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The Quitter : Le Dégonflé

par Harvey Pekar, Dean Haspiel (Illustrateur)

Autres auteurs: Lee Loughridge (Gray Tones)

Séries: American Splendor Singles (Nov 2005, #32)

MembresCritiquesPopularitéÉvaluation moyenneMentions
3101269,195 (3.59)9
""Pekar's most poignant and satisfying effort to date."--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW"Dean Haspiel. . . .performs with virtuoso flair in THE QUITTER"--THE NEW YORKER"Brutally honest."--ROLLING STONE★"A searingly honest memoir. . . . Pekar's work dignifies the struggle of the average man."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred In this virtuoso graphic novel, Harvey Pekar -- whose American Book Award-winning series American Splendor was the basis for the celebrated film of the same name -- tells the story of his troubled teen years for the first time, when he would beat up any kid who looked at him wrong just to win the praise of his peers. And when he failed to impress, whether on the football team, in math class, in the Navy or on the job, he simply gave up. A true tour-de-force, THE QUITTER is the universal tale of a young man's search for himself through the frustrations, redemptions and complexities of ordinary life.With gritty, atmospheric artwork by indie-comics luminary Dean Haspiel (American Splendor, Opposable Thumbs), THE QUITTER is both Pekar's funniest and most heart-wrenching work yet, an unforgettable graphic novel for all those, like Pekar, who have tried, failed and lived to quit another day.… (plus d'informations)
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Pekar has been writing about his life for so long that it's hard to read a new piece of his on its own terms - if there's a gap, you fill it in with what you already know. And he's always used a lot of gaps, writing about little moments here and there; he'd talk at length often enough, but it was like a tour guide who might stop at any moment and let you just watch things go by for a while. His one long book, [book: Our Cancer Year], had more or less the same rhythm, and it held together because of the intense experience it described (although Frank Stack's art, scruffy and flowing like one big sketchbook, helped too). The Quitter is a long story that doesn't hold together at all, partly because it tries so hard to be a seamless piece, but you can still pull it apart and enjoy some of the mess.

He rarely wrote about his pre-adult years in American Splendor; here he skips through them and pulls out episodes that fit his theme, with a frame of his present self saying more or less "This is my theme and here are some examples." The theme is his pattern of freaking out and abandoning various challenges, which seems pathological in some cases and pretty normal in others. There are some vivid stories in there, including a brief successful career in beating up other kids and a humiliating panic attack in a Navy laundry room. There are some great depictions of defective internal drama, like not being sure whether someone hit you on purpose but deciding you'd better hit them back just in case. And there's enough undramatic but particular stuff to give a feeling of organic life, all the seemingly random turns and false starts that somehow ended up at where you are now.

But the stories start and stop arbitrarily, dictated by the need to get on to the next example; the pacing within them is spotty too, dwelling for two pages on some trivial scene, then disposing of a major event in one panel or just in a sentence. The frame-narrator intrudes all the time to explain the transitions, so that when the subject occasionally changes without that segue, it seems like an editing error - and in some cases I think it might be, because there are a few captions that seem to assume you know about events he didn't actually mention. This book was published by DC/Vertigo, so you have a writer who's not used to working in a long form and an editor who's not used to working with realistic fiction; this is probably very unfair of me, but I wonder if DC just figured that Pekar's thing was rambling monologues and all they could see was that he was doing his thing.

I like [author: Dean Haspiel]'s art a lot (disclosure: he's a pal) and he's done some good American Splendor stories. His work in The Quitter is slick and he did his homework, but for once I didn't feel the life; the muscular line is too mismatched with the aimless script, except when it's too closely matched and just shows the exact same thing the caption is needlessly saying. (I love the cover unconditionally, though - it's a good joke if you've ever read The Spirit.)

My favorite panel in the book is when, after explaining again how fear and impatience have deflated his efforts, Harvey just looks at you and says, "And there are lots of people like me." At least on that one page, he knows the problem isn't that he's a mutant with magic failure powers in an epic tragedy; it's that we're all playing a game whose rules often result in pointless damage, and this damage makes us into obstacles for each other. ( )
  elibishop173 | Oct 11, 2021 |
An autobiography of an atypical man of letters that tells an American success story; good luck trying to convince Harvey that it's a success story though. ( )
  Grandville | Jan 5, 2021 |
Readable, decently interesting, well drawn. Not outstanding. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
For the most part, the writing is mostly on par with Pekar's other works but (and I say this with no disrespect to the artist Dean Haspiel because his artwork is really fantastic) I prefer reading Pekar's work with Robert Crumb illustrating it via American Splendor. Crumb really had a grasp of Pekar's quirks and neuroses and his stylized artwork was a perfect compliment to Pekar's personality. Unfortunately for me, Haspiel's artwork just doesn't fit very well.

Check out any of the American Splendor compilations and you will see what I mean.

[bc:American Splendor|43559|American Splendor|Harvey Pekar|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170129110s/43559.jpg|770263] ( )
  scott_semegran | Jan 29, 2018 |
The Quitter covers Harvey Pekar's childhood growing up in Cleveland. Some of this material was previously covered in American Splendor, but not much of it; that tended to focus on Harvey's later life, which only comes in at the very end here.  What can I say about it beyond that it might be my favorite Pekar comic yet?  He fills in his life in broad sketches, focusing into specific moments only a couple times, but this story really resonated with me-- as indeed, I suspect it would with anyone who's ever tried to do something and ended up giving up because it was hard. Or maybe just because of stupid reasons. The Quitter details Pekar's attempts to find something he won't give up at.

Pekar's short works resist "messages," but The Quitter has one, sort of, even if it's just that someday you might find something where you don't quit. Barely a message, but it's somehow uplifting, and I found myself feeling better about myself after finishing The Quitter, and I don't often like books that overtly try to do that to me.

Dean Haspiel might just be my favorite artistic collaborator for Pekar so far; his work is cartoony, but gritty, which suits Pekar's "neo-realist" style more so than some of the more realistic art I've seen in American Splendor, which tends to be too stiff to work as good comics.  Lee Loughridge-- who I know as Gotham Central's fabulous colorist-- accentuates the whole thing with good use of "gray tones."

Surely one of the better graphic memoirs I've ever read (and at this point, I've read too many!).
  Stevil2001 | Aug 12, 2012 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Harvey Pekarauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Haspiel, DeanIllustrateurauteur principaltoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Loughridge, LeeGray Tonesauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé

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""Pekar's most poignant and satisfying effort to date."--THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW"Dean Haspiel. . . .performs with virtuoso flair in THE QUITTER"--THE NEW YORKER"Brutally honest."--ROLLING STONE★"A searingly honest memoir. . . . Pekar's work dignifies the struggle of the average man."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred In this virtuoso graphic novel, Harvey Pekar -- whose American Book Award-winning series American Splendor was the basis for the celebrated film of the same name -- tells the story of his troubled teen years for the first time, when he would beat up any kid who looked at him wrong just to win the praise of his peers. And when he failed to impress, whether on the football team, in math class, in the Navy or on the job, he simply gave up. A true tour-de-force, THE QUITTER is the universal tale of a young man's search for himself through the frustrations, redemptions and complexities of ordinary life.With gritty, atmospheric artwork by indie-comics luminary Dean Haspiel (American Splendor, Opposable Thumbs), THE QUITTER is both Pekar's funniest and most heart-wrenching work yet, an unforgettable graphic novel for all those, like Pekar, who have tried, failed and lived to quit another day.

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