Synopses & Reviews
It was the year of Desert Storm that Harvey Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, discovered Harvey had cancer. Pekar, a man who has made a profession out of chronicling the Kafkaesque absurdities of an ordinary life — if any life is ordinary — suddenly found himself incapacitated. But he had a better-than-average chance to beat cancer and he took it — kicking, screaming and complaining all the way. The Pekar/Brabner coalition draws upon this and other trials to paint a portrait of a man beset with fears real and imagined — who survives. Our Cancer Year, Pekar and Brabner's first book-length comic, is the most human of stories. It is a true and unflinching account of two people battling cancer. But it is also a record of what happened to seven teenagers — young activists from Cambodia and the Middle East, friends of Joyce's — and two difficult adults, as Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm.
"Joined by his wife and collaborator Brabner and illustrator Stack, Pekar's (The New American Splendor Anthology) first book-length comics narrative is by turns amusing, frightening, moving and quietly entertaining. As always, Pekar's work records his apparently ordinary life as a hospital clerk in Cleveland while simultaneously capturing the epiphanic combination of mundanity and awkward, sporadic nobility of everyday life. In 1990, Pekar was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed chemotherapy. By the time the disease was discovered, the couple was in the midst of buying a house (a tremendous worry to Pekar, who fretted about both the money and corruptions of bourgeois creature comforts). Brabner, a self-described "comic book journalist," had to oversee both the new house and a sick and very difficult husband. Pekar's cancer treatment and suffering will take your breath away, but there's a happy ending; and the book (and their marriage) is distinguished by Brabner's great tenderness and determination in the middle of Pekar's medical nightmare. Stack's brisk and elegantly gestural black-and-white drawings wonderfully delineate this captivating story of love, community, recuperation and international friendship. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly
"This is the most impressive nonfiction graphic novel since Art Spiegelman's Maus....Stack's fluid line and strong compositional skills...do much to grab and hold us.... Few prose-only cancer survivors' accounts are as good." Booklist
Recounts a year in the life of a cancer patient and his wife in graphic form, as they cope with chemotherapy, buying a house, and moving.
About the Author
Harvey Pekar (1939 - 2010) was an American underground comic book writer, music critic and media personality, best known for his autobiographical American Splendor comic series, illustrated by artists such as Robert Crumb, Frank Stack, and Joe Sacco.In 2003, the series inspired a critically acclaimed film adaptation of the same name. He lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio with his wife, Joyce Brabner and their foster daughter Danielle.
Joyce Brabner is a writer of political comics and a sometime collaborator with her late husband Harvey Pekar. Brabner is also a liberal social activist, living in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.