Over the years, I've read occasional comics by R. Crumb, but this was my first time reading anything by his frequent collaborator, writer Harvey Pekar, creator of the "American Splendor" comics. Pekar devotes most of his strips to slice-of-life tales of working as a government file clerk, listening to jazz music, and living a lower middle class life in Cleveland, a city long on the decline. You've got to love any comic book that attempts to grab readers, as "American Splendor" did, with such cover tag-lines as "In This Issue: Stories About Record Collecting and Working" and "In This Issue: Stories About Sickness and Old People."
The autobiographical tales in "Bob & Harv's Comics" frequently focus on Pekar's struggles to get his comics published and achieve wider recognition for his work. (Most of the comics collected here are from the late 1970s and early '80s, long before the 2003 "American Splendor" movie made Pekar at least a little bit famous for a brief time.) Those stories focused on writing and publishing comics tend to teeter back and forth between self-aggrandizement -- self-aware self-aggrandizement, but self-aggrandizement nonetheless -- and anger on Pekar's part, feelings certainly familiar to any writer or artist who's labored for years for recognition.
It's easy to see why Pekar is so well-loved among comic aficionados. (Having R. Crumb as a collaborator certainly doesn't hurt, of course.) The book's only shortcoming? I wish it were longer.