Blog Response— American Splendor


  1. Analysis of the Book

Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor is a comic book series based on Pekar’s life in Cleveland, Ohio. While most comic books are aimed towards a younger audience, American Splendor intended audience are adults. One of the major themes of the comics is realism, driving from Pekar’s own life experiences in Cleveland. It is the story lines of the everyday life that separates American Splendor from other comic book series.

  1. Analysis of the Film

The film version, American Splendor, was co-directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, dramatizes the life of Harvey Pekar both in the comics and real life. One of the unique aspects of the film is the decision to use the real Harvey Pekar in the film as well as Paul Giamatti playing Harvey Pekar. The multiple versions of Pekar (himself, the actor, and comic book version) show how Berman and Pulcini used the “film-within-a-film” aspect in the film. Similar to the comic’s theme, realism also stands out in the film by the use of the multiple versions of Pekar. The film follows how Pekar became a comics writer and the struggles he endured throughout his life.

  1. Analysis of the Adaptation

The concept of realism used in the film version of American Splendor shows how Berman and Pulcini remained faithful to the comic book series. The mix of reality (the real Harvey Pekar and the actor playing him) and animation (the comic book versions of Pekar) presents how the directors used realism throughout the film. The directors stayed faithful to the comic book series by basing the movie on Pekar’s life experiences, but also showing the behind-the-scenes experiences that Pekar had during filming.

  1. Online Research on the Film

This article addresses the representation of Harvey Pekar in the film and how the film does not follow the traditional “Hollywood” direction.

This article compares how American Splendor adapted into film with less complexity than other film adaptations such as Jonze’s Adaptation.

In this article, the writer addresses the treatment of postmodernism and trauma throughout the film. The film shows how unique life can be as well as how painful it can become. The writer argues that Berman and Pulcini’s adaptation of American Splendor challenges the representation of life experiences, but still tried to remain faithful to the comic’s representation of life. It was their attempt on documenting real life experience by using the real Harvey Pekar and an actor portraying him.

  1. Critical Argument Paragraph

While American Splendor is based off a comic book series, and making the film completely animated might have been easier, the fact that it is mixed between real life and animation makes a unique adaptation. If the film was only animated, the directors and producers could have only used Harvey Pekar to voice the character, but the film would lose some of the sense of realism that is found in the comic books. Similar to the comic book series, the film uses Pekar’s life experience whether good or bad they may seem. Not only does the film present how Pekar became a comic book writer, it shows Pekar’s response to the idea of having a film about him. The film plays on the themes of the comic book series by making it a mix of real life and animated experiences. If the film was entirely animated, it would have lost the behind-the-scene perspective that shows the real Harvey Pekar’s experience throughout the film. It is the mix of real life and animation that makes the film unique and better portray the themes of the comic book series.


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