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the beautiful destruction

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

AMERICAN SPLENDOR: HARVEY PEKAR

American Splendor: Harvey Pekar
Pictured: Cleveland's own, Harvey Pekar.

Editor's note: While I had seen the book "American Splendor" on the shelves at comic shops much of my life, I never picked up a copy. For me growing up, if it wasn't a superhero title, I didn't care for it. But, after seeing the film American Splendor several years ago, I finally got to understand and enjoy the brilliance of Harvey Pekar. Also, as I get older, I have a much greater apprecation for the boundlessness of comics as a medium. With his writing, Harvey shows that the complexities of daily life are often as interesting as the elaborate, fictional worlds created in comics like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, or Superman. So, this post is intended to introduce Harvey Pekar to those who haven't already become acquainted with his work. I hope you enjoy.

American Splendor

About Harvey Pekar:
*Text from Harvey Pekar's website

Cleveland, Ohio native Harvey Pekar is best known for his autobiographical slice-of-life comic book series "American Splendor", a first-person account of Pekar’s downtrodden life. The series has been published on an approximately annual basis since 1976. Pekar self-published the series until the early 1990s, when Dark Horse took over publication. In 1987, Pekar was honored with the American Book Award for the series. Dark Horse celebrated the 25th anniversary of "American Splendor" in 2001 with a special issue.

"American Splendor" is illustrated by high-profile artists such as Robert Crumb, Frank Stack and Joe Sacco. The comic strip's international appeal was also made evident through Pekar's collaboration with comic book illustrator Colin Warneford of Gateshead, England for the aptly-titled issue "American Splendour: Transatlantic Comics."

Pekar began his writing career as a prolific music and book critic. His reviews have been published in The Boston Herald, The Austin Chronicle, Jazz Times, Urban Dialect (a paper native to Cleveland), and Down Beat Magazine, among many other journals. His critiques are available on the Internet at numerous websites and dispersed amongst personal homepages from his devoted fans. Pekar also collaborated with his wife, Joyce Brabner, on a book-length autobio comic "Our Cancer Year" (Four Walls Eight Windows).


American Splendor: Our Cancer Year

Pekar began working on a freelance basis with the critically acclaimed, award-winning radio station WKSU on April 12, 1999. Since his debut at the station, he has been honored with two prestigious awards. In July 2000, he was awarded first place in the PRNDI (Public Radio News Director’s Incorporated) "Commentary/Essay" section for his piece, "What's In a Name." In March 2001, RTNDA (Radio-Television News Director’s Association) honored Pekar with a 2001 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Writing for his piece "Father’s Day." The piece was entered into the national awards competition of the same name.


Pekar has made two cameo appearances in films and appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" eight times between 1986-1988. It was Pekar's interest in politics, and specifically NBC's affiliation with General Electric, that got him banned from the show. Eventually he was asked to return and Pekar made two more appearances in the early 1990s.


Despite keeping himself extremely busy with all of his contributions to various kinds of media, Pekar maintains a very low profile in Cleveland. In 2001, he retired from his job as a full-time file clerk at the local VA Hospital, where he had worked since 1966. He lives with his wife Joyce and they are the proud guardians of 15-year-old girl, Danielle.


Related links

Harvey Pekar's official website
American Splendor official film website
Harvey Pekar appearance on Letterman
R. Crumb official website
Joe Sacco's Fantagraphics profile

Monday, February 27, 2006

MADE YOU LOOK™ | LEMON

Lemon: A supernatural debut
Pictured: The debut issue of Lemon, from the creators of GUM.

This weekend, while perusing the magazine section at Barnes & Noble, and feeling very bored by everything that I saw, I spotted the corner of a magazine that piqued my interest. Tucked behind 20 other magazines, and so wedged in the rack that it was almost touching the florescent tube lights inside the shelf, I carefully slid the magazine out from what could have very well been its final resting place.

I anxiously opened up the book and began carefully leafing through the pages. This thing is fucking beautiful, I thought to myself. Not only is the magazine large format (12" x 12" at least), the cover has a stunning veneer with some sort of laser-cut icons on it. Plus, the interior is layed out and designed with the utmost attention to detail. And, what's most impressive, is that Kevin Grady and Colin Metcalf (the fellows responsible for Lemon) didn't skimp on content as so many glossy design-centric magazines often do.

The content includes a tribute to Bill Murray; a last page column penned by JT Leroy, Lemon's editor-at-large and now infamous literary figure; a special music section that's layed out like a comic book and features Aesop Rock, Annie and one other artist I'm forgetting; and a host of other great stuff. Oh yea, and there are Lemon-scented inserts throughout the book that act as guideposts/mini table of contents. However, these are the guys that put together GUM Magazine, so Lemon is only a natural progression. Impressive, most impressive.

Related links
Lemon Magazine
GUM magazine

DON KNOTTS | REST IN PEACE

Don Knotts as Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show
Pictured: Don Knotts as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.

