What makes American Splendor so good is not its postmodern switching between “Harvey Pekar” the character and Harvey Pekar the bonafide on-screen weirdo himself–that aspect of the film borders on the cutesy–but the clarity and humor with which it portrays the grubby melancholy of lower-middle-class urban life….
At the same time, I think it should be pointed out that the “Harvey Pekar” of American Splendor is a semi-fictional character, and that a movie about the real Harvey Pekar might well have been even more interesting than American Splendor, if less touching. Yes, Harvey the celebrated author of autobiographical comic books and “Harvey” the fictional author of autobiographical comic books both spent a quarter-century working at crappy jobs at the Cleveland VA hospital, survived cancer, razzed David Letterman on camera, found love, and started a family. But the real Harvey Pekar is not simply some hapless record-collecting schlub from Cleveland who decided one day to write comic books about his working-class life. He is also a full-fledged left-wing intellectual–homemade, to be sure, but the shoe still fits–who reviews books for the Village Voice and does regular commentaries on NPR….
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