By Brian and Margot Hieggelke
Harvey Pekar is tenacious. Here’s a guy from Cleveland who stuck with a government job as a file clerk for decades, even as his extracurricular activities were making him famous, or at least semi-famous, with frequent appearances on David Letterman’s show and, eventually, an award-winning movie being made about his life and work. Harvey Pekar is persistent. He gave up wives faster than comic books, toiling away with meager financial returns for decades in order to self-publish his “everyman” comic book, American Splendor. And, apparently, Harvey Pekar is a quitter, based on the revelations in his recently published recounting of his formative years, “The Quitter,” his first hardcover, published by DC Comics imprint Vertigo, with illustration by Dean Haspiel. It’s a fine twist on the dysfunctional coming-of-age story, wherein the protagonist here is the creator of, rather than victim of, the dysfunction. With the rest of his life thoroughly documented through thirty years of American Splendor, “The Quitter” has the air of a swan song, so we took the occasion to discuss the state of things with Harvey Pekar.
How did “The Quitter” come about?
Well, the way it came about was that Dean Haspiel, the guy who illustrated it, had hooked me up with the guy who made the “American Splendor” movie. He’d made the connection. That worked out real well for me. So I went back to him and I said, “Dean, what can I do to pay you back?” So he said, “I’d like to illustrate a long story of yours.” I didn’t have any long stories lying around, so I had to do something long narrative. Usually, my narratives had been about relatively short periods of time, but I hadn’t dealt with my early life much, so I decided to do a long piece on that and meantime, Dean contacted DC Comics, who he’d worked with before, and they were interested in my doing something.
When you were young, did you keep a journal? Or how did you go about unearthing some of the memories in this book?
I just remembered them. This stuff was very important to me; it’s talking about stuff that had a huge influence on me and I wanted to sort of explain how I got to be the person I’m portrayed to be in the movie. It’s kind of a prequel to the movie.
Do you think someone can really appreciate the book itself without knowing your work at all? Or do you feel like it really has to be read in context?
No, why should they have to know me? I mean, have to know what came later? As it was, I talked about what happened to me after I got into all this trouble. I talked about how my life settled down, and stuff like that. And how I stayed on the same job for a long time, and I stuck with the comic books, I got married and, stuff like that. That’s the same information that was in the movie. So I carried it out again, only this time, I mentioned that I was at the end of my life. Even though things are starting to look good, I don’t feel maybe as good about them as most people would in my shoes. And that’s probably because I’ve been a pessimist for so long, and obsessive-compulsive for so long.
The book offers a much deeper understanding of how this character that you have revealed through your work over the years got to be the way you were, but there were some things that are surprising. One is how athletic you were as a young man, and the other is how close you came to having a more conventional successful life story—going to college, etc. Were there other aspects of your personality that you were revealing for the first time in this book?
When I wrote about my early life, I wanted to point out the influence of my parents and the neighborhoods I lived in and how they affected me in later life. And the fact that I could never really hit it off with my parents. I mean, they were fine people, but they came from a different part of the world than I did, and we had much different values, and it seemed like nothing I did would impress them. The first neighborhood I lived in was a black neighborhood—I was the only white kid in the neighborhood and I was like an outcast there, so when I was a little kid, it was real hard to get approval from anybody. So those were things that I wanted to point out happened to me, and what the consequences of those things were. How they eventually left me feeling so insecure that I would quit just about anything I started to do—not even bad, but fair—in! I had to do great in everything or I would flip out. That was the main narrative line, talking about that, and I wanted to point out sometimes, when a kid is brought up by parents of a different culture, it’s not always all that rosy.
Your work has always been so self-conscious about your emotional state when you’re doing things. Did you experience a flow of emotions as you worked on this? Are you content in understanding who you are or are you rueful?
Well, I don’t feel real happy about it, but what can you do? I mean, what happened to me, it happens to a lot of people. One guy, when he was reviewing the book, noted a comment I made at the end of the book that I was getting by, but I wasn’t doing as well as most people might think what with this movie and everything like that and I was still feeling real insecure. Actually, I have reason to feel insecure, valid reasons, but most people would be just intoxicated for ten years because they got a movie made about them. So I mentioned that and this guy said one of the main points of the book was that the best thing some people can do all their life is just get by. I mean, you just get crippled, you know? I’m not asking anybody to feel sorry for me or anything like that. It’s just that that people, they get hung up, they get screwed up, and they never recover. And that’s what happened to me. I’m still worrying about everything, hoping that the next write-up of the book will be nice, and my next book will get good reviews and all that, and I suppose that if that all worked out I’d probably start worrying about something else. When I wake up in the morning, I just run down a list in my mind: what do I got to worry about today. Like, in other words, what do I got to take care of. Someone described me as being kind of vigilant. I suppose I’m hyper-vigilant. It’s like I’m always looking around, trying to find out what’s gonna go wrong, or stuff like that. I’m always worried something’s gonna collapse.
