American Splendor film poster

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American Splendor

American Splendor is a series of autobiographical comic books and graphic novels written by Harvey Pekar. It was adapted into a movie in 2003. more...

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Pekar was one of the first writers to believe that everyday real life could be a vital a topic for comic books, traditionally the province of fantasy-adventure and other genre stories. He began his series in 1976 while working as a file clerk at a Veteran's Administration hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Being unable to draw himself, he recruited his friend and underground comics master Robert Crumb to help create a comics series based on Pekar's own life. A wide assortment of other artists, including Gary Dumm, Frank Stack and Joe Zabel, have also illustrated his stories, which are realistic and mostly true narratives dealing with the mundane troubles and frustrations of the everyday world. Pekar tends to document without much interpretation difficult living conditions ("keeping an old car alive in a Cleveland winter") and other people in his life such as co-worker Toby Radloff, an adult male with Asperger's Syndrome, who fills a life (initially appearing rather empty) with a variety of projects including fandom and inexpensive computers.

The series gained him cult-fame and notoriety, especially after Pekar became a recurring guest on Late Night with David Letterman.

In 2003 a movie adaptation featuring Paul Giamatti playing Pekar (as well as appearances by Pekar himself) and Hope Davis as his wife was released to critical acclaim and first honors at the Sundance Film Festival in addition to the award for best adapted screenplay from the Writer's Guild of America. It was written and directed by documentarists Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. It was entirely filmed on location in Cleveland and Lakewood in Ohio.


  • Pekar, Harvey (1991). The New American Splendor Anthology, Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 0-941423-64-6.
  • Pekar, Harvey (2003). American: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar, Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345468309.


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