Our Cancer Year, Paperback

Our Cancer Year Paperback

Illustrated by Frank Stack

3 out of 5 (6 ratings)


It was they year of Desert Storm that Harvey Pekar and his wife, Joyce Brabner, discovered Harvey had cancer.

Pekar, a man who has made a profession 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.

Pekar and Brabner draw on this and other trials to paint a portrait of a man beset with fears real and imagined -- who survives.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 252 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Lliterary & memoirs
  • ISBN: 9781568580111



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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

reflects harvey pekar's battle with cancer. very sad.. but i feel all of pekar's work, mostly based around his life, is sad.

Review by

I've read and Enjoyed Harvey Pear before, but i couldn't get into this one. It was plodding and aimless and sometimes sanctimonious. Also the art looked more like story boarding than illustration.

Review by

This book was done by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Blabner when Harvey was diagnosed with cancer. You see it all the way through from diagnosis through treatment and it is amazing stuff. Years of experience at exposing both his good and bad side to everyone without any self contiousness makes this a great read. As always, Harvey does none of his own artwork and the artist who did this particular volume is not a favorite of mine but it still works very very well. The next time someone sneers at "comic books" make them read this. It perfectly illustrates that comic books are a medium, NOT a genre.

Review by

Our Cancer Year chronicles Harvey's battle with Lymphoma. Not only is it an unflinching look at chemotherapy, illness, radiation and the relationship between he and his wife, but it's an amazing documentation of what happens when life suddenly has to accommodate cancer. Because that's what life does - accommodate. It does not slow down, people do not pause and it most certainly does not come to some slow-mo inspiring stop where the unpleasant parts are mere blips on the way to beating the disease in spectacular fashion. Much of this is just Harvey fitting Cancer into his life while he buys a new house. It's dealing with the everyday problems of life and trying to work while taking chemo. It's seeing cancer up close and far too personally, because it's not just the few nice shots of hair running down the drain - cancer is shingles and drug-induced paranoia. It's seeing a husband and wife pushing themselves too far before deciding to get help and finding out that even help has an unpleasant life outside of cancer.In this complete and utter depth of detail, there is comfort in seeing that someone's willing to put out their cancer year warts and all.(Originally published on my 43T account)

Review by

I know some will think I’m committing heresy when I say I did not like this nonfiction graphic novel. I imagine some of my dislike is due to the fact that I’m also reading So Much For That by Lionel Shriver, which also details a character’s battle with cancer and how it affects here care-giver. So Much For That (fiction) is just a phenomenal book on all levels. I know the supposed beauty of Harvey Pekar’s writing is the simplicity, but when I read it in conjunction with Shriver’s book, it just made Our Cancer Year seem flat, amateurish, and poorly written.Pekar and Brabner’s account of Harvey’s battle with lymphoma is poignant enough, but it takes some time to get to Harvey even going to the doctor. The first quarter of the book is all about Joyce’s friends and dealings with the international peace movement, which seems completely disjointed and… well, self-centered. Characters just appear and the reader is supposed to care about them because Joyce tells us in a few panels that they have had tough lives and are good people. We get brief updates on these characters through the book, but again it’s like someone telling you about a friend of a friend who you don’t know… while the main character (and her husband) is writhing on the floor from chemo treatments. And essentially, it all comes across as part of Joyce’s political agenda, which really should have been a completely unrelated book. SPOILER ALERT: These people, who we really don’t know, come to visit at the end and it helps “heal” Harvey’s depression. I imagine learning that he beat the cancer has something to do with it.The dialogue and inner-dialogue throughout seems very, very simplistic and unrealistic. There are parts where I felt like I was watching that scene in all CSI episodes where they over-explain everything they’re doing so everyone with a fifth grade education can understand it. It just doesn’t work well in literature, which is disappointing because Pekar is a literature lover.I wanted to like the book because I have heard so many times that it is a classic, but I just couldn’t get past what seemed like poor writing to me. I have not read any of the American Splendor series, so I have no way of telling how much of this book is Pekar’s writing and how much is Brabner’s, whose character I didn’t care for. I saw the movie adaptation when it came out years ago, but honestly the only thing I remember is that Robert Crumb was Pekar’s friend. Maybe watching it again would give me a better appreciation for the graphic novel.

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