How’s your experience been with DC Comics on the book? Wasn’t it kind of ironic that you ended up with one of the great publishers of superhero books?
Yeah, it was kind of ironic, and it’s been commented on that I’m still going around badmouthing superheroes. But they’re fine; I mean, they were really fine. First of all, it was the Vertigo line, which is supposed to be a somewhat better, higher-class brand of book than the normal DC book. My editor is not one of these comic-book geeks. I mean he’s a pretty well-educated guy and he reads other literature besides comic books, as I do—not that there aren’t some great comic books out there, but some of these people that read superhero comics, that’s all they know. And they’ve treated me real nice. The publicity guy did a phenomenal job for me, just great. I’ve been treated better by this publisher than by any publisher I’ve worked with, I can say that.
One of the central themes of your work has always been to document this normal, working-class life. Do you have a working-class audience at all?
Well, I don’t think the people that like my work the most are superhero comic-book readers because it took getting out of the comic-book stores for my stuff to start selling. It took that plus the publicity of the movie. I mean, none of my stuff sold very well, it was like I didn’t have any kind of readers to speak of, to tell you the truth, just a few thousand people a year would buy my stuff. And I think it would be pretty hard to characterize them. But when the movie came out, they published a companion book that contained my first two Doubleday anthologies that I had published in ’86 and ’87, and they sold real well. Because people could find them. Before, even if I got publicity, like I got on Letterman, nobody knew where to find the books! Not many people carried them—well, you know, underground comics were poorly distributed. Always have been.
You’re coming up on thirty years of putting out American Splendor, right? Next year?
Yeah, it’ll be thirty years. I started writing comic-book stories and getting them published in 1972, and in ’76 I put out American Splendor.
Once you decided what American Splendor was going to be about, did that constrain your life from that point on? In terms of career, did that sort of keep you doing things?
You mean, did it keep me staying on the job, staying on that same job?
Staying on the job, staying in Cleveland, and so on. Did your comic-book work then affect how you lived your life?
No. Because what stabilized my life was getting this civil-service job and holding onto it for dear life. There weren’t too many jobs I could hold onto without freaking out. I’d get worried about them or something like that. This was a job that paid me enough to live on, that, at one point when I first got it, I lived close enough that I could walk to work, the people were nice, I had good fringe benefits, like health benefits and stuff like that. It was easy work, so I didn’t have to go home and worry about making a mistake or something like that. It was like my dream job—I had given up any big ambitions of quote, amounting to anything, unquote. I just wanted to get by, and I had worked out a kind of two-career life to do it. On the one level I was making money working for the hospital and that allowed me to do the comic books and do my writing. Stabilized my life, and so it worked out okay for me. I mean, a lot of people have done way worse than me, I’ll tell you the truth.
Are you familiar with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?
Well, it’s a physics theorem that has something to do with quantum mechanics, but the relevant idea is that you can never purely observe anything in science, because the act of observation actually affects that which is being observed. Have you ever thought, especially as you’ve gotten more famous, that that which you’re trying to observe—your life—is being changed by the very fact that you’re observing it?
Well not really, because if you wanna talk about the fame factor, that has little, very little impact on my life. I mean, I know that I’m more well-known now than I used to be, but it hasn’t impacted on my life because, on a day-to-day basis, I have very little evidence of it. People aren’t constantly calling me on the phone. They do call me more, as witnessed by your call, but people aren’t constantly calling me on the phone, or writing me, or anything like that. My name’s in the phone book, but I don’t get calls from fans saying I love your book, or something like that. Every once in a while they’ll show the movie on HBO and some guy will call up and tell me that they love it, but that’s very infrequent. My day-to-day life has stayed the same. I’ve made more money in the last few years, but I’ve put that away for my kid for school. And my standard of living hasn’t—well, it hasn’t had to improve—but it hasn’t improved. In other words, all I want is just enough to get by, some food, so I can pay my utility bills, stuff like that. That’s all I need.
