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Comic Proportions 

American Splendor No. 1

Published by Vertigo (DC Comics). Written by Harvey Pekar. Art by Various. 

The Deal: Harvey Pekar's award-winning and groundbreaking autobiographical comic book series American Splendor is back -- and it's being brought to you by a brand-new publisher. Non-comic fans may be familiar with American Splendor because of the hit film of the same name that was made about Pekar and his comic a few years ago. This current series, however, takes place a few years after the film's debut and shows what Pekar and his family have been up to lately.

The Good: I just love American Splendor. I read the book in the 1980s as a teenager, and I used to watch Pekar when he made his now-legendary appearances on Late Night With David Letterman around that time. Pekar's work always tripped me out because it was so mundane that it was engrossing. I guess, in a way, his comic was one of the first "reality shows" -- although he's a lot more interesting (and a lot uglier) than Kim Kardashian. Recently, I re-read Pekar's graphic novel Our Movie Year, and I thought it was one of his most personal -- and often troubling -- works. All that said, it's good to see new American Splendor comics on the stands. The writing is still personal, and the tales are still mundane as hell. But this time around he's joined by a crop of artists -- like Chris Weston and David Lapham -- who've never drawn for the series before. The art by the new guys seems to interject some new life into Pekar's standard Splendor stories -- not that the comic needed any "new life," but it doesn't hurt.

The Bad: I'm upset that this is listed as a limited series. But I should take solace in the fact that there's probably more of these to come as long as Pekar is willing and able to write them.

The Verdict: It's the American Splendor you know and love with art by guys new to the Splendor game. I love it and so should you.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find:

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