American Splendor adapts to screen the life of a man who walks down the path no one else would dare to tread. Harvey Pekar, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, is the creator of the comic and the subject of the film. Far from the Hollywood limelight, Pekar is a "genuine jerk" who "refuses to play it for laughs or sympathy" (Arnold 1). Nevertheless, the working class life he led as a file clerk became the subject of a praised comic and eventually worthy of an adapted screenplay.
"American Splendor's tone never venture[s] too far toward triumph or tragedy: it [holds] steady at sour, fatalistic, and inconclusive-yet somehow affirming" (Edelstein 1). By presenting the film in such a way; free of special effects, explosions, and dramatic car chases, American Splendor reveals an aspect of filmmaking that is rare today in the realm of conventional media; reality. This, in addition to allowing the viewer to observe the life of Pekar in an autobiographical manner by combining documentary footage, animation, cartoons, and double-cast roles, creates a truly unique piece of art very different from any other example of film or TV.
In contrast to canned television drama, Pekar's issues are not resolved in thirty minutes. In fact, they are not resolved by the end of the film. Though there are glimpses of hope, the grey cloud hovering above his head never seems to fade. The same overlaying tone of gloom is seen in the comic, for a day in the life of his American Splendor character would begin and end just as his own: "[Ending] with the hero shrugging, giving a little homily, living to mope another day" (Edelstein 1). Pekar did, however, want recognition and praise for his work.
An opportunity came when "Late Night" with David...