But do you ever fear that people are acting a certain way around you because they’re conscious of the fact that they may be living part of a story? Your stories are often about very mundane things, so it means anything, any action or interaction with you could be part of a story. This conversation could become part of a story.
Yeah, it could.
Right? So that’s the question, did you ever sort of feel, at times, that you needed to say “cut, cut”?
No, no, no, it never got to be that big a deal. First of all, right now I don’t have very many social contacts at all. When I quit work, unfortunately, that was a bulk of my social life. When I was there, I really wasn’t considered any big deal. I was considered kind of like an oddity. I mean people liked me okay, but it wasn’t like I was considered some kind of a big man or anything. I was just considered “Oh yeah, there’s Harvey, he writes comics. That’s pretty unusual.”
Do you wake up every day expecting that you’re going to get a story that day? Do you have a bunch of stories already done?
Recently I haven’t been putting out American Splendor, which is the vehicle I used to put out most of my stories. And most of the stories are written like practically right on the spot or a few days afterward or something. So for a while I’ve had these large projects I’ve been working on. And I hadn’t been writing short stories—a few, I’ve written a few—but I started writing them again, and I’ve got a stockpile now, and DC’s gonna revive American Splendor, so I’m gonna start putting that out again, and that’ll have a lot of the kind of stories that I used to write.
Are they gonna do it as a comic book?
Yeah. It’s gonna come out four times a year as a comic. That’s the plan. I don’t know, maybe if it doesn’t sell good the first time, maybe they’ll drop it, I don’t know, but…see, that’s the way I think. But the plan, if everything’s ideal, it’ll come out four times a year as a comic book, and then—there’s 32 pages in the comic book, so that’d be 128 pages a year—those 128 pages will be collected in a so-called graphic novel, a 128-page square-bound book.
On a typical day, when do you decide, I’ve got a story—today is a story day?
There are a lot of factors in it that aren’t on the surface for me. I sort of go through my day and weigh my experiences, because now I’m gonna have to be coming up with a lot more short stories than I did in the past, when I just published one sixty-page book a year. And, I sort of weigh my experiences and I think, can I shape that into something, can I structure it into something? But don’t ask me exactly what criteria I use. I must use some, because there are some stories I feel like I can get a handle on, and there are some stories that I reject the ideas for one reason or another. But I find that if I wanna write more stories, that what I gotta do is keep my eyes open, and just examine stuff that happens to me. Like, even today for example, I’ll tell ya, now I may never write a story about this, but okay, today I had an experience that I could, I think, turn into a pretty good story. See it involved this diner down at the end of the street from me. It’s got this kind of weird history. There’s this guy that has a store, like an old toy store and it was his ambition to bring this diner, an old-fashioned diner, into Cleveland, into my neighborhood. And he thought it would be a roaring success or something. So he went out, and he borrowed all this money, and he went out on this big limb, and he got these diners, he got two of them, delivered from out of state. And then he put a passageway in between them and he wound up, man, losing his shirt. And owing the city, like, I don’t know. He got the city to back him and he owed them tons of money. And so the diners, I thought they went under and they’re gonna stay under, because I thought they were in a lousy location. Nobody, like nobody was doing business over there. Well there was one supermarket that was doing good business, but nobody else was there. Failing businesses depress me. I think about my old man. I worked in his grocery store. It was such a marginal thing, he had it for so long, and he worked so many hours and just eked by, and so I think about that when I see these small businesses that open up and then they shut down. But anyway, somebody else took over these diners after this guy left, and it’s just down at the end of my street, and I would go down there, and I wouldn’t see any cars in the lot, or anything like that, and I thought, oh jeez, didn’t these guys know enough to stay away from this spot? So it’s still open, I don’t know how much longer these guys are gonna be able to keep going with the lousy business they’re doing, at least, from what I can see is just really bad and my wife wanted to go get something to eat, and I had asked somebody about what the food was like, and that guy had badmouthed the food. So she wanted to go into this place. So I go to the place and I see it’s this real well-run place. And the food is really good, it’s reasonably priced. It’s just that I’m really surprised, that by my standards, this is a pretty nicely run business, run by people that know what the hell they’re doing! The food was better than the food that the first guy had. And they got a big, varied menu, they got ten million dishes, and they got nobody in there eating nothing! It’s like it’s a wasteland. That kind of bummed me out. It made me feel like, god, here’s these guys and they got this diner and they’re really working hard to make it a success, and they’re just in the wrong spot, and it’s not gonna work out for them, and they’re gonna haveta close up and…it’s not gonna work out like nothing in Cleveland doesn’t work out anymore. I mean nothing in Cleveland works out anymore. I mean, it’s just like every fucking thing in Cleveland, man, just