Reading American Splendor is always a refreshing visit back home for me, a native-Clevelander and now a resident San Diegan. The blue collar ideals. The working man’s mentality. The dreary outlook. I think when you grow up in that town you make no apologies for being a realist, a pessimist, or a skeptic. It’s the lack of sunshine that Clevelanders see on a day-to-day basis that makes you all piss and vinegar. With all of the sun I get now, I’m just not used to it, I’m homesick at times, and American Splendor grays up my day up just fine. From the black and white (and inkwashed) art, to Pekar’s groucho demeanor, there’s enough in here to get you down and kicking the dirt. It’s warranted given our world and live in general and this issue how well-versed and well-read Pekar is. From politics, global warming, the history of Russian and Jewish immigrants in Cleveland to avant-garde jazz, there’s a lot on his mind. The hours spent in Zubal’s bookstore tailor a well-read man. Whether you’re from Cleveland or not, you personally care about these observations or not, you’re still drawn to what HE thinks about them. Why? He captures everything that’s beautiful and equally ugly about living today in a few panels with his honest and blunt words–and that’s as American as you can get.
SHOCK VALUE: A+