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A brief peek at Pekar

August 14, 2003|Iris Schneider

Harvey PEKAR is busy these days. Not in the way he's usually busy -- chronicling his life in "American Splendor," the comic book -- but busy being wined, dined, interviewed, photographed and flown across the country to promote "American Splendor," the movie. But he wasn't too busy for a quick bite at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he was staying last week.

"I'm not going to be able to find anything to eat here," he announced, scoping out the Pratesi linens on the tables, the fresh flowers, the tuxedoed waiters in the hotel's restaurant. "Let's go back to the room and we can make some sandwiches." But time didn't permit, so the fancy lunch would have to do.

Things are going well for Harvey. The film won the top drama prize at Sundance, the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival and even the Last Laugh award in July at the Monthly Montreal Comix Jam at Casa del Popolo. The Last Laugh seemed to mean a lot. "Now if I am ever in a room with Rodney Dangerfield," he said, "I can look him in the eye."

All the attention hasn't been easy for a really regular guy like Harvey. He is under the public's microscope now and on a tight schedule. As we rushed through lunch he paused. "I've got the hiccups. Don't tell my wife," he fretted. "She thinks I'm a schlub."

Will success, fame or a lot of public exposure change everybody's favorite antihero? "No, I'm still gloomy," he replied.

But he did say it with a smile.

-- Iris Schneider

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