‘Q&A: Harvey Pekar Publisher Josh Frankel’ — my latest for the Forward

My latest piece for the Forward is a Q&A on the Arty Semite blog with my fellow Drew alum, Josh Frankel:

This is Josh Frankel. Courtesy of Josh Frankel, of course.

Josh Frankel is an unlikely publisher and an even more unlikely entrepreneur. Yet he’s the founder of Zip Comix, the publisher of ” Cleveland” — the critically acclaimed posthumous work by underground comics legend Harvey Pekar, author of the long-running autobiographical series American Splendor.

Both Frankel and I went to Drew University, where he was a year ahead of me. At Drew, Josh was mostly known as the founder of the Comic Book Club, which boasted an impressive string of high-profile guest speakers from the comic book industry. But mostly people dismissed him as a nerd — or worse, afanboy, that particular species of comic book nerd that can spend hours discussing an obscure inconsistency in an early issue of “Superman.”

Then Frankel surprised everyone by securing an investor and starting Zip Comix; he not only published his own one-shot comic book, which was accepted by Diamond, the comic book distributor without whom it’s nearly impossible to sell a single issue of any comic, let alone a self-published one. It was called “The Schizophrenic,” about a superhero whose adventures are really his own hallucinations come to life. When I ran into Josh at a party earlier this year he told me that he was the publisher of Pekar’s book, and he’s now contemplating a second printing. I sat down recently with Frankel to ask him about Yiddish storytelling, the industrial middle class and his relationship with Harvey Pekar.

David A.M. Wilensky: How did you end up publishing “Cleveland”?

Josh Frankel: It all started with my own comic called “The Schizophrenic,” which was fun, but it didn’t sell well and I knew it wasn’t gonna sell well. You never sell an individual floppy well when you sell it yourself. When it got accepted by Diamond, which is the big distributor, I realized we could do more things and make some money.

You can read the rest of it over here. We get into some pretty deep stuff. I’m just sayin’.

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