Actor Point >> Movie Scripts >> American Splendor Film Script

American Splendor Movie Script

Writer(s) : Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman

Genres : Comedy, Drama

Search IMDb : American Splendor


                                   "AMERICAN SPLENDOR"

                                            by

                         Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman

                                     PRODUCTION DRAFT

                

               FADE IN:

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

               A BEDROOM MIRROR.

               The room is dark. A perfectly square mirror hangs crooked on 
               a wall.

               Suddenly, out of the darkness, the reflection of a man's 
               face comes into focus. He stares straight ahead, perhaps 
               studying his own unrecognizable reflection. It's quite clear 
               this is a portrait of sickness; the man's pallor is gray, 
               his eyes are confused. There is something most definitely 
               wrong.

               Tentatively, the figure steps away from the mirror, leaving 
               the frame empty and dark.

               ANGLE ON BED

               Like a ghost, the naked man (Harvey) stands over his bed 
               staring down at his sleeping wife (Joyce). In the eerie light, 
               he's almost translucent.

                                     HARVEY
                              (faintly)
                         Joyce... Joyce?

               Joyce springs up, alarmed.

                                     JOYCE
                         What's wrong, Harvey? What are you 
                         doing up?

               Harvey just stands there for a moment saying nothing.

                                     JOYCE
                         What is it?

                                     HARVEY
                              (delirious, out of 
                              breath)
                         Tell me the truth. Am I some guy who 
                         writes about himself in a comic book? 
                         Or am I just -- am I just a character 
                         in that book?

               Joyce rubs her eyes.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey...

                                     HARVEY
                         If I die, will 'dat character keep 
                         goin'? Or will he just fade away...

               Joyce just stares at him, unsure how to answer. Suddenly 
               Harvey collapses.

               Joyce leaps from the bed, nervous, hysterical. She gets down 
               on the floor and shakes him.

                                     JOYCE
                         Omigod, Harvey! Harvey, wake up!

               CLOSE ON HARVEY'S FACE

               His eyes remain closed, his expression far, far away.

                                                             FADE TO BLACK:

               EXT. CLEVELAND ROW HOUSE - FALL - 1956 - DAY

               FADE UP ON:

               A surreal kaleidoscope of black, white and red. Similar to 
               the mirror scene above, the colors slowly come into focus, 
               revealing the chiseled features of a familiar face. But this 
               time we see that it is not a real face, but rather a plastic 
               mask of the D.C. Comic hero -- SUPERMAN.

               INTERTITLE: CLEVELAND OHIO, 1956

               CLOSE ON SUPERMAN MASK

               It glows eerily in the light of a porch lamp. A child's pupils 
               glare through the eye holes...

               The camera pans from SUPERMAN to the masked face of another 
               caped-crusader: BATMAN. Batman turns toward his loyal sidekick 
               ROBIN, who clutches a plastic, trick-or-treat pumpkin.

               Next, we find THE GREEN LANTERN as he reaches up to ring the 
               doorbell. The camera finally rests on the last boy: an unkempt 
               KID wearing no costume at all. Looking irritated and removed 
               from the rest of the group, the KID shoves his hands in the 
               pockets of his shearling coat.

               He spits and rolls his eyes as a lady answers the door.

               The brick home is as working class as it gets. The lady at 
               the door is a 1950's HOUSEWIFE.

                                     BOYS
                              (in unison)
                         Trick or treat!!

                                     HOUSEWIFE
                         Well, look at this! All the 
                         superheroes on the porch! Ain't that 
                         cute.

               The Lady drops a candy apple in each boy's container.

                                     HOUSEWIFE
                              (still yelling)
                         We got Superman here, Batman, his 
                         sidekick ROBIN, ohh, The Green Lantern 
                         even...

               She finally stops at the costumeless KID. He halfheartedly 
               holds up a ratty, stained pillowcase.

                                     HOUSEWIFE
                         And what about you young man?

                                     KID
                         What about what?

               The other boys giggle. The kid flashes them a "kick yer ass" 
               look.

