Poor schmuck Harvey Pekar– gets to be censored on Israel posthumously!

Israel/Palestine
on 32 Comments

Harvey Pekar was the bard of Cleveland, the famously-difficult author of comic books who died on July 11. An anonymous friend writes:

He was very much a part of Jewish-American leftist culture. A couple of books are coming out posthumously. One is a comic collection he helped edit with Paul Buhle coming out soon called "Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land," about Jewish-American history (per editor Charles Kochman, in comments here). I had heard that another Harvey Pekar book would be a critical look at Zionism and Israel. According to this interview with his publisher, they have decided to "turn it into a debate" because of his "harsh" views, after his death.

The interview is in Eric Herschthal’s piece on Pekar’s death, in the New York Jewish Week.

“I think he relished the opportunity to do some explicitly Jewish work,” Abe Socher told me last week. Socher is the editor of The Jewish Review of Books, a Cleveland-based quarterly that Pekar began contributing to earlier this year, when the magazine debuted. 

…Socher mentioned that Pekar talked a lot about Yiddish authors, too. He loved Yakov Glatsein, and hated I.B. Singer. When Pekar came around the magazine’s office two weeks ago to pick up the newest issue with his work, just 10 days before his death, he told Socher he was watching the recent fight over Chaim Grade’s papers particularly closely as well. 

But Pekar could be just as stubborn in his opinions as he was [famously] on Letterman’s show, Socher added. Pekar has been quietly working on an illustrated history of Israel with JT Waldman, a young Jewish illustrator. Waldman told me that he still plans to publish it, but since Pekar’s views on Israel were particularly harsh, they turned the book into a sustained debate between Pekar and Waldman, who holds less critical views. 

Which is not to say he was un-self-critical. Quite the contrary, Socher suggested. His self-loathing was perhaps his most identifiable trait.

About Philip Weiss

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32 Responses

  1. hayate
    July 22, 2010, 10:06 pm

    Hey, anyone who will take a leak on that bunged up goatsod letterman is OK in my book.

    RIP Harvey Pekar.

    • hayate
      July 22, 2010, 10:24 pm

      That talentless anal egotist, letterman, is a good example of what is totally, completely wrong with american apolitical television and media in general and why it is unwatchable. They take the worst and promote it, while talent languishes. The advert readers become the “stars” in this worthless system.

  2. Ethan Heitner
    July 22, 2010, 10:13 pm

    I know Phil frequently likes to make links between anti-zionists and the civil rights movement.

    According to this story, Harvey Pekar travelled with an interracial couple who were civil rights activists from Cleveland to Detroit so he could be a witness to their at-the-time highly controversial wedding. Not a Freedom Rider, but definitely a sympathizer?

  3. Richard Parker
    July 22, 2010, 11:06 pm

    This is the most parochial post I’ve seen yet.

    Bard of Cleveland indeed! I’m still renowned as the ‘Bard of Nether Poppleton’ (Yorkshire, England) although I haven’t written anything potical [sic] since I was 14 years old.

    Can you tell us if this character actually ever did anything, apart from the bum-fluff your ‘anonymous friend’ gives you?

    • Ethan Heitner
      July 22, 2010, 11:25 pm

      Uhm, he’s Harvey Pekar, son. Get an education before you open your mouth.

      Here’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer quoting R. Crumb on Harvey Pekar and Cleveland:
      “He’s the soul of Cleveland,” Crumb told The Plain Dealer in 1994. “He’s passionate and articulate. He’s grim. He’s Jewish. I appreciate the way he embraces all that darkness.”

      In the same obit they quote the NY Review of Books:
      “In 1989, the New York Times Book Review said, “Mr. Pekar’s work has been compared by literary critics to Chekhov’s and Dostoevski’s, and it’s easy to see why.”

      • Richard Parker
        July 22, 2010, 11:46 pm

        Uhm, he’s Harvey Pekar, son. Get an education before you open your mouth.

        So, was Harvey Pekar known outide the Cleveland area? Or was he a godling for American ‘liberals’? How many of them ever read Chekhov’s and Dostoevski’s works?

        And Robert Crumb can be just as much of an asshole: “He’s passionate and articulate. He’s grim. He’s Jewish. I appreciate the way he embraces all that darkness.”

        And don’t ever again address me as ‘son’.

      • hayate
        July 23, 2010, 12:35 am

        Richard Parker July 22, 2010 at 11:46 pm

        When I was about 16, in skool, we were tasked to read and review dosto’s “crime and punishment”. To this day I do not see what the hoopla of that shite was all about. I’m not even sure how much I read of it, but definitely less than the first 100 pages. I ad-libbed the review I wrote from what I speculated of what came after. I smoked a lot of weed back then. I mean a lot, more than most smoked cigs. The teach found nothing wrong with my review based upon my non-reading of the work, yet he was a fan and fully cogniscent of what the novel was about. That should tell you how deep dosto is. There is a lot better Russian shit out there, especially now.

      • Citizen
        August 16, 2012, 10:35 am

        @ Hayate
        Quite amazing that you diss Dostoevski so; have you ever read The Idiot, or The Brothers Karamazov? The Possessed (The Devils)? Compared to this great great Russian writer, Pekar was a comic book version of The Underground Man–and not nearly as good. I say that liking the work of both creators.

      • annie
        July 22, 2010, 11:51 pm

        thanks for the link ethan

    • RoHa
      July 23, 2010, 6:15 am

      He was the Bard of Cleveland, Richard.
      Worship his memory, even though no-one in the real world has heard of him.

