Amazon page is that, together with the normal buttons along the right-hand side for
    “Pre-order: Add to Cart”
    “Add to Wish List”
    there is also a button for
    “Add to Baby Registry”.

    (I assume that this is an auto-generated feature that cues on something in the book-description –perhaps the word “Mother” in the title.) –Mentor]

  65. Pam I says:

    I live in Tottenham, which now once again is a byword for crisis.
    I watched the riot at the police station and then the looting in the local retail centre.
    Two things need to be said many times – most of the looting was done by adults. And arson is despicable and has absolutely no excuse, nor explanation, nor reason. Most of the commentary except from diehard politicos from right or left, acknowledges that there are no simple answers and we need to regroup and pause before we do anything else.
    Please see this picture on my blog which just breaks my heart.

  66. Ginjoint says:

    Your poignant words broke my heart too, Pam. Your post should be widely disseminated.

    Dr. E: Agreed. All of it.