                                     HOUSEWIFE
                         Who are you supposed to be?

               The kid shrugs.

                                     KID
                         I'm Harvey Pekar (pronounced "Pee 
                         Car").

                                     HOUSEWIFE
                         Harvey Pekar? That doesn't sound 
                         like a super hero to me...

                                     BOYS
                              (mumbling)
                         Pecker, Pecker...

                                     KID
                         I ain't no super hero, lady. I'm 
                         just a kid from the neighborhood, 
                         alright?

               The Housewife stares at him, confused.

                                     KID
                         Ahh, forget this...

               Frustrated, the kid throws his pillowcase down. He trudges 
               off as the others watch in confusion.

                                     KID
                         Why is everybody so stoopid?

               BEGIN NERVOUS JAZZ SCORE

               WE FOLLOW the schlumpy kid (aka HARVEY PEKAR) as he sulks 
               down the street...

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. CLEVELAND ROW HOUSE - FALL - 1975 - DUSK

               INTERTITLE: CLEVELAND OHIO, 1975

               A grown-up version of HARVEY PEKAR (now mid-thirties) stomps 
               along the same Cleveland street. Unfortunately, 20 years 
               have made this rust belt neighborhood a bit rustier. The 
               "GROWN UP HARVEY" dons the same shearling coat, sports the 
               same disheveled hair, and wears the same curmudgeonly 
               expression.

               CREDIT SEQUENCE - ANIMATED SEQUENCE INTERCUT HARVEY WALKING 
               WITH COMIC BOOK PANELS OF THE CARTOON HARVEY IN ACTION. This 
               is not your typical super-hero stuff.

               Instead it features our man engaging in such daredevil feats 
               as:

               INT. CITY BUS - FALL 1975 - DAY

               --Riding the city bus.

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - DAY

               --Working as a file clerk at the Veteran's Hospital.

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT / KITCHEN - DAY

               --Trying to wash dishes.

               INT. SUPERMARKET - DAY

               --Waiting on line at the supermarket.

               EXT. GARAGE SALE - DAY

               --Buying used records from a garage sale table.

               INT. GREASY SPOON DINER - DAY

               --Eating junk food at a greasy spoon.

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - DAY

               Harvey fixes a rip in his coat with Elmer's Glue.

               (Note: Each "Cartoon Harvey" looks similar but unique... A 
               variation on a theme. This is because his cartoons are drawn 
               by different comic artists.)

               Intermittently, bold cartoon credits flash across the screen: 

                        FROM OFF THE STREETS OF CLEVELAND COMES...

               Followed by the explosive title:

                                    AMERICAN SPLENDOR

               The high-energy music and upbeat titles -- in direct contrast 
               to the sulking image of Harvey -- continue through the 
               remainder of the credits.

               EXT. CLEVELAND STREET OVERLOOKING FACTORIES - DAY

               We're now on HARVEY'S back as he continues his forlorn 
               journey. We move forward, past him, to peer over the hill at 
               the factories below.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Okay. We're throwing a lot at ya 
                         here, so lemme step in an' help ya 
                         catch up. This is the story about 
                         comic books, an' a guy who made a 
                         whole life outta them. You could 
                         even say comics saved his life. This 
                         guy here, he's our man, Harvey Pekar -- 
                         all grown up and goin' nowhere. 
                         Although he's a pretty scholarly 
                         cat, he never got much of a formal 
                         education. For the most part, he's 
                         lived in shit neighborhoods, held 
                         shit jobs, and is now knee deep into 
                         a second disastrous marriage. So if 
                         yer lookin' for romance or escapism 
                         or some fantasy figure to save the 
                         day, guess what? Ya got the wrong 
                         movie.

               SUDDENLY EVERYTHING -- THE MUSIC, THE CREDITS, THE IMAGES -- 
               COMES TO A HALT.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. SOUND STAGE - PRESENT - DAY

               HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

               The REAL HARVEY PEKAR (not the actor who trudged through the 
               credits) sits behind a microphone, supplying the "voice over" 
               above. He clutches a movie script in his hand.

