03 April 2012

Our Body is Our Own Enemy

Harvey Pekar was a was an American underground comic book writer, music critic and media personality, best known for his autobiographical American Splendor comic series. Our Cancer Year won the 1995 Harvey Award for best original graphic novel. Our cancer story tells the painful and touching tale of his discovery that he has lymphoma and must begin chemotherapy. The news comes as Pekar and his wife, Brabner, are preparing to buy a house. Our Cancer Year is known for its normalcy. Pekar is an everyman through and through. As such, when he battles his disease, he does it in a comically human way. The title of this work is apt, too, because Pekar and his wife experience everything together in this fight against cancer. The comic was written when the Gulf war was taking place, making it very related to readers. War too is an all-too-human affliction, but Pekar was able to find the glorious in even the most mundane traits of mankind. A struggle of a Harvey who is a cancer patient is shown in the first few pages of the comic. He gets up exceptionally early in order to make it for the operation. This on its own shows his desperateness to get cured, so he can work on painting the house and maybe his longing to stay healthy for his wife who he loves dearly.
Harvey and his wife approach cancer in a very genuine way although they freak out at first, only to finding a way to fight it together. They are portrayed in a very humane way, which makes this comic very relatable to the readers. He want to paint his house and do other chores like shifting of homes to keep himself busy, and his mind away from the nagging thought of his illness. This is the best part of the comic as; he is knowingly living his life, not as a threat but by utilizing every second of it.
Comics have been around for very long however, past observations have lead me to map a little success route that famous comics have in common. All comics that have done well in the past as they have something to do with the current situations or crisis’s they were going on. Like, Superman comics depicted him as a hero when World War II was taking place, Americans looked up to him as their savior during those years. Maus is also a good connection as we come across many twists and turns in life and death occurs to all, which again is very relatable altogether. And, Our Cancer Year was written when the Gulf War was taking place, the comic is used as a metaphor for war. Now, comparing it with McClouds perspective is dissimilar as McCloud is a little biased to comic characters being abstract in order to be relatable to the readers. In this comic, the case is different because the characters aren’t all that abstract but Pekar balances this out perfectly by making the text very easy to read and people are able to relate to it.


  1. Righteous Blog Tsering! Not only did you have a great summary and comparison, but you did a fair amount of background research on the artists which made you look more credible.

  2. As always enjoyed reading your blog tsering, great summary, and even better, the comparison between both summaries. Great work :-)

  3. Yes, great blog! Just proofread a little more closely ;-)