Thursday, March 24, 2011

Robert Crumb

This scene of Haight-Ashbury where Robert and Dana famously sold comix (ZAP) out of a
baby carriage is going to be re-printed in T.A.P. #1.

When he turned eighteen, Crumb left home and moved to Cleveland, where he shared an apartment in Cleveland with Marty Phals. He got a job at American Greeting cards and married his first real girlfriend. Crumb was soon feeling trapped in both his job and his marriage. He began taking LSD "as a sort of substitute for committing suicide." It did not bring Crumb freedom, but it might have contributed to his fame. Crumb had a "fuzzy" acid experience in November of 1965 and the aftereffects left him not only "crazy and helpless for six months," but also obsessively productive. By early 1966 he filled sketchbooks with drawings of what would become his most famous characters - Mr. Natural, Devil Girl, Angelfood McSpade, Eggs Ackley, and even the keep on truckin' guys.
January 1967, with just the clothes on his back and not even leaving a note for wife Dana, Crumb "set out for the new mecca" of San Francisco with a couple of acquaintances. Crumb was drawn to the sense of total freedom that emanated from Haight-Ashbury, and he was fascinated by the hippie subculture, but he never felt comfortable around the flower children. In his long sleeve dress shirts and occasional jacket and hat, he was self conscious about how different he looked and even imagined they suspected him of being a narc, but he was not willing to "embrace that scene." Even though he would sometimes refer to the Haight-Ashbury crowd as "my people," he was painfully aware of being an outsider. Crumb describes himself as a painfully shy weirdo during that period. He seldom spoke around people he had not known for a while. Second wife, Aline, says "the only voice he had was his pen."

"Robert began his book publishing career with a wonderfully romantic full-color illustrated novel entitled the ‘
Yum Yum Book’."

Before much time had passed Robert’s libido was freed to such an extent that he immersed himself further into his sexual fantasies, which had been tremendously influenced (and corrupted) by his early years of oppressive Catholic upbringing. Much of his later comix work clearly could be considered anti-female in the extreme. Yet there is no doubt that he is a gifted artist and immensely productive to this day.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jazz Opera "Leave Me Alone" by Dan Plonsey & Harvey Pekar

Poster illustrated by Pekar Project artist Joseph Remnant. He's also illustrating the Cleveland
graphic novel, One of Harvey's last works in book form. Dig his neo-crumbesque style.

Harvey wrote the Libretto for this performance held at Oberlin College January 2009.
I thought the set design, songs, music and lighting were superb in capturing Pekar's
essence. From what I've known of him and coming over to his house, that's all he had was a
sofa in the middle of his living room in front of a fireplace joined with a coffee table loaded with books and papers. He even had a trash can in the middle of the room for all of the fan mail envelopes he needed to throw away. Various bookshelves and built-ins of more books and records with random unframed posters and art dotted on the stark white walls. It felt more like a bohemian bachelor's pad than a living room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"No Reservations" Written by Harvey Pekar Illustrated by Tara Seibel

This story was published on but has been removed for some unknown reason. It's totally bogus, but NO WORRIES! We hope you enjoy it here at The Alternative Project
{T.A.P. Comix}

Rock CityTerminally Ill comic story is also getting published in an underground mini comic
{T.A.P. Comix#1}
. Along with the limited edition Rock CityTerminally Ill Comic mini Harvey and I put together in 2009. A paypal is being set up for future purchase.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lake View Cemetery

(Ironically, where Harvey Pekar will be buried and the first comic I wrote.)
From "Word has reached us that while a formal memorial service will be announced at a future date, Harvey Pekar will be buried at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, in a place of honor next to the grave of Eliot Ness, the famed FBI agent, and another proud son of Cleveland. When Harvey’s future wife, Joyce Brabner, was introduced as a character in the book, she was seen in Lakeview Cemetery.

Crumb's Genesis

Jewish Review of Books
*{Robert Crumb gave this comic a thumbs up}

Manifest Equality "We believe in Full & Equal Rights for all Americans with no exceptions."

Meet the Artist : Harvey Pekar :
Why have you chosen to participate in Manifest Equality?
When I heard about this exhibit from my Pekar Project editor Jeff Newelt, I knew right away I wanted to capture my experience of the moment of March 4th, 1970 as a large scale painting, not a comic. It's called "American Splendor: Kent State Shootings Demonstration" and Tara Seibel did a terrific job capturing my memory.
Describe a bit about your submission to the gallery or the creative process you are putting into it.
In 1970, I was working near Case Western Reserve University when the Kent State shootings happened. My bosses were liberal with me, and I had some break time, so I went out to join in the demonstration at Case Western. I went out and there were mobs of people, and they were marching and chanting "Join us! Join us!" So I joined them. i never forgot that and this painting is a perfect way to remember that moment.
What else do you want to manifest?
I don't know what kind of power I have to influence, but through my writing I'd like to bring the world a little closer to peace and equality.
:: You can read Harvey's newest autobiographical comics on the Pekar Project at SMITH Magazine. You can watch Paul Giamatti play Harvey and Harvey play himself in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film version of his life and work: American Splendor. ::

