AS 29: Part of the Story (with Alex Robinson)
American Splendor scene #29 (1:31:12 to 1:37:31) — Alex Robinson of Star Wars Minute joins Josh & Dean for the final scene of the film! (Well, actually, six little “scenelets.”) It’s one year later, and Harvey & Joyce sign Our Cancer Year. Harvey is declared cancer-free! They adopt Danielle, and Harvey adjusts to being a parent (of a sort). The real Harvey retires from the VA hospital, and the movie ends with a group hug.
For Alex, discovering American Splendor was “like LSD in reverse.” An ode to Alex’s work, particularly Box Office Poison and the characters Jane Pekar and Irving Flavor. We learn that “Pekar” means “baker” (in Czech)! The idea of a Harvey Pekar walking tour of Cleveland. “On the money”: all the books Harvey published between 2003 and 2010 (his death). Which Star Wars character would Harvey play?
Shout-outs to Star Wars Minute (of course), Frank Stack, the Harvey Award, Harvey Comics, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Hot Stuff, Richie Rich, Godfather Minute, Gary Dumm, Lakewood, Collectors Warehouse, Gene Colan, Siegel & Shuster, Nightstalker, Jack Kirby, the School of Visual Arts, Will Eisner, Carmine Infantino, Gahan Wilson, Love & Rockets, Madylin Sweeten, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Everybody Loves Raymond, cold pizza, ice skating, getting older, Portland, the Cleveland Halloran Ice Rink, re-reading your own comics, deadline art, The Little Mermaid, the Comics Code vs. the Hays Code, Matrix: Revolutions and crappy sequels, manga like Akira & Crying Freeman, Mike Hueston, Van Halen & green M&Ms, brown M&Ms?, reversed vasectomies, Wo Hop, La Caridad, the Russian & Turkish Baths, Mark Zingarelli, Robert McNeill, American Splendor: Unsung Hero, Dark Horse Comics, chess boxing, Alex Toth, Our Expanding Universe, the iPad Pro, Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, C-3PO, and My Dinner with André. Ingy Wamba!
After Harvey’s retirement in 2001, and before the movie debuted in 2003, Harvey went through a very tough time, as documented in “The Way It’s Going,” ©2002 by Harvey Pekar, with art by Joe Sacco (Happy Endings, Dark Horse Maverick, 2002)….
Here’s a slightly more hopeful summary of those two years, from the Sundance Film Festival Daily Insider; later republished in American Splendor: Our Movie Year, ©copyright ©2004 Harvey Pekar, art by Mark Zingarelli…
One more tidbit from this episode: Guest Alex Robinson mentions the American Splendor story he read about the time a friend of Harvey’s came to visit him for the weekend and Harv had trouble thinking of things for them to do. A classic example of “ordinary life is complex stuff”!
We believe the story Alex was referring to was “Freddy Visits for the Weekend,” in American Splendor #5, ©copyright 1980 by Harvey Pekar, art by R. Crumb. (Doesn’t hurt when your story is illustrated by Crumb!)
P.S. That’s Harvey’s second wife, Lark, in this story.
In fact, an (amended) panel from this story appears in the movie (scene 13), when Shari Springer Berman asks Harvey how his co-workers and friends feel about ending up in American Splendor:
This is the image that appeared in the film…