gets fucked up. The sports teams—they haven’t won a championship in anything in probably longer than any major league city. Then take the basketball team. Like, they had LeBron James and they thought, well, if they could just get a couple other guys, they’d really be in great shape. So they go out and they get the guys they’re looking for, they get a guy named Hughes to play guard—last year he scored 22 points a game, and he’s supposed to be the best defensive guard in the league, so they get him, and then they say they need outside shooting, so they get these two guys that are high-percentage three-point shooters, so that opens up the inside, then they re-sign their center, Ilgauskas, and that was gonna be a big problem for them if he had gone to another team. And they start off the year, like, they were one and two, or something like that, and then they won eight straight games or something like that, but they were playing at home! And now, they’re the best at being the same team, they’re like 11 and 8 or something like that, or 11 and 7 or something, and it just seems like you could do anything, you could get the other four best players in the league, and put them with LeBron James, and it’d still be a fuckin’ .500 ball club! That’s fuckin’ Cleveland, man! That’s the way it’s been! I swear, man. Some cities, they’ve got maybe one team and one sport that does lousy, but if they’ve got three, four teams, at least one of them, once in a while wins something. Cleveland hasn’t won anything since 1964. Anything.
They’ve made it to the World Series a couple of times.
Yeah, that’s worse. That’s worse, when you fucking lose the World Series. Especially the second time. Wow, Jesus, that was bad. And, well, I don’t know if anything would be worse than the one—I’m an old guy—in ’54. They won 111 ballgames, man, and broke the American League record that was held by the 1927 New York Yankees. You know, with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, one of the great teams of all time, y’know, legendary? They broke that record, and then they go out and lose four fucking straight in the World Series. There’s a famous tape that they show, you may have seen it, the play that people generally think broke the Indians’ back. It’s of Willie Mays running, like the guy hits a ball like dead centerfield, only its 505 feet in the Polo Grounds to the fence. So this guy hits a 460-foot drive to dead center, Willie Mays whirls, catches it over his shoulder, and then spins around and throws, and his hat falls off his head. Y’see that?
Oh yeah, I’ve seen that one.
Well, that’s the catch that spiked the rally, and then they went on to lose four straight. They were about to take control of that game, and then boom!
How do you choose the artists for American Splendor? Are there certain characteristics you’re looking for in their work? A lot of it is very realistic.
Even before I started doing comics, I noticed there was hardly any realistic work in comics. I thought, that’s ridiculous! Why should comics be so limited? There’s no realism in comics, that’s crazy! So I said, I’m gonna fuckin’ put realism in comics. So I looked for guys—I mean, I’ve worked with guys with cartoony styles too, but I like it if a guy can draw realistically. ‘ Cause my stories are realistic and it works out better that way. At least guys that maybe have a style that’s not a cartoony style, or idealizing people on the other hand. That’s sort of like the opposite of cartoony, I guess, with the “make everything look like Mr. America, or Miss America,” or something. In the beginning, I was very lucky that I knew Robert Crumb. I’ve known him since 1962 when he came to Cleveland from Philadelphia, when he was 19 years old. And when I got interested in doing comics, he was already famous! And this was in ’72. He’d take these trips across the country. Every summer he’d go, and he’d see his old friends in all these different cities he lived in. So he’s staying with me, and I had all these ideas for doing this new kind of comic book, autobiographical about mundane stuff, realistic. And I showed them to Crumb. I said, “Crumb, I wrote some stories out, in a storyboard style. Y’know, with stick figures?” And I says, “Crumb, look at these things, tell me if they’re viable.” So he looked at them, and he says, “Harvey, I like these things, can I take them home and illustrate them?” Man, like…it was fantastic. Here was one of the greatest cartoonists in the world, and he’s willing to illustrate my stories, giving me instant legitimacy. That was amazing. But when Crumb illustrates my stories, I don’t know if you notice, but he uses a more realistic style than he does when he illustrates, especially the later stuff, than he does his own stuff sometimes. Although he did a story about Jelly Roll Morton that was wonderful that was real realistic. So he can do that if he wants to, it just depends on what he feels like doing. But I would meet guys, like in Cleveland who were artists, and Crumb recruited a couple guys to do work for me, he showed them my stories and they liked them. And so I got three or four guys working. And then when I got the comic book out, there were guys looking around to illustrate my work. It was always tough for underground comic-book artists to get their stuff published, and I was publishing my own comic book, so guys would contact me, or sometimes I would see somebody in town, and, see their work and like it, like somebody who would maybe be going to the Art Institute here, or something and they’re looking around to do some stuff on the side. So that’s the way that I met these artists. Now I know quite a few of them and it’s a problem to keep them supplied with stuff to do. ‘Cause I like them a lot, a lot of them are real good artists too, and I like to maintain a relationship with them.
