Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Anti-Jigga

OK, there have been some who have taken the success of the film adaption of Harvey Pekar's 'American Splendor' as an excuse to berate Pekar for a percieved "mercenary" nature. (No links, I'm hardly going to give these people the exposure.) These folks will probably find this essay grist for their mills - further proof of Pekar's ultimately incorrigable status as a miser (courtesy, as with all things, of Journalista!).

I suppose its inevitable... but it seems to me that to complain about such a thing is to miss the whole point of Harvey Pekar, and what makes him work so well. Pekar writes about economic and spiritual depression. Living on the borderline as he does it makes as much sense for him to write about poverty as Jay-Z to rap about luxury - its their life to write about. I suppose some read his constant talk of money and see nothing more than a greedy old prick trying to figure out how to separate them from their cash in the most cynical way possible. I think its more to the point to say that Pekar's preocuppations aren't grating simply because they're true. If you want your art to be blissfully removed from commercial endevour, there should be ample volumes of Wordsworth and Whitman down at your local Borders. Right now and for the foreseeable future, Pekar's life entails trying to pay the rent - maybe it hits too close to home for some to be entertaining in the slightest but I can't conceive of another comic professional whose work is more apropos of today's world.

But all that said - I am surprised to see that the movie hasn't provided at least a noticeable uptick in his sales. Fantagraphics has never been shy about the fact that the semi-successful Ghost World film helped them sell a lot of copies of Ghost World books and even - gasp - selected merchandise items. I've seen the American Splendor movie tie-in and it looks like a great intro to his work - so why isn't it selling more copies? American Splendor has been a bit more successful that Ghost World was, I'd think. The universes continues to mystify me.

(Besides, was it a typo or was he complaining about getting his page rate boosted from $17 to $44? Am I nuts - or could that be considered a good move?)

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