On Friday night, comedic legend Don Knotts died of pulmonary and respiratory complications at a California hospital. While Knotts' career in show business spanned more than 4 decades, his most iconic role was as the hapless Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. For the folks from my generation though, he'll always be remembered as Mr. Furley, the aging bachelor landlord from Three's Company.

Click here for an article about Knotts' life and career.

Related links

Don Knotts' official website
Vintage Dodge Adventurer ad with Don Knotts

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Pedal-Powered Revolutiont
Pictured: Bicyclist in attendance at the BFF; Photo by Peter Sutherland.

I've been keeping extremely busy the past month or so, hence the lag on fresh posts around here. My apologies. So it seemed only appropriate that, while I'm tidying up the content, I hit you off with a big update.

I just wrapped up a bunch of diffferent writing projects. I penned a biography for the gentlemen from Zombi (Relapse records), an incredible two-piece band that fuses the technicality of prog rock with dense, mulit-layered instrumentals. Check out the bio here and try to catch them live during their current Winter/Spring tour. My article about the Bicycle Film Festival, that I collaborated on with friend and photographer Peter Sutherland, drops in this month's issue of Anthem Magazine. It's called "Pedal-Powered Revolution." You can check out an excerpt by clicking here.

For the latest issue of The Drama (available now), I sat down and chatted with Detroit native and artist extraordinaire AJ Fosik, for a feature titled "Fables & Folktales." Fosik's work is rather incredible (see the related links for a peek at his work) and worth your time. Check out the new issue by clicking here. Lastly (at least for the moment), at the end of January I released a new zine called Dungeon through Poison Control. It's stocked to the gills with interviews, essays, and site-specific artwork, and it's only $3. Please email me at info@poison-control.com if your interested in purchasing a copy.

Well, I think that's all the shameless self-promotion I can handle for now. It's time to catch up on watching all the shit I've got on my TiVO.

Related links

Official Zombi website
Relapse Records
Anthem Magazine
Bicycle Film Festival
The Drama
AJ Fosik
Poison Control

SETH FISHER | REST IN PEACE

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Pictured: Artwork for Fantastic Four: Big In Japan by Seth Fisher.

Though I'm a longtime comic book reader, I only recently (last year) discovered the work of Seth Fisher. A close friend recommended I check out his work. I was really taken by Seth's distinctly original style. The lush colors, extensive detail, and inherent humor in his artwork was strikingly fresh. I was very sad to hear that such a young and talented artist (who was also a husband and father) had died. Rest in piece.

Here is a brief message, written by Seth's sister, about his untimely death:

"It's much too soon, but the Flowering Nose will flower no more. Seth has died (July 22, 1972 to January 30, 2006). Monday, January 30th Seth Fisher died accidentally from a fall. His death was sudden, swift, and a great loss to us all. His funeral and cremation occurred on February 2nd in Nagoya. Condolences can be sent to his wife Hisako and son Toufuu via the contact information on this site."

Related links

Official Seth Fisher website
Silver Bullet Comics interview
Comic Foundry interview

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

MADE YOU LOOK™ | SERGE SEIDLITZ

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Pictured: Teen Wolf by Serge Seidlitz.

Name: Serge Seidlitz
Classification: Illustrator
Official website: www.sergeseidlitz.com

Editor's note: When I first stumbled across Serge's work, my jaw dropped open, and a little bit of drool collected in the corners of my mouth. Not only is he a prolific artist, his work consistently conveys a sense of quality and craftsmanship. This shit is superb. Matthew Newton

An English/ German hybrid, born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1977, Serge grew up traveling between the UK and Asia, he studied graphic design at Camberwell College of Art, graduating in the class of 2000, he currently resides in London working as a full time illustrator. His website is updated as regularly as possible. *Bio sniped from Imperfect Articles website (linked below).

Related links
Imperfect Articles
Debut Art
PinPops
Flavorpill

Monday, February 06, 2006

CITY OF CHAMPIONS

Free Image Hosting at ImageShack.us
Pictured: One for the fuckin' thumb.

For anyone born in late 1970s Pittsburgh, it's safe to say that growing up in this city has been a strange but beautiful experience. While I love Pittsburgh, and still reside here to this day, the city has always felt like a town lost in the shuffle of modern society. After the city's major steel mills closed down in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the Steelers stopped winning Super Bowls, it seemed as though the eyes of the nation stopped looking our way. I even recall, while watching one of VH1's multitude of "I Love the 70s" shows, a smug and tragically-untalented commentator saying something along the lines of: "After the 70s, we all just forgot about Pittsburgh." While the same nonchalant and condescending tone could be attributed to the underwhelming career of any commentator involved with VH1's programming, Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers in general are a far more resilent bunch.

That's what makes the Steelers Super Bowl championship so awesome. It completes a circle with the city's storied past -- i.e. the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s -- while looking forward to what we all know will be a bright and prosperous future.

Related links:
Post-Super Bowl win 1979


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