With DC putting out the book, will you still control all the artists and everything the same way?
Yeah. Yeah, that’s the way it’ll work. In fact, Dean Haspiel, who illustrated this book, “The Quitter,” for me—we had done some work before together—and I said, “look, this is going to be way more grim than the stuff we’ve worked on in the past, I think, it would call for a style change.” So he said, “yeah, maybe you’re right.” And he thinks about it and he comes up with something, and it worked out great. It was fantastic. I mean, he’s gotten so goddamn much praise for his work in this book, it’s incredible. A lot of times when people would review my work, they wouldn’t even talk about the artist. But now, Dean gets mentioned all the time. And I’m really happy for him. I thought he did a great job.
How do you actually work with the artist? From the movie and from some of your comics, we know that you do the stick-figure sketches and kind of storyboard them. Is that it? Do you collaborate in process, or do you pretty much do a script, storyboard and then just step aside and let them finish it?
I do the storyboard, I send it to them, I go over it with them panel-by-panel to make sure they can read my handwriting and they know what’s supposed to be in the panel and then they’ll send me roughs as they’re doing it, so I make sure that there hasn’t been any miscommunication. At this point, I’m working just with guys that I’m not taking chances on. The guys that I work with are all good, in my opinion. But I still want to make sure we don’t miscommunicate or something like that, so we keep in constant contact, and I talk to them on the phone about the stories, and what I want to get out of them, the points I’m trying to make, stuff like that. So there’s not only this written script, but we talk it over quite a bit.
When you’ve got a drawer full of stories and you’ve got all these artists you want to work with, do you try to match a story to the artist, stylistically?
Yeah, sure, yeah. I got an idea what I’d like it to look like, and not all the guys I know are going to be available all the time to do all the stories I want. So, that sort of limits it, like if a guy’s got another job or something like that and they can’t do it. But yeah, I try and match them up and the more humorous stories maybe I give some guys, and the grimmer ones I give to others.
Do you have certain writers, either in comics, or in literature, or in film, or whatever who have influenced your work, and are those newer influences, or have they always been there?
Well, I was doing a lot of reading before I started doing comic-book stories. I started doing comic-book stories when I was 32 years old. That’s kind of old to start a career in comics. So I have to sort of look back on it and think about the literary influences I had. And I think that the main influences I had were prose fiction writers. Henry Miller influenced my work a lot. I don’t know if his stuff was fiction or not. I like the autobiography, the immediacy of his work. I thought he was kind of a bullshitter, too. In terms of realism, and writing, you know, in vernacular stuff, there’s a great Chicago writer, turn-of-the-century writer—
No, no, no, no. This guy is supposed to have not only influenced Dreiser, but been plagiarized by Dreiser. But he’s forgotten about today. His name’s George Ade. A D E. He’s really good. You know who turned me onto him? You remember a guy, he was from Chicago, and then he went on to make a big career, did well in radio in New York, Jean Shepherd?
You never heard of him either, huh? Well, anyway, actually, he came from like the Indiana side, like Hammond or something. Anyway, George Ade, he wrote these real, real realistic stories about everyday life. And I loved them. You know, I used to eat them up. And the guy was popular for about twenty years, and he made a hell of a lot of money. But after a while, I don’t know, people started to take him for granted. But he’d made his pile anyway, so nobody was feeling sorry for him.
Were you reading his work before you started your comic book?
Yeah, I was reading George Ade starting about 1960, and it was due to an article by this guy Jean Shepherd. And, there’s a guy named Daniel Fuchs that influenced me a lot. He actually was a fine writer but he wrote pretty really good novels in the thirties and then he went out to Hollywood and just spent the rest of his life as a film writer. He wrote some pretty good things after that, prose things, but he was pretty much into it for the money after that, and wasn’t too concerned about writing great works of art. Henry Roth, the guy who wrote “Call It Sleep.” I don’t know if you heard of him, but he was—
He’s the one who never wrote again, right?
