THE NEW AMERICAN SPLENDOR ANTHOLOGY (Ballantine Books, 2010 Printing- original compilation published in 1991; Softcover)
Collects selections from American Splendor #3-15, Flamed-Out Funnies #1, Comix Book #4, Snarf #6, Strip AIDS U.S.A, Aargh!, Ed The Happy Clown, Real Stuff #1, Colin Upton's Big Thing #1, and three previously unpublished stories (cover dates 1978-1991)
Writer: Harvey Pekar
Artists: Drew Friedman, Robert Crumb, Frank Stack, Val Mayerik, James Sherman, Gerry Shamray, Joe Zabel, Gary Dumm, Rebecca Huntington, Ed Wesolowski, Paul Mavrides, Alison Bechdal, Laura Darnell Dumm, William Fogg, Alan Moore, Carole “Paczki” Sobocinski, Spain Rodriguez, Mark “M. A.” Zingarelli, Bill Knapp, Kevin Brown, Greg Budgett, J. R. Statts, Willy Murphy, Robert Armstrong, L. B. Armstrong, Chester Brown, Jim Woodring, and Colin Upton
Some folks turn to alcohol or drugs when things go south. I turn to reading a Harvey Pekar book. It was during a long, brutally cold snap earlier this month when I decided to bask in Pekar's philosophies on life. Pekar seldom gives you the answers, but his work seems to point the reader in the right direction. Indeed, Pekar's self doubts keep him from finding the answers himself.
Pekar gives you real slices of life stories from the man on the street angle. There aren't too many regular Joe, working man on the street types anymore. Everyone acts like they are too good for everything, too smart, or too rich. The reality of the situation is that those folks are acting the fool, and Pekar is in on the joke.
I checked out the American Splendor movie from 2003 from the library just after I finished this book, and I'm glad that I did. I like to read the source material before seeing a film. Half of this book wound up in the film. Toby and the Revenge Of The Nerds segment, Pekar's numerous visits on The David Letterman Show, and a few other small bits that are reprinted here come to life in that film. The movie is of course fantastic.
There are a lot of one page gags and asides that Pekar did for other comics that do not feature Our Man (the name of Harvey Pekar in comic book form). Most of them are forgettable. This is a less personal take on Our Man than in the other Pekar books that I've read so far but it is still essential reading.
The artwork is a mixed bag, and most of it is not my cup of tea. I really enjoyed Drew Friedman's artwork a lot, and there is a helping of Crumb which doesn't hurt things either.
I'll continue my Pekar marathon whenever I hit a bump in life. Stay tuned.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.
This book is wider than a standard modern day trade paperback.
Linework restoration: I have no original copies nor any source material to compare, so no comment. One of the stories looks murky, like it was sourced from a printed copy rather than film/photostats like the rest of the material. It's night and day.
Paper stock: Matte stock with no coating.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.