My brother Dan brought home each American Splendor comic book as Harvey Pekar published them when I was growing up. Harvey Pekar was a jazz critic, an original bebop fan, who wrote an annual comic about daily life in the Veterans Administration hospital in Cleveland where he served as file clerk. His old record-picking friend, the great Robert Crumb of Zap Comics, helped Harvey launch his American Splendor series.
In 1999 I was touring with Taj Mahal and the Music Maker Blues Revue and we had a date in Cleveland. Harvey reviewed a CD and wrote about our show in the local paper. The next day Dan and I spent time with Harvey at the VA, at the art museum and at his home. I asked Harvey if he would help me develop a comic strip series about the Music Maker artists. Harvey wrote the first few of the series with his artist Gary Dumm illustrating. This team that I grew up so greatly enjoying, who already had given me a real education, gave Music Maker a hand up. Soon after Harvey’s big movie came out he did not have time to continue writing but Gary Dumm took on the writing as well and created this huge collection.