Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

Quick Critiques – April 7, 2008

American Splendor Vol. 2 #1 (DC Comics/Vertigo imprint)
by Harvey Pekar & various artists

DC’s labelling of this new series as the second volume of Harvey Pekar’s journal in comics form is hardly accurate; Pekar’s been at this for decades, and this is far from the second American Splendor comic to boast first-issue status. Regardless, it’s nice to know that Pekar’s well-known, black-and-white remembrances of small, curious moments from his life possibly getting a higher profile in comics shops, given that it’s published by DC now. I’ve not followed Pekar’s comics all that closely over the years, and I wanted to see more. This anthology of rather ordinary experiences struck me as honest and genuine, but I can’t say I was entertained. Pekar certainly doesn’t embellish; he doesn’t spice things up in order to play up humor or drama, or to arrive at a central moral or theme. This reads like a random collection of journal entries adapted to the comics medium, nothing more, nothing less. My reactions to Pekar’s stories (and for some segments, I use that term loosely) ranged from bemusement to boredom. The artwork stands out as the book’s greatest strength. I enjoyed seeing the work of some big names from the world of indie/alternative comics, such as David Lapham and Dean Haspiel. The comic also introduces us to some lesser-known or new names in comic illustration. The visual highlight of the book was the art of Zachary Baldus. His airy, highly detailed artwork captures the era in which the story is set incredibly well. It looks as though graphite is his favored artistic tool, and he manages to achieve a lovely, painted look with it. 6/10

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