Underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar, best known as the inspiration for the film American Splendor, died Monday morning in his Cleveland Heights home, according to WTAM 1100 news radio station. He was 70.
Although the cause of Pekar's death is not yet known, Cleveland Heights Police Capt. Michael Cannon said the writer had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression.
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Pekar's American Splendor comic book series, which followed the writer's everyday life Cleveland as a file clerk at the Veteran's Administration, inspired the 2003 film adaptation of the same name. Paul Giamatti played a fictional version of Pekar, though Pekar also appeared in the film as himself. The movie, which co-starred Hope Davis as Pekar's wife, Joyce Brabner, earned an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
The comic book, which published at irregular intervals between 1976 and 2008, was not only published by Pekar, but also by Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics imprint Vertigo. Pekar worked with famed illustrator and underground comix movement Robert Crumb on the comic.
Pekar was also a freelance jazz and book critic and won awards for his essays that were broadcast on public radio.