I didn't actually discover Harvey Pekar through his comics. Oh, I was aware of them, and even had one or two in my collection, but I only really learned properly about his work by watching a film called Comic Book Confidential, a fantastic documentary featuring the work of Charles Burns, Harvey and Crumb, and Lynda Barry, and others. The comics featured just blew me away; I had never seen anything like them. The show featured Harvey's story about being addicted to blues and stealing sides (records) from a radio station. The drawings from the comic, by Crumb, were inter-cut with Harvey reading the story in his famous raspy-voice. I'm not exaggerating when I say it changed all my ideas about what comics could be. It's on iTunes, here.
When I did finally get my hands on a bunch of Harvey's work, including American Splendor, the scales fell from my eyes; I knew, absolutely knew, that the impression the Comic Book Confidential documentary had made on me was not fleeting, I wanted to create work like this, and what's more, I knew my attempt to do so would fall short, and I knew that falling short of this measure was okay, because this was something special. There are a lot of salutes to Harvey on the web this month, and they are all heartfelt; he meant a lot to everyone involved in cartooning. The comic book world now has an enormous Harvey Pekar-sized hole in it; that hole will never be filled.