I have to admit, amid all of the excitement of San Diego Comic-Con last week, my mind was elsewhere. I am one of those who doesn’t like the direction Comic-Con is driving at—more celebrities, more glitz, and less comics. I can’t lie, though, I didn’t grow up a comics kid. Besides the daily stuff like Garfield and Peanuts and the occasional Archie book, I spent most of my childhood engrossed in books.
That week of Comic-Con I thought about a different cartoonist whose representation at the event was probably minimal: Harvey Pekar. He famously collaborated with R. Crumb and other artists on his autobiographical American Splendor series. He passed this past July. If there is one comic book hero I can identify with, it’s the ever curmudgeonly Clevelander, Harvey. It is his awkwardness, wry insight, and honesty that I care about in literature. The Harvey who tellingly writes about his experience with cancer in Our Cancer Year is more meaningful to me than the superhero who “saves” a bus full of imaginary people.
I guess growing up in the age of CGI and the comic book movie, I’m desensitized to the special effects. Those much rarer effects, like real emotion and empathy, are edged out, stuck in the sideshow, or worse, some stupid subplot.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the comic book format and recently I’ve been getting into the graphic novel heavily: check out this post. But I have no crush for the superhero. I appreciate real heroes, the kind who spend their lives engaged in the work of daily life, however seemingly insignificant. Those who write out the details, who can craft the careful nuance of a story, they are my superheroes.
I guess that makes special effects my kryptonite.
I know my views are probably rare, so I would love to hear from everyone in the comments what their take is.