Flashmob Fridays: Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

Today’s edition of Flashmob Fridays covers Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland (due out in March from Top Shelf). I enjoyed the advance look; I’ve had mixed reactions to Pekar’s autobiography before, but this volume really worked for me.

Visit the link to find out more, as well as reading praise from Alan David Doane, Christopher Allen, Roger Green, and Scott Cederlund.

Update: (2/22/12) Here’s my contribution in full:

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, illustrated by Joseph Remnant, is the quintessential Pekar autobiographical graphic novel, a love letter to his hometown that unblinkingly looks at the bad as well as the good. Pekar’s narration intertwines moments and memories of his life with incidents that demonstrate the downfall of what was once an industrial powerhouse.

I’ve never been able to really get the appeal of Pekar before. There was too much crotchety old man complaining about it, but here, the setting gives the work more of a hook for me. Looking at his life, even when he’s grumbling, as a parallel to the downturn of a great American metropolis puts things in perspective. Plus, I now better appreciate the viewpoint of someone older and with experience; I think of his comments as having more perspective. Having seen how a community can decline, some grumpiness is understandable.

Remnant’s work is a perfect choice for the material. It’s straightforward, well-suited to the journalistic approach, but has its own character. Instead of simply drawing what we’re being told, the illustrations add to the story by fleshing out the text and providing a real sense of place and time.

Harvey Pekar at Rock Hall of Fame

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is a fitting final work by the curmudgeon who made comic autobiography into the powerhouse it is today, as well as a wonderful starting point for anyone wanting to sample his work.

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