Meet the Artist: Tara Seibel :
Why have you chosen to participate in Manifest Equality?
The spirit and art created during the Manifest Hope Campaign was drop-dead gorgeous. I'm thrilled to be a part of this on-going quest to bring hope, new possibilities and change to our country through artistic and collaborative endeavors.
Describe a bit about your submission to the gallery or the creative process you are putting into it?
Harvey Pekar and I are working on a piece entitled "American Splendor: Kent State Shootings Demonstration." It's an original large scale painting based on a memory of Harvey's from May 4th, 1970 -- during the day of the Kent State shootings.
Essentially, I will be painting an American Splendor moment on canvas instead of drawing a comic based on his life, like I do for The Pekar Project webcomics series. I'm not sure if that's even been done before.
For the gallery show we did in Cleveland for Harvey's 70th Birthday, I adapted an illustration of Duke Ellington that ran on The Pekar Project into a painting [see above], and did some paintings of Harvey, but this is our first collaboration on a painting. The subject is emotional with not much dialogue. It's about people coming together. I also have an image in my mind for a solo piece as well, we'll see if time permits.
What else would you like to manifest?
Same-sex married couples can adopt unwanted or orphaned children in need of families.. hello?
I would like to see more self-sufficiency through urban homesteading; for example, composting, using rain water, turning your front lawn into a vegetable garden etc.
It would also be nice if we could wipe the stigma off mental illness in this country.

::::Goodbye To My Friend & Mentor::::

I've been working with Harvey Pekar for a little over two years now, almost daily. I have know idea how I could have lucked out like this as an artist, though I've certainly worked hard these past 15 years at my craft.

We started working on a book project. I started doing my own script writing side by side with our man. He told me that I "have a natural ability to write along with being a talented artist." I'm so glad I worked my ass off while he was alive. He kept saying to me."Why are you cranking so hard? You have time. You act like the end of the world is coming or something." And I told him. "Well, Harv, I think time is so valuable. And maybe you don't understand what kind of opportunity this is working with you." He and I collaborated on strips that went into Chicago NewCity, Austin Chronicle, Cleveland Freetimes, Cleveland Scene, Funnytimes, Heeb Magazine,
and our latest strip in the Jewish Review of Books

I never took him for granted, and when he visited my house and family, we doted on him and made him feel comfortable. And I think he loved that! What a ham! He got along great with my husband and children. He read to them and would always come over with a new book in hand. Or we would meet at the Cleveland Heights library (where he was treated like a king, btw) and work.

It was a lot of hard work, but it was so exciting and fun to show him progress. How often do you ever get somebody interested in your work? I soaked up every second of it. It was a rare set-up and we both knew it. He loved being on the ground floor and watching me try and do something different. The last day we worked together (day before he died) at a cafe on Lee Road. We were talkin' and (after we ripped apart LeBron) got into our daily art discussion. We talked about Joan Miro being an innovator in automatic drawing along with Masson. And how they started surrealism and how Miro didn't want to be pinned down to that movement because he wanted to be free to experiment with other styles. Who am I going to dish with about art now?? I'm devastated.

If you read my latest interview in Juxtapoz (click on bottom of article part 1 & 2)
You'd know that I confessed to tearing up during the film American Splendor (before I met him) What an inspiration!!! What an amazing hard-working man. He became my cult-classic professional hero. I had know idea that the wind was going to drift me into the seat next to him at a comix discussion? He symbolized (and was) the working-class D.I.Y. and I share the same work ethic. Talent is something that you have to unearth during your life journey. And you can't do it unless you are also blessed with this embedded drive in your mind and soul. And then you need the physical energy to try and get it out on paper in an organized fashion. He had all of those skills and he wasn't lazy. He would get inspired and then he would bolt at the speed of lightening back home and get it down on paper. HE DIDN"T MESS AROUND when it came to work. And that's why I admired him.

I know he had a great life. He got everything he wanted (except money). And now he's finally a free spirit. No more hip replacement surgeries, no more cancer treatments, no more feeling angst over taxes. no more trips to the body shop or changing cat litter. No more Cleveland winters (I'm a little jealous). I know he's in a gorgeous place with piles of many fruits and vegetables he's marveling over and eating. And of course "Panayiotis 9" is playing in the background. My condolences go out to his beloved wife Joyce Brabner and his daughter Danielle. I hope God is holding him in the palm of his hand. And I would like to end this with my all time favorite quote by him. From the story entitled "Alice Quinn" -- "As decades a' faces ran through my mind. I felt like cryin': Life seemed so sweet an'so sad an' so hard to let go of in the end. But this is Monday. I went t'work , hustled some records. Came home and wrote this. T'night I'll finish 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.' Life goes on. Every day is a new deal. Keep workin; and sump'n'll turn up." Something turned up for him. ––Tara

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with NPR WKSU-Cleveland

Seibel's home is filled with mementoes of her friendship with Harvey Pekar, including a portrait she did for him on his 70th birthday. It was also used in a comic they did together.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Paris Review
(illustration by Tara Seibel)
I was keen to catch a glimpse of what is being called the “last comic” of Harvey Pekar, which is a collaboration with Tara Seibel, a Cleveland cartoonist and graphic designer. Seibel’s story of her final moment with Pekar is comforting in its ordinariness: she dropped him off at the public library, where he had parked his car. —Thessaly La Force

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My latest Harvey Illustrations...