               The frame is spare, with a few well-chosen items to indicate 
               that he's in a recording session.

               Although he is significantly older than the man who portrays 
               him, the "Real Harvey" is every bit as much of a sad sack... 
               maybe even more. He is large and slightly threatening with 
               knitted brows and wild eyes. Yet there is something kind and 
               vulnerable about him -- a teddy bear who could kick your 
               ass. Off Camera, WE HEAR the voices of the male and female 
               directors (us -- BOB and SHARI) coaching the "Real Harvey" 
               through his voice over. Harvey's irritable and contrary, 
               saying that the whole Halloween incident never even happened.

               "But I don't care man. I'm just doing this for the dough." 
               We learn that Harvey is a reluctant participant in a film 
               being made about his life.

               SUDDENLY, his third wife JOYCE BRABNER -- an intelligent 
               control freak obsessed with all things negative -- joins in 
               the conversation. Pushing back her huge glasses, she 
               reprimands Harvey like he is an infant: "Harvey you are 
               talking too loud, Harvey you are being difficult." Harvey 
               just rolls his eyes. Joyce gets offended. It is clear they 
               have had this argument a million times. As Joyce storms off...

               Harvey explains that his wife is trying to take over the 
               movie. He laments that she is his third wife, and he has no 
               luck with women. "Man, chicks just don't dig me." That's why 
               he marries anyone who will have him. "And I marry them fast 
               before they get to know the real me..."

               END HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. EXAMINATION ROOM - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               INTERTITLE: 1975

               HARVEY sits on a table in his T-shirt and underwear. A DOCTOR 
               unwraps a tongue depressor.

               Harvey's voice is hoarse, raspy and barely audible. It sounds 
               like it hurts for him to talk. Yet, he can't stop ranting.

                                     HARVEY
                         Doc, you gotta help me. My old lady's 
                         dumping me 'cause I can't talk. She 
                         says I'm a social embarrassment. Now 
                         that she's got her PhD, she's some 
                         hot shit academic star an' I'm nuthin' 
                         but a file clerk with nothin' ta say 
                         an' no voice ta say it. But me bein' 
                         a file clerk was fine when I wrote 
                         the damn check for her tuition --

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         Harvey, stop talking please, and 
                         open wide.

               He points the tongue depressor at Harvey's mouth but he just 
               keeps on going.

                                     HARVEY
                         I just don't get it... We were doin' 
                         okay for a while. Then we took that 
                         stupid belated honeymoon. I started 
                         losin' my voice on the plane. Can 
                         you believe that... On the plane, 
                         doc?

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         Bad timing, I guess. Now please say 
                         "Ah," Mr. Pekar.

                                     HARVEY
                         "Ahhh."
                              (without missing a 
                              beat)
                         "Ahhh" ruined the trip. I got crazy, 
                         started to worry my voice would never 
                         come back. I mean, my wife didn't 
                         know me so long before we got hitched. 
                         What if she totally forgets what I'm 
                         like? Man, it's torture --

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         Shhh...

               The Doctor shines a penlight into Harvey's mouth and looks 
               around.

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         Uh-huh.

               He raises an eyebrow. Harvey catches this. Hypochondria 
               overtakes him.

                                     HARVEY
                              (the penlight in his 
                              mouth)
                         What? Is it bad, doc?

               The Doctor removes the penlight.

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         It's not good.

               Harvey jumps off the table.

                                     HARVEY
                         It's cancer? First I got marital 
                         problems and now yer tellin' me I 
                         got throat cancer? Omigod...

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         Harvey, calm down. It's not cancer. 
                         You have a nodule on your vocal 
                         chords. Probably from screaming and 
                         yelling too much. And if you don't 
                         stop talking and give it a rest, 
                         you're gonna lose your voice 
                         completely.

               Relieved, Harvey calms down. He nods, agreeing to be good.

                                     HARVEY
                         Whew... Okay, okay. But fer how long?

