April 18, 2014

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Cleveland comic book author Harvey Pekar dead at 70

“American Splendor” comic book author Harvey Pekar has died at age 70, according to Cuyahoga County coroner’s spokesman Powell Caesar.

CT photo by Chuck Humel.

CT photo by Chuck Humel.

Pekar, who devoted his life to showing that ordinary existence is rich and varied, was found by his wife in his Cleveland Heights home about 1 a.m., Caesar said.

Cleveland Heights police Capt. Michael Cannon told the Associated Press Pekar had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression.

Listen to CT reporter Cindy Leise’s 2009 interview with Pekar:

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Pekar’s “American Splendor” comics, which he began publishing in 1976, chronicle his grousing about work, money and the monotony of life.

“I’m a hustler,” Pekar told Chronicle reporter Cindy Leise during an interview in 2009. “I thought about it and thought, ‘Yeah, let me do something really off the wall and at least get a few laughs.’ ”

He was speaking about an opera of his that received its world premiere in a free performance at Finney Chapel in Oberlin.

During an interview in his famously cluttered Cleveland Heights home, Pekar offered popsicles and chatted about the opera, which is a collaboration with jazz musician Dan Plonsey.

Pekar said he was excited — and a little nervous — about the project.

“I don’t see myself as an opera guy, although I’ve got a range of interests that might surprise some people,” Pekar said.

Then 69, Pekar said he’s written jazz and book criticism since he was 19. He’s been published in The Austin Chronicle, Jazz Times, Down Beat magazine and The Scene in Cleveland.