Underground Film Journal

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Harvey Pekar: Conversations

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 19, 2008

While I’ve stopped writing about comics and books on the¬†Underground Film Journal (unless they’re underground film related), this is a special occasion.

An old interview I did with legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar for a previous website has been reprinted in the new book Harvey Pekar: Conversations, edited by Michael G. Rhode. My interview was conducted in February 1999. I had been a huge Pekar fan for years — and still am — so although the interview only lasted a few minutes and is just five pages in the book, it was one of the real highlights of my writing career. (The old website has been deleted from the web.)

At the time, Pekar was still a fairly obscure figure in the comics scene. That would soon change in 2002 when the feature film adapted from his autobiographical comics, American Splendor, played at several major film festivals, including Cannes and Sundance, and won several awards before going on to a successful theatrical run.

The interviews in Rhodes’ book, which is published by the University Press of Mississippi, cover the years 1984 to 2007. I’m only about 3/4 of the way through the book as I write this and I’m loving it. It’s a great book that I would totally own and enjoy even were I not in it. Pekar is always a great interview and, like with reading his comics over the years, it’s great fun to see how he’s changed, and how he’s not changed over the years. The interviews, reprinted in chronological order, is almost like reading Pekar’s journal, particularly in regards to the film. We get to hear Pekar’s developing thoughts about all the failed movie options, the one good one and his reaction to his newfound “fame.”

Pekar has always been a huge influence on me and my writing, even though I gave up writing autobiographical pieces on the web years ago. What struck me as funny this morning as I was reading a couple more interviews is how much I feel some of my writing career matches Harvey’s. Here I am in my 30s with an obscure little publication, hustling my way to make some bread on it (to use a Pekar parlance).

So, it’s a real thrill to be in this great book about one of my major idols. My deepest and most sincere thanks to both Harvey Pekar for granting a nobody like me the interview (and footing the bill for the call) and to Michael Rhode for digging it up and putting it in his amazing book.

Buy Harvey Pekar: Conversations at Amazon!

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