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         A few months.

                                     HARVEY
                              (loudly)
                         Months!!

               Suddenly Harvey's voice cracks under his effort to raise it.

               He sheepishly grabs his throat.

                                     DOCTOR #1
                         See? More of that and you'll do 
                         permanent damage. Now go home, keep 
                         your mouth shut, and hopefully we 
                         won't have to operate.

               Operate? Harvey gets nervous again. The Doctor throws him 
               his clothing.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. CLEVELAND STREET - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               A silent sequence. A dejected HARVEY walks home alone along 
               an empty lot. Day-old dirty snow clings to the ground.

               He wanders through a down-in-the-heels neighborhood, passing 
               run-down stores and ramshackle apartments.

               EXT. BUS STOP - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               Harvey approaches TOBY -- a dumpy 20-something going on 60- 
               something in ridiculous, mismatched polyester clothing. He 
               is odd, awkward and talks with a monotone, robotic voice. In 
               short, he is a super dork.

                                     TOBY
                         Hi Harvey. You weren't in work today. 
                         Are you okay, Harvey?

               Harvey barely looks up. He nods his head "yes" and keeps 
               walking.

                                     TOBY
                              (yelling after him)
                         I'm heading downtown to the White 
                         Castle. Wanna come, Harvey?

               Harvey leaves Toby behind and turns the corner.

               EXT. DELI - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               Two WOMEN argue loudly over a payphone.

                                     SPANISH WOMAN #1
                              (in Spanish)
                         I already told you, I'm waiting for 
                         a call!

                                     SPANISH WOMAN #2
                         Oh yeah? Since when is this your 
                         private office?!

                                     SPANISH WOMAN #1
                         Since you can kiss my ass.

               Harvey stops in his tracks and stares at them, jealous of 
               their ability to speak.

               CLOSE UP: SPANISH WOMAN #1's MOUTH

                                     HARVEY
                              (to himself)
                         Look at 'em yakkin'. How do they do 
                         it?

               Out of the corner of her eye, WOMAN #2 notices Harvey 
               eavesdropping.

                                     WOMAN #2
                              (yelling at Harvey)
                         Ay, what are you looking at? Maricone!

               Startled, Harvey moves on.

               EXT. ACROSS FROM A PARK - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               He passes a group of KIDS playing in the snow. They scream, 
               yell and laugh with abandon.

                                     HARVEY
                              (shaking his head)
                         They all make it seem so easy.

               Then, BAM! Harvey is awakened from his reverie by a snowball. 
               The kids laugh loudly. He wipes away the snow and walks on.

               A VOICE OVER interrupts the scene.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Here's our man walking home from the 
                         doctor's. He's got the weight of the 
                         world on him. And fer what, really? 
                         'Cause his throat's a little screwy? 
                         Man, people in India are starvin' to 
                         death every day. His problems are 
                         nothin'.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. BRIDGE OVER TRAIN TRACKS - DAY

               Totally dejected, HARVEY crosses over train tracks on his 
               way home.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Still, he can't help feelin' paranoid, 
                         like some supernatural force is 
                         conspiring against him to rob him of 
                         his voice.

               EXT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               Harvey sulks up the steps of his brick low-rise apartment 
               building. He passes an ELDERLY NEIGHBOR coming down the walk 
               with her shopping cart. Harvey unlocks the door.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Maybe his old lady will go easy on 
                         him today, when she sees how upset 
                         he is.

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - WINTER - 1975 - DAY

               Harvey's second wife LANA -- a hippyish chic with long hair 
               and a bad attitude -- pulls books off a shelf and selectively 
               throws them onto the floor or packs them into a milk crate.

               An overstuffed suitcase sits beside her. She's obviously 
               leaving him. HARVEY enters the room.

                                     HARVEY
                              (whispering)
                         Ay... What is this?

               Harvey's voice breaks up.

                                     LANA
                         Exactly what it looks like.