This illustration/caricature came out of sheer impulse. I've been exploring some of the great caricaturists like Al Hirschfeld and David Levine. Lately, I've had the rare and fortunate opportunity to get some drawing tips from R. Crumb!
Illustration Coming out in a book called Comic's Comics.
note: Harvey's grave site is still unmarked. This emotional piece helped me deal with mourning Harvey Pekar's death. I was able to create some sort of memorial to him.

New York Times /Artsbeat "Some Last Bits of Splendor"

Tara Seibel, a Cleveland cartoonist and graphic designer, has a particularly vivid memory of the last time she saw Harvey Pekar.

It was July 11, and she and Mr. Pekar, the writer and “American Splendor” creator, whom she describes as “the godfather of auto-bio comics,” had finished one of their regular afternoon meetings at a neighborhood cafe where they had been working on their latest collaboration. She dropped him off at the public library where he parked his car, then drove herself home. She waited for him to phone her later that night so they could continue their discussion, but Mr. Pekar never called; he was found dead early the next morning by his wife, Joyce Brabner.

Tara Seibel and Harvey PekarTara Seibel A portion of an essay, presented in comics form, created by Harvey Pekar and Tara Seibel for the “Graphic Details” catalog.

Their collaboration, an illustrated essay that Mr. Pekar and Ms. Seibel wrote together and Ms. Seibel drew, will appear in the catalog for the exhibition “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women,” which opens at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco on Oct. 1. (A larger version of the essay panel at right can be found here.)

It may be the last comic Mr. Pekar helped write before he died, but it is just one of several works that will be released in the months to come. Stories that he wrote for the Pekar Project — a Web comic that is illustrated in rotating installments by Ms. Seibel, Joseph Remnant, Rick Parker and Sean Pryor — are still to come, as is a 2011 graphic novel, “Cleveland,” that is being illustrated by Mr. Remnant. The Pekar Project, which is hosted by Smith Magazine, is also continuing to accept submissions for its Harvey Heads gallery, for which various artists have drawn Mr. Pekar to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Though Mr. Pekar is often portrayed, even in his own comics, as an endearingly cantankerous and occasionally neurotic person, Ms. Seibel described him in a telephone interview as being cheerful in his final days.

“He just seemed so happy and so upbeat,” said Ms. Seibel, who worked with Mr. Pekar on comics that appeared in Chicago Newcity, The Cleveland Free Times, The Austin Chronicle and The Jewish Review of Books. “I’m not kidding.”

Tara Seibel and Harvey PekarTara Seibel

Ms. Seibel recalled Mr. Pekar as a fellow workaholic who accompanied her to used-book sales, became friendly with her husband and read stories to her children. (A larger version of the panel at left, depicting Ms. Seibel’s first meeting with Mr. Pekar, can be found here.)

Before Mr. Pekar’s death, she said, she spoke with him about Cleveland’s loss of another local celebrity, LeBron James, who announced on July 8 that he was signing with the Miami Heat. She said she told him that Mr. Remnant wrote on his Facebook page, “It’s O.K., Cleveland, you still have Harvey Pekar.”

“He just lit up,” Ms. Seibel said. “He was so excited about that. I think it really put him in a really good mood right away. He loved praise. He just ate it up. And it was no skin off my back to always pass compliments along to him. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he liked to work with me.”

Recently, Ms. Seibel said of Mr. Pekar: “He was starting to complain about certain things aching here and there. It was getting harder for him to walk, I noticed. He had said that there was cancer that was back. But he didn’t know what type it was yet, he was waiting to find out.”

“But he was optimistic about it,” she said, adding that she was amazed at how well Mr. Pekar took the news, given how much milder difficulties could sometimes upset him.

“He could be sitting there worried, all rumpled up over $500 and has it come in yet,” Ms. Seibel said, “versus having cancer. I was really surprised at how optimistic he was.”

Still, Ms. Seibel said, she did not expect to lose Mr. Pekar so quickly.

“We thought he was going to be around forever,” she said. “I was expecting to have him around for a lot longer.”

“He didn’t seem, like, real old,” Ms. Seibel added. “He was kind of like a hipster.”

Interview : NPR "Around Noon" with Dee Perry

Talking about my collaboration with Harvey Pekar ;

Drew University Panel (Discussing the Pekar Project on

"The first story is impressive: Tara Seibel illustrates Pekar's chat with good friend (and occasional collaborator) Robert Crumb." --USA TODAY

"Splendor in a Garden Cafe" Last Collaboration

Harvey Pekar and I were asked to write a comic-essay for the Graphic Details Show in San Francisco about Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. {I'm catholic but Harvey said it was ok for me to participate because I'm "Jewish by Association"} This was the last comic that Harvey and I worked on the day before he past away. It's close to my heart. Thanks Harv!

"The Vestibule" {new ending} for autobiographical comic book coming out!

pictures & words by tara seibel