17 July 2012

Before the Streets of Cleveland Comes...

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2005
Borrowed from a friend
Read June 2012
The Quitter

Writer: Harvey Pekar
Artist: Dean Haspiel
Gray Tones: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Pat Brosseau

The Quitter covers Harvey Pekar's childhood growing up in Cleveland. Some of this material was previously covered in American Splendor, but not much of it; that tended to focus on Harvey's later life, which only comes in at the very end here.  What can I say about it beyond that it might be my favorite Pekar comic yet?  He fills in his life in broad sketches, focusing into specific moments only a couple times, but this story really resonated with me-- as indeed, I suspect it would with anyone who's ever tried to do something and ended up giving up because it was hard. Or maybe just because of stupid reasons. The Quitter details Pekar's attempts to find something he won't give up at.

Pekar's short works resist "messages," but The Quitter has one, sort of, even if it's just that someday you might find something where you don't quit. Barely a message, but it's somehow uplifting, and I found myself feeling better about myself after finishing The Quitter, and I don't often like books that overtly try to do that to me.

Dean Haspiel might just be my favorite artistic collaborator for Pekar so far; his work is cartoony, but gritty, which suits Pekar's "neo-realist" style more so than some of the more realistic art I've seen in American Splendor, which tends to be too stiff to work as good comics.  Lee Loughridge-- who I know as Gotham Central's fabulous colorist-- accentuates the whole thing with good use of "gray tones."

Surely one of the better graphic memoirs I've ever read (and at this point, I've read too many!).

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