                                     HARVEY
                              (loud)
                         Whattya mean!! You mean yer dumpin' 
                         me?! Fer what?
                              (his voice really 
                              rips)
                         Ah, shit!

               That last yell did it. Harvey grabs throat in pain, torn 
               between his throat discomfort and trying to stop his wife 
               from leaving.

                                     LANA
                         Look, your plebeian lifestyle isn't 
                         working for me anymore. Cleveland's 
                         not working for me anymore. I gotta 
                         get out of here before I kill myself.

                                     HARVEY
                         But --

               She gathers her bags and heads for the door. Harvey trails 
               her, trying to reason.

               He opens his mouth, but nothing comes out.

                                     HARVEY
                              (mouthing, just a 
                              wheeze)
                         Please! Wait, honey... Just listen 
                         to what I got to say...

               She turns and stares at him. Harvey tries to say something.

               But now nothing at all comes out of his mouth. Only wheezes 
               air.

               He tries again. No sound at all.

               Finally LANA gives up, turns back towards the door and leaves.

               SLAM!!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - 1975 - DAY

               At his cubicle in the file room, Harvey fills a cart with 
               files. He's physically at work, but mentally in a daze.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Here's our man -- yeah alright, here's 
                         me -- or the guy playin' me, anyway, 
                         though he don't look nothin' like 
                         me, but whatever. So it's a few months 
                         later an' I'm workin' my flunky, 
                         file-clerk gig at the V.A. Hospital. 
                         My voice still ain't back yet. Things 
                         seem like they can't get any worse...

               A nurse pops her head in. Harvey hands her a file.

                                     NURSE
                         Thank you, Harvey dear.

               He doesn't hear her, still stewing about LANA. He shoves the 
               last files in the cart and pushes it away.

                                     HARVEY
                              (to himself)
                         Plebeian... where the hell did she 
                         get that shit?

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. FILE ROOM -- A FEW MOMENTS LATER

               We see rows and rows of endless files...

               Still in a daze, Harvey removes the files from the cart and 
               puts them on the shelves.

                                     MR. BOATS (O.S.)
                         Avoid the reeking herd! Shun the 
                         polluted flock! Live like that stoic 
                         bird, The eagle of the rock!

               Harvey turns around. Mr. Boats -- a portly, African-American 
               maintenance worker wearing a bow-tie -- steps into Harvey's 
               row. He has a tool box.

                                     HARVEY
                         Huh? Oh. Hiya, Mr. Boats.

               Harvey resumes shelving.

                                     BOATS
                         You know what that means, son?

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah. It's from an Elinor Hoyt Wylie 
                         poem. It means stay away from the 
                         crowds of common ordinary people an' 
                         do yer own thing.

               Mr. Boats laughs.

                                     BOATS
                         Nope, it means don't compromise 
                         yourself for women. Ain't gonna do 
                         you no good! Get away from 'em as 
                         soon as you can!

                                     HARVEY
                         Well I ain't got no woman now. So 
                         I'm living like the stoic bird, man.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         The only way to live, son.

               Somehow this doesn't make Harvey feel any better about his 
               life.

               INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAY -- DAY

               Harvey carries an armful of files. Mr. Boats still trails 
               him, lugging his tool box.

               Suddenly, Mr. Boats points out a young African-American FILE 
               CLERK wearing a pair of big headphones on his afro. He moves 
               as if he's listening to music.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Look at that fool over there. What's 
                         he wearing?

                                     HARVEY
                         Huh? That's an A.M.-F.M. radio he's 
                         listening to... They got 'em fixed 
                         up now like a pair of earmuffs.

                                     MR. BOATS
                              (inappropriately 
                              angered)
                         MMPH! Isn't that somethin! People 
                         have gone crazy. They'll buy any 
                         kinda junk! Probably listening to 
                         that loud rock stuff. Junk, junk, 
                         it's all junk!

                                     HARVEY
                         Well, I don't know. Rock music's got 
                         some good qualities. I mean it ain't 
                         jazz or nothin'.

