Huntington, West Virginia “On the Fly”

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With an appreciation by Anthony Bourdain

Harvey Pekar modified the face of comics when his American Splendor sequence changed conventional slam-bang superhero motion with slice-of-life tales of his personal very strange existence in Cleveland, Ohio, as a file clerk, jazz-record collector, and philosophical curmudgeon. A lot as Seinfeld famously transcended sitcom conventions by being “a present about nothing,” Pekar’s deadpan chronicles of normal life—peppered with wry and caustic reflections—have remodeled comics from escapist fantasy into social commentary with voice balloons.

Huntington, West Virginia “On the Fly” is prime Pekar, recounting the irascible everyman’s on-the-road encounters with a cross part of characters—a profession felony turned limo-driving entrepreneur, a toy service provider obsessive about restoring a classic diner, comic-book archivists, indie filmmakers, and kids of the sixties—all of whom have tales to inform. By turns humorous, poignant, and insightful, these portraits à la Pekar showcase a one-of-a-kind grasp at work, channeling the stuff of common life into real American artwork.


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