I was at San Francisco's Wonder-Con a few years ago, perusing the comics and navigating the crowds, when I noticed Harvey Pekar seated at a nearby table. "Wow," I thought,"Harvey Pekar!" I wasn't a fan of his comics, but I had seen and enjoyed his biopic not long before, and he'd always struck me as an interesting figure: the workaday file clerk who'd made good, earning awards and big time accolades by writing comics in his spare time. Here he was, in the flesh.
The second thing I noticed, though, was that nobody was talking to him. He was just sitting there alone behind his table, staring into space, no fans in sight. The celebrated comics legend who had been writing for decades, who had teamed with Crumb and numerous other notables, who had appeared so often on Letterman, who was portrayed by Paul Giammati in an award-winning film... alone in a crowd of comics fans.
I had always imagined him being ignored at his day job, carting files around at a Cleveland hospital (his own personal Daily Planet), but I assumed his public appearances were a world apart from that dreary existence. I pictured fans lining up to get his autograph on their stacks of graphic novels, babbling nervously about what his work meant to them, asking what the movie biz is like, and did he meet Hope Davis, and what pearls of writing wisdom could he offer? Instead, he sat there unapproached, like the marooned man in those deserted island cartoons. Meanwhile, the happy throngs hurried to get their pictures taken with Stormtroopers.