Monday, July 12, 2010


Harvy Pekar has died.

Lately, my mantra has been that famous Esther Dyson quotation, 'Always make new mistakes'.

The quotation that appears at the bottom of all of my work emails is from Kurt Vonnegut: "Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." I take this quote as a warning to myself; It's so easy to daydream about a perfect system. Getting into the dirty stuff of implementation and the boring stuff of making sure all of the cogs are turning is something else entirely.

Harvey Pekar kept me reading comic books at a period in my life when I desperately wanted to outgrow them. 'American Splendor' was a beautiful thing. It wasn't about big, grand blueprints on how to make a better world, it was about maintenance. It was about trying to always make new mistakes, even though inevitably you know you're going to find yourself back in your old neighborhood.

Another one of my heroes has bit the dust. My heroes have never been the ubermensch. They've always been humanistic old saps who are a little soft in the middle, but not short on heart.

Harvey Pekar (as he presented himself in his comic strips) was that kind of guy. He was a raw nerve who experienced even the most banal life-stuff with great agony and ecstasy.

He was my favorite kind of hero.


Lodo Grdzak said...

Thought it was very clever the way they straddled the Pekar role in the American Slendor movie. The dual role of the real Harvey along w/ the Giamatti guy. That movies really the only thing and way I know about Pekar, but...big shout-out to all Troxell heroes!

Willie Y said...

Tick, tick, tick.....time never takes a break. Heros have their time and leave something behind when they pass on.

Spencer Troxell said...

Lodo: He's worth looking into, if you're into that kind of thing. I think the movie represented the kind of stuff he did pretty well.

There are a lot of good comic books out there that are for grown ups.

Willie: And then we're supposed to be the heroes when our heroes move on. That's a big responsibility!

the elegant ape said...

A rare American talent. i will miss his sincere disregard.

Spencer Troxell said...

I'm seriously running out of cultural icons to look up to. In the past couple of years we lost Vonnegut, Terkel, Carlin, and now Harvey Pekar.

When Woody Allen checks out, I'll be the only moral compass I have left.