Quitters and Lions.
Time for another round of Comic Book/Graphic Novel dorkiness. Today’s installment is featuring yet another Harvey Pekar offering: “The Quitter.” At this point – I’m not sure if I’m on some Harvey Pekar kick – or if the Multnomah County Library is. I snagged this from my local branch while tooling through the graphic novel section…I swear. This wasn’t something I actively sought out.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the artwork, by Dean Haspiel. It was much more stylized than the two most recent Pekar books I reviewed. Of course it’s black and white. But the lines are thicker, darker and moodier – which is perfect for this “coming of age” story about the man himself, Mr. Harvey Pekar.
Thematically – the title captures the subject matter perfectly. It’s about a scruffy kid who’s entire fate is sculpted around his decision to quit important things in his life when they proved to be too difficult for him to achieve. It’s not a heroic story – it’s very anti-heroic, and perfectly suited to Pekar – who is (probably begrudginly) an anti-hero. His whole comic schtick is painting real life portraits of real life people – without all that “superhero crap.”
I’m pretty intrigued by his most recent batch of comic books, which have either offered biographical fare, or historical content. The idea of a comic book is so simple, and IMHO, perfectly suited to telling stories to a modern day audience. I would much rather ingest information with pictures and words. I think there are a lot of folks in my generation who feel that way. Modern day media is all about mixing images and words (and sounds as well) to engage all aspects of learning.
Me – I’m totally a visual person. I think a lot of people respond to PICTURES as opposed to giant chunks of text. I wish there were more of a push for “educational” graphic novels in schools.
But seriously – this book actually gave me more (if that’s even possible) insight into Harvey Pekar – the forces that shaped him into the man he is today. OK – there was a bit of whiney parent bashing, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the main thrust of the story.
And I loved the juxtaposition of the old, balding, sour faced Pekar next to his younger, some-times smiling visage.
During my work trip to Orcas Island, WA – I also read through a graphic novel written by Brian K. Vaughn called “Pride of Baghdad.” It’s the true story accounting of four lions who escaped from a city zoo during the 2003 bombing of Baghdad.
It’s a gorgeous book. The coloring is luscious (I’m a sucker for pretty art), and the artist, Niko Henrichon did a great job of capturing human expressions in a feline face.
The writing was excellent as well – the lions spoke and interacted with one another – but Vaughn did not forget to give them what I consider “lion-esque” reasoning.
The ending was abrupt and shocking, but I’m certain for allegorical reasons. In fact the entire book itself is an allegorical look at the idea of “freedom” and “liberation” – who has the power to grant freedom and for what purpose. The fact that it’s a true story adds another layer as well.
I think it’s worth mentioning that the last three comic books I’ve reviewed are a part of the DC Vertigo label, which are known for catering to teenagers and adults. Does that mean that I’ve crossed over to the edgier comics now? I don’t know. It could also be worth noting that Vertigo books are most of the only DC comics I enjoy reading. 🙂
Up Next: Fallen Angel (I promise).
Much Love, Mindy C