               Mr. Boats looks at him like he's crazy.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Say, when you gonna bring me in some 
                         good records? Some Nat "King" Cole 
                         with Strings...

                                     HARVEY
                         I don't got any of that, Mr. Boats...

               Mr. Boats stops and yells down the hall at Harvey.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Yeah, you got it... You're keepin' 
                         it at home, though! You won't turn 
                         loose the good stuff... You just 
                         sell the junk!

               Harvey shakes his head as Mr. Boats finishes his diatribe.

               Mr. Boats turns into a room.

                                     MR. BOATS
                              (singing)
                         Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa. Men have named 
                         you.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. SOUND STAGE - PRESENT - DAY

               HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

               Harvey sits on outdoor furniture. A few props are featured 
               in the frame indicating a garage-sale-like setting (including 
               a record player). Directly in front of Harvey are boxes of 
               used records.

               HARVEY shows us his prodigious record collection. Thousands 
               of LP's -- rare jazz, blues, fusion, klezmer, etc. -- are 
               piled in floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

               He tells us about his love of jazz and how he started writing 
               jazz reviews and music articles. He finds the first record 
               that he reviewed and puts it on his turntable. As the music 
               plays...

               Harvey talks about how he started buying and selling records.  
               This leads into how he first met ROBERT CRUMB.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. CLEVELAND GARAGE SALE - FALL - 1962 - DAY

               INTERTITLE: 1962

               HARVEY (a little more hair but the exact same style) and a 
               bunch of his BUDDIES sift through old records at a junk sale.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         In the early sixties I was with some 
                         buddies at a junk sale looking for 
                         some choice sides when I met this 
                         shy, retiring cat from Philadelphia 
                         named Bob Crumb. You know the guy; 
                         Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural an' all -- 
                         they made a movie about him, too.

               One of Harvey's pals -- MARTY -- pulls a record out of a 
               box.

                                     MARTY
                         C'mon, Harv. You dig Jay McShann. 
                         You gonna buy that or what?

               Harvey jumps up from his search to check out the LP.

                                     HARVEY
                         I don't know, Marty. It's got a 
                         lamination crack in it...
                              (checking out the 
                              price)
                         A quarter. Maybe I can get him down.

                                     MARTY
                         You are one cheap bastard Harvey.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, I know I'm tight, man, but I 
                         live on a government wage.

               A skinny guy with a big nose, glasses and a ratty trench 
               coat taps Harvey on the shoulder. He is soft-spoken, a bit 
               shy and very odd -- a young ROBERT CRUMB.

                                     CRUMB
                         You collect Jay McShann, man?

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, man. How 'bout you?

                                     CRUMB
                         Yeah but most of my records are back 
                         in Philly.

               A greaser-type guy in a leather jacket, PAHLS, joins them.

                                     PAHLS
                         Harv, meet my buddy Bob Crumb. He 
                         just moved to town. He's an artist 
                         at American Greeting Card Company.

                                     HARVEY
                         That's cool.

                                     PAHLS
                         You should see his comics, Harv. 
                         They are outta sight.

                                     HARVEY
                              (interested)
                         Yeah? I'm into comics myself.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - FALL - 1962 - DAY

               A disheveled mess that gives new meaning to the term bachelor 
               pad. Records and books are strewn everywhere.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         So Crumb showed me this comic book 
                         novel he was working on -- THE BIG 
                         YUM YUM BOOK. I'd never seen anything 
                         like it.

               HARVEY marches back and forth holding Crumb's illustrated 
               comic novel. CRUMB sits on the floor nursing a beer and 
               sorting through vintage comic books. Harvey's bursting with 
               so much enthusiasm, it's almost aggressive.

                                     HARVEY
                         It's terrific, man! I really dig 
                         your work.

               Crumb ignores Harvey's praise.

                                     CRUMB
                              (holding up a vintage 
                              comic)
                         This PETER WHEAT book is by Walt 
                         Kelly... It's pretty rare.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah? Can I get good bread for it?

                                     CRUMB
                         Nah! Not yet.

