American Splendor (I know it's been out a while)

I just rented this and enjoyed it…I knew very little about Harvey Pekar, so I learned a lot.
I never saw him on Letterman, but I understand he was a semi-regular guest. I always thought Letterman was rather condescending to his guests and that he tried to subtly ridicule them. So I thought it was cool that someone stood up to Letterman.
I wonder if Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons was modeled after Harvey’s friend, Toby. They sound the same.
My husband didn’t like the movie, because he thought Harvey was extremely self-absorbed, but at the same time, full of self-loathing. He didn’t like that combination.
Great performance by Paul Giamatti.

I liked it a lot. My #2 movie from 2003.

Here’s the thing no one seems to have figured out about it:

I view it as an happy, upper, kind of film. Some view it as all downer.


A tiny local theater was the only screen in Atlanta showing that movie; I was literally the only patron when I went. Kind of appropriate – a socially awkward, balding middle-aged man sitting alone in the dark and watching Harvey Pekar’s story…

The DVD is on my to-buy list. I remember seeing Harvey on Letterman in the 1980s; here’s one exchange I remember.

HP: My sinuses were killing me, so I went to see an ENT guy –

DL: That’s Ear, Nose and Throat.

HP: Yeah, real good, David.

That got a laugh.

I meant to add, I also found that the film cheered me up too. There’s a lot of compassion in American Splendor.

Gail, you might check out the documentary Crumb, which is about Pekar’s friend R. Crumb, the famous underground comic artist. Warning – if you think Robert Crumb is odd, wait till you meet his brothers and mother.

I saw Crumb years ago…one thing I remember of it was that Crumb took a correspodance art course…or at least tested for it and did extremely bizarre drawings…I think he was just supposed to duplicate a cartoon turtle. I remember a drawing of a tree with many heads incorporated in the trunk.

I found the American Splendor uplifting in an odd way. Pekar is definitely a curmudgeon, but in the end, he had to admit life was good to him. I liked the part about his adopted daughter…that he never had or wanted biological children, but that there was a child out there for him anyway.