Yeah, well, at the end of his life he did write some stuff. He started writing some autobiographical stuff. And his sister sued him for what he said about her. So, Henry Roth, he was a communist and he was always being chased around the country by the FBI, and he went into, I guess his main career was like a farmer of geese and ducks or something like that. Not chickens.
How do you feel about reviews of the book so far?
Well, the reviews have been tremendous. I mean, I’ve gotten eighty or ninety reviews or something, and all but about five of them have been favorable.
Do the bad ones bug you?
Yeah, they bug me, but especially a couple were written that were kind of malicious. Especially, there was one from the New Yorker that was really—this is really funny. I don’t know exactly what the hell happened at the New Yorker, but some guy wrote a piece on graphic novels? In the New Yorker? And he shit on everybody. Just shit on everybody. So, and he called me—the New Yorker’s a pretty polite magazine, most of the time. This guy, man, he was fucking nasty. It was kind of funny to see it in the New Yorker. He called me, the unintentional inventor of comic minimalism. That’s like, even if I did something right, it had to be accidental, or something like that. So I guess the thing probably made a lot of people mad. I’m assuming, because about a month later, they published another review by somebody else that was favorable about the book. This time it was in a column called Briefly Noted. But this time it was almost like we’re evening up the score here. To find these reviews, I go to up to the public library, ‘cause I can’t use a computer myself, I’m a fuckup with machines. And my wife won’t help me. So, I go to the library, and these people at the library are sympathetic to me. And they look on Google for the latest reviews. So when the second New Yorker thing came out—if you look on Google, it’ll cite the review and where it’s published and stuff. And then they’ll maybe give you part of the first sentence of the review or something like that. Well in this one, this makeup review, which was a good review of the book, they said something like, ‘Harvey Pekar is praised!’ You know what I mean; it was weird! It was like, normally they don’t just get this man, hey! Get this man, this guy’s been praised by us! Or something like that, it was really weird. I think you gotta agree that it’s pretty damn strange for a magazine like the New Yorker to review the same book twice within about two months. If I’m talking too much about it, you really start to wonder about me. Maybe you are already, but it was a funny thing.
So what are Joyce and Danielle up to these days, for people that have been following your career?
Well, I’ll tell ya. Danielle is finishing up high school. She didn’t like the local high school so she’s taking correspondence courses at the University of Indiana. And Joyce is working on this—it’s kind of hard to describe—project. We met some people in New York that had written a kind of a play, and the guy said it was influenced by me, by this book that Joyce and me wrote called “Our Cancer Year.” This guy had Crohn’s Disease, and so he made that the subject of the piece. But he used robotics in it. So he was like, he was in robots and just all kinds of unusual stuff in it. And so we went and we met him in New York. And my wife got real interested in their project. So now, she’s trying to help him complete it and get it staged in Cleveland here. ‘Cause they got some kind of a far-out-play festival or something like that that they have here.
You’ve got the American Splendor coming out from DC, any other projects in the works?
Yeah, I gotta do a couple books for Random House, one of which is coming out in April, another one maybe coming out six months after that. I’m editing this book by Houghton Mifflin. Since 1915, they’ve been putting out this series called “The Best American Short Stories.” So, and then they expanded, they’re doing the best American sports stories of the year, and then they started doing other best American this story, and that story of the year, so now they’re starting up this thing, best American graphic narratives of the year. So they wanted me to be like a editor of the first one. And I’m working with someone from Chicago, her name’s Anne Moore. She’s real nice. So we’re sort of dividing up the work on the thing. Choosing the best stories, and I’m writing the introduction and stuff like that. And then I’m working on writing an introduction for a Plastic Man book. Plastic Man was this real good kind of a satire on superheroes.
Right, kind of surreal almost.
Yeah, yeah, actually it was. Anyway, that was one comic book that I read when I was a kid that I read now, and I think it still holds up pretty good. They’re putting out a collected Plastic Man from DC, so this guy asked me to write an introduction for that, so I’m doing that and I’m just trying to hustle gigs and trying to keep busy. I need to make extra money to supplement my social security and my pension that I’m getting. And so I’m pretty active about looking out for writing jobs, and I still write some jazz criticism for a paper called the Austin Chronicle. In fact I just had a book review in there last week. Well, I just got it this week, it probably came out two, three weeks ago. So, you know, those are some of the things that I’m doing. And I’ve got this American Splendor project, like I say, I’m starting that up, so I’m writing stories for that. Those are, I guess, some of the main things I’m doing.