  4. annie
    July 22, 2010, 11:36 pm

    i love him in this letterman clip. he goes after GE and embarrasses dave. perfect!

  5. annie
    July 22, 2010, 11:56 pm

    phil, your first link (‘per editor Charles Kochman’) isn’t working..

  6. demize
    July 23, 2010, 12:30 am

    I had no idea he was “Jewish” I assumed he was whatever they are in Cleveland,lol. Ukrainian Orthadox like Pittsburgh or something. American Splendor man C’mon. R.Crumb isn’t “Jewish is he? I know he had a think for riding on the backs of big hairy Jewish chicks though. YMMV.

  7. hayate
    July 23, 2010, 12:42 am

    “I know he had a think for riding on the backs of big hairy Jewish chicks though. YMMV.”

    Where I live there are a lot of beeg, I mean BEEG chicks driving big pick-ups. I don’t know if they are overly furry, though, or if any are Jewish, having never been curious enough to find out.

    ;D

    • maximalistNarrative
      July 23, 2010, 4:02 am

      Hayate your above comment crosses the line.

      • Mooser
        July 23, 2010, 10:27 am

        “Hayate your above comment crosses the line.”

        Oh, sorry, whoops, just erased the line. It’s over there now.
        But don’t worry Max, we understand how 2500 years persecution can give a guy a very imperious, commanding air. It’s no wonder you think all you have top do is express distaste and authority will spring into action. While you, of course, abide no questions (if “abide” is the word I want).

      • hayate
        July 23, 2010, 11:51 am

        maximalistNarrative July 23, 2010 at 4:02 am

        “Hayate your above comment crosses the line.”

        You’re not my type,get over it, little boi.

      • hayate
        July 23, 2010, 1:16 pm

        Now put that wig back on, get back in your pick-up and drive away.

      • Citizen
        August 16, 2012, 10:37 am

        @ maximalistNarrative,
        What line is that?

    • Mooser
      July 23, 2010, 10:22 am

      lot of beeg, I mean BEEG chicks

      The word you are looking for (or the one I’m thrusting in front of your face, anyway) is zoftig.

      But what I’m seeing up here in the adipose department isn’t just zoftig it’s a tragedy. Mostly women, and some men, being smothered by their own bodies.

  8. maximalistNarrative
    July 23, 2010, 2:37 am

    You are all salivating over another possible traitor

    • Mooser
      July 23, 2010, 10:27 am

      Don’t worry, no one will ever replace you in our hearts Maxila.

  9. hughsansom
    July 23, 2010, 6:53 am

    So, after Harvey Pekar is dead and unable to respond or defend himself, his publisher and illustrator will take advantage to water down his views, edit, distort and generally fuck up Pekar’s work. For any familiar with the genre of comic books (I’m an addict), this is why writers and not illustrators get top billing. It’s the writer’s creative vision that drives the work — with some important exceptions. Pekar’s illustrator and publisher are trying invent, emphasis on “invent”, without Pekar’s permission.

    Other creative people have very expressly barred distributors, publishers, studios have gone to great lengths to prevent this. Woody Allen expressly barred converting his black & white work to color. Mark Twain, H. L. Menchken, Francis Bacon, and many others would rather have destroyed their work than see it altered posthumously.

    • RoHa
      July 23, 2010, 7:45 am

      And that, hughsansom, is the important point. He said the wrong things, so he cannot be allowed to publish them.

      Zionism is more important than intellectual honesty or basic decency.

    • hayate
      July 23, 2010, 12:01 pm

      I am generally against capital punishment, though I do make an exception for those who censor others work. I think they should be publicly executed in a very spectacular, creative, lingering and public way.

  10. Citizen
    July 23, 2010, 9:33 am

    In contrast, Spiegelman’s Maus won a Pulitizer Prize, in 1992 if memory serves–I think that’s the only comic book that has achieved such recognition.
    Would be interesting to see Pekar’s work done on the Illustrated History Of Israel, or even the Illustrated Debate to date.

  11. Citizen
    July 23, 2010, 9:58 am

    Pekar’s on-going work would’ve been interesting to say the least–he titled it How I Lost Faith In Israel.
    link to graphicpolicy.com

    This working class Larry David, illustrated by R Crumb?

    • Citizen
      July 23, 2010, 10:26 am

      “On the subject of autobiographers running out of material, Bechdel joked that she’s writing a memoir about the writing of her last memoir. Pekar then mentioned that the lack of material is one of the reasons for writing “Macedonia: The Least Publicized of the Baltic States” and “How I Lost My Faith in Israel,” a critical work about politics in the Middle East that Pekar predicts “will piss off a lot of people” if it’s published.” link to comicbookresources.com

  12. Mooser
    July 23, 2010, 11:24 am

    Speaking of “big” women

    Don’t worry, it’s “work safe”. Nobody no’s the trouble obscene! Well, maybe not if your boss is a wing-nut. But aren’t they all?

  13. maximalistNarrative
    July 23, 2010, 9:24 pm

    The living are being censored as we speak, oh look, “my comment is awaiting moderation” no need to wait until death for draconian censorship.

    • Citizen
      July 25, 2010, 9:48 am

      Right, you prefer white phosphorous for censorship.

      • tear-stained uzi
        August 16, 2012, 11:20 am

        White phosphorus is kosher (except after Labor Day).

        I hope this comment doesn’t cross max’s red line and result in more of that draconian censorship stuff…

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