AS 26: Our Cancer Year (with Jeff “JahFurry” Newelt)

American Splendor scene #26 (1:18:34 to 1:24:48) — To his and Joyce’s great shock, Harvey is diagnosed with lymphoma. Joyce suggest he “make a comic book of the whole thing,” but Harvey just wants to die. Undeterred, Joyce enlists Fred, an artist, to illustrate the experience. Fred brings along Danielle, his daughter, on their first brainstorming session, and Joyce is smitten with the girl. Harvey agrees to participate in the comic — and asks Fred tp keep bringing Danielle along. Josh & Dean are again joined by Jeff “JahFurry” Newelt, who edited Harvey’s online Pekar Project and the graphic novel Cleveland.

“Fred” is an amalgam of artist Frank Stack and Danielle’s real father. A discussion of Frank Stack and his art, going back to his work as one of the first underground cartoonists. Harvey wrote comics in the spirit of jazz — with the right partner — and how he chose his collaborators. “What kind of a Jew are you” and Galicianers. JahFurry talks about working with the “late-period” Pekar. Harvey’s importance as a jazz critic and “power-broker,” and Jah’s theory that the movie misses “25% of Harvey’s persona.” Harvey’s 70th birthday, Harvey Heads, and the Chocolate Cake and Clams Incident. Our giddiest and most flatulent episode ever!

Shout-outs to James McCaffrey, The Adventures of Jesus, The Texas Ranger, Nick & Eddie restaurant, George Gilmore, Mike DiAvila, Burnzy’s Last Call, Viper, Howard Chaykin, American Flagg!, Michael Chabon’s The Escapist, Bizarro comics, The Quitter, Joseph Remnant, Rick Parker, Eleanor Davis, DC/Vertigo, Jonathan Vankin, Darwyn Cooke, Ty Templeton, Los Bros. Hernandez, Bob Fingerman, Rick Veitch, SMITH Magazine, A.D., Next Door Neighbor, #RealPekarTweets, Sean Pryor, Alan Moore, Jamie Zaft, John Zorn, Andy Statman, Kamasi Washington, Alice Coltrane, Pharell Saunders, Jonathan Ames, Jen Ferguson, Anthony Bourdain, Sokolowski’s Polish Food Emporium, Zip Comics, Top Shelf, Ben Katchor, Douglas Rushkoff, Larry Charles, and Lionel’s Lament.

Episode Notes

Musician Andy Statman is mentioned this episode. Here’s a piece Harvey wrote and Josh illustrated about Statman, which was originally published in The Village Voice and later appeared (in slightly different form ) in  American Splendor: Odds And Ends (Dark Horse, 1997). Lots of text!!

P.S. What Harvey says, in Yiddish, at the end of the piece roughly translates as “Grow like an onion with your head in the ground!”

JahFurry mentions that Harvey sometimes wrote the same story for two different artists to illustrate. We recently discovered that Josh was one of them! Here’s a story, “Instant Gratification,” that Joe Zabel & Gary Dumm illustrated in 1996, and the very same story, illustrated by Josh in 2003!

How Josh’s piece came about was directly related to the film. Harvey’s script for the story was posted on the American Splendor movie website as an invitation for people to try drawing it. Just for the heck of it (and not remembering Zabel’s version of it), Josh gave it a try.

Published in American Splendor: Odds And Ends (Dark Horse, 1997).
Published in The Vagabonds #2: Of Two Minds (Alternative Comics, 2006).

And here are two versions of the same story from American Splendor #3 and #4. As you can see, Harvey added a framing element to the second version as he continued playing with form…

As mentioned by JahFurry: Dean & Josh’s Lionel’s Lament collection, Because of YOU:


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