Latest installment from graphic novelist appropriately splendorous
Harvey Pekar earned cult-hero status by telling his own story without flinching from the less-flattering details. He could hardly have found a better subject for this—his first longform book not telling his own story—than Michael Malice, the central character in Ego & Hubris.
Malice is a tough sell. He puts one teacher through mental torture, but finds it cruel when another spanks a child. He’s a conservative anarchist who can’t stand the religious right. And though he fights with just about everybody he meets, he believes the future is bright—or at least it would be if people stopped acting like idiots.
Following the same first-person format he employed so successfully in last year’s The Quitter, Pekar captures Malice’s complexities, getting into his head without bogging down the narrative with inner monologue. With the support of Gary Dumm’s clean, imaginative inking, Pekar’s biography is satisfyingly complete, communicating Malice’s life and philosophy in a succinct 160 pages. And while Malice and Pekar have a certain darkness in common, no one would ever confuse the two if they read The Quitter and Ego & Hubris side by side.
That’s a tremendous achievement, for Pekar and the graphic novel format he’s pioneered for more than 30 years.