[JPL] Harvey Pekar & R. Crumb: Jazz And Comics

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Tue Sep 15 09:58:57 EDT 2009

Harvey Pekar & R. Crumb: Jazz And Comics
by Felix Contreras

Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb became friends through their mutual love of 
jazz. They're also two big names in the underground comics world: Crumb 
as an illustrator, Pekar as a writer.

Their unique perspectives on American life play out in small comic 
panels. Their love for jazz comes in slightly larger formats.

Harvey Pekar is introducing a new comic series, featuring four different 
artists (Tara Seibel, Rick Parker, Sean Pryor and Joseph Remnant) 
illustrating his stories. To help launch the webcomic series' promise of 
extras, Pekar is flexing his muscles as a jazz critic and offering 
Harvey Pekar's Top Ten Jazz Innovators, illustrated by Tara Siebel and 
Sean Pryor.

His historically-oriented list is quite broad, his brief comments an 
interesting read. (Seems he was a blogger before there were blogs!) The 
illustrations would be suitable for framing too, if only they were larger.

[Ed.: From earlier this year, on NPR's Weekend Edition: Harvey Pekar 
Makes His Opera Debut (about Pekar's jazz opera libretto)]

R. Crumb has a more direct connection to jazz through his banjo and his 
band R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders. His art work has been used 
for many album covers of old time jazz and blues musicians.

In the early to mid-1980s, Crumb produced playing-card-styled 
collections called Heroes of the Blues, Early Jazz Greats and Pioneers 
of Country Music. The cards themselves are hard to find, but they have 
recently been combined into a single book with a CD of the music included.

There is something to learn from how these guys integrated jazz into 
their visual expression: an eye for improvisation; a developed sense of 
group play; a constant reminder of the past in looking toward the future.

All noble goals we could apply to life as well.


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