Harvey Pekar, who revolutionized the comic book medium by focusing on the lives of ordinary people like himself rather than spandex-clad superheroes, has died at the age of 70.
“He will be remembered as an innovator who wrote stories about ordinary things that were then illustrated by some of the most notable cartoonists of the late 20th century,” said Lucy Shelton Caswell, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University, in an obituary from The Associated Press. “People identified with what was writing about and the stories that these people were drawing because it was so ordinary.”
Pekar wrote and featured in the underground comic American Splendor, which was drawn by a variety of artists and was adapted as a critically acclaimed film in 2003. It showed that the medium of comic books could be put to a wider use than genres like fantasy, science fiction and horror.
The cause of his death is not yet known. Pekar has battled several ailments, including cancer, the subject of his 1994 graphic novel Our Cancer Year.