Our word of the day was definitely "curmudgeon," so here we're all making curmudgeonly Pekar faces...
I'm never in the group photo! So here's me...
I wrote a DISCUSSION GUIDE based on our conversation:
1. Pekar's stories were drawn by a variety of artists. Which ones did you like the most? How did different artists portray him? What do you think about his experience with R. Crumb?
2. Which of the stories did you like the most? (We dug the opening comic, the honeymoon/lost voice, the old Jewish lady in the grocery store...) Were the longer stories more engaging?
3. Pekar's stories are about everyday life, so do you find it merely banal or was he successful in a providing a deeper meaning?
4. How do you think his work holds up today? Is it dated? Do you think it would be better to read it as it originally came out (in smaller sections) rather than collected all together?
5. What's your take on Pekar's portrayal of women? Is he chauvinistic or respectful?
6. This was a text-heavy comic, basically talking heads. Did you find this tiring/boring/intense to read? Did you find his long-winded sections self-indulgent or simply more riveting and in-depth? And would it be successful if it was just writing? What did you think about the use of dialect/slang? What other comics are text-heavy?
7. Harvey Pekar is a bit of a polarizing character, in fact, our group was pretty divided on American Splendor. So did you love or hate being inside his neurotic head? Have you encountered other characters similar to him in comics? (The"working class intellectual.") What makes him unique?
8. Did you find him bravely honest because he never idealizes himself and he doesn't seem to care what others think of him? Or did you find him arrogant, whiny, and with a sense of entitlement because he's desperate for other people to respect him?
9. We recommend watching his appearance on Letterman as a group, and then discussed how his personality on paper and in real life compare. Do you find it almost painful to watch him?! Also check out the Pekar Project.
10. If he was getting his start now, how would his work be different? (We called his work "illustrated live journal.") Would he do a webcomic or would he simply write? Or would he just get lost buying records on ebay??