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Writer Harvey Pekar comes to Novello Festival

Three books to check out before you meet him

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I've been a fan of writer Harvey Pekar and his comic book series American Splendor since I was in high school. I first discovered him from an appearance on David Letterman and fell in love with his mundane, often-depressing autobiographical tales of life in Cleveland. Consequently, I about sharted in my pants when I heard that Pekar -- who was also the subject of the award-winning film American Splendor -- was scheduled to visit Charlotte this week (Oct. 17) as part of the annual Novello Festival. And the news of Pekar's impending visit got me thinking about some of my favorite comics written by this award-winning creator:

Our Cancer Year -- As the title implies, this graphic novel is about cancer ... specifically it's about Pekar's personal battle with the disease. Co-written by his wife Joyce Brabner, Our Cancer Year is a frank tale that shows all the scary and ugly things people experience when facing cancer.

Our Movie Year -- This one sports a pretty descriptive title, too. The comic chronicles what happened during and directly after the making of the American Splendor movie. You'd think that making a movie would vastly change Pekar's outlook on life, but ... er ... it didn't. In fact, Our Movie Year -- almost more than any of his other books -- sheds a whole new light on what makes Pekar tick.

Ego & Hubris -- Unlike most of his other works, Ego & Hubris doesn't focus on Pekar. Instead, Pekar uses this book to delve into the real life of a complicated, and sometimes nasty, friend of his named Michael Malice.

My advice? Pick up all three books, and then go over and meet the man himself. On Oct. 17, he'll join comic creator Alison Bechdel (Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic) at Novello for an event called "Titans of the Graphic Novel." For more information about his Novello appearance, visit http://www.plcmc.org/novello. But a few hours before heading over to Novello, Pekar and Bechdel will take part in a book signing at the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find comic book shop. For all the details, visit www.heroesonline.com.

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