Nine years ago I walked onto the set of “American Splendor” in my Crumb costume and met Harvey Pekar for the first time. He saw me, beamed and exclaimed in his full-throated rasp “That’s him! That’s the guy!” It meant a lot. Later that day, after he’d watched me perform a scene, he said I really had Crumb down and a couple days after that he told me he’d spoken to the man himself on the phone and had assured him that “he was in good hands.” That really meant a lot.
His wife Joyce and daughter Danielle were around for the shoot and one of the pleasures of meeting Harvey was meeting them as well. They were a beautiful and unconventional unit and the love between them, with its often hilarious motif of mutual wry bemusement, was real as the Cleveland rain. If you will.
He was a writer from the ground up who really said something about a very American kind of plodding and yearning and, goddamit, passion. He was also entertaining as hell— on Letterman in the ’80s there was nobody on TV who belonged on it less and deserved to be on it more. He made his mark. His fans are legion, his books are classics, his wife and daughter adored him. We should all be so lucky.
(Cross-posted to Tumblr)