               Harvey flops down in an overstuffed chair. Stuffing flies 
               out. He sips his beer.

                                     HARVEY
                         Listen man, let's get back to your 
                         book. What are you gonna do with it?

                                     CRUMB
                              (looking up)
                         I hadn't thought about it. It's just 
                         an exercise.

               Harvey flips through the book.

                                     HARVEY
                         It's more than an exercise. It's 
                         breaking ground, man. There's some 
                         wild shit in here.

               Crumb is immune to Harvey's enthusiasm.

                                     CRUMB
                         You're spitting on me, Harvey.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - FALL - 1962 - LATER

               CRUMB lies on the couch sketching while HARVEY reads more of 
               THE YUM YUM BOOK. A scratchy jazz record plays.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Crumb and I hung out a lot back then. 
                         We had records and comics in common.

               ANGLE ON CRUMB'S DRAWING

               We see Crumb is actually sketching Harvey, slumped in a chair 
               reading a book. Crumb makes Harvey look like a smelly, sweaty 
               madman with ratty clothing.

               Crumb holds the sketch of Harvey up to show him.

                                     CRUMB
                              (laughing)
                         Check it out, man. Pretty scary.

               Harvey glances up at his portrait, completely unselfconscious.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, ya don't know the half of it.

               Harvey goes back to reading. Crumb back to sketching.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Eventually people got hip to Crumb's 
                         art work and he started hangin' out 
                         with a Bohemian crowd. After a while, 
                         he got sick of greeting cards and 
                         moved away to San Francisco where he 
                         got the whole underground comic scene 
                         off the ground.

               Crumb slowly evaporates from the room, leaving Harvey totally 
               alone.

               ANGLE ON 45 RECORD SPINNING AND SPINNING

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         He'd come back ta Cleveland every 
                         few years, an' people'd treat him 
                         like a celebrity.

               The record spins and spins...

               END FLASHBACK

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. BUS STOP - 1975 - DAY

               ANOTHER R. CRUMB DRAWING OF HARVEY (Now circa 1975)

               On a sketch pad we see a deranged, tormented Harvey sitting 
               alone on a park bench. He pulls at his hair, and looks as 
               though he may murder the next person who walks by.

               INTERTITLE: BACK TO 1975

               As the pencil adds shading to Harvey's face, WE HEAR:

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Once he came to visit when I was 
                         really feelin' bad. It was right 
                         around the time of my throat 
                         operation, an' right after my second 
                         wife left me. At first it was pretty 
                         weird. I mean, here my life was 
                         falling apart an' everything was 
                         going great for him. I was on my 
                         second divorce an' he was a big hit 
                         with the chicks. I was a nothin' 
                         file clerk and he was this famous 
                         cartoonist.

               HARVEY and R. CRUMB sit on a park bench together by a bus 
               stop. A distraught Harvey whines while Crumb just sketches.

               Harvey's voice is still raspy.

                                     HARVEY
                         I dunno, man. On the one hand most 
                         women gettin' graduate degrees 
                         wouldn't give a guy like me the time 
                         a' day. An' she married me an' 
                         everything, so I gotta give her some 
                         kinda credit. But then she got so 
                         mean to me in the end. An' it ain't 
                         like I tried t'keep her captive or 
                         anything like that, y'know?

               Crumb may or may not be listening to Harvey. It's hard to 
               tell.

                                     HARVEY
                         An' then on top of it I lost my voice 
                         for three months. I still sound like 
                         shit, but before I had nothin'. Man, 
                         talk about hell. I started forgettin' 
                         what I sound like, y'know? So I 
                         started writin' stuff down -- stories 
                         an' things, my points a' view, ideas. 
                         I even published a couple jazz record 
                         reviews. I guess that ended up bein' 
                         a good thing.

                                     CRUMB
                         Uh-huh.

                                     HARVEY
                         But don't think I buy into this 
                         "growth" crap. Everybody talks about 
                         how bad experiences can cause ya 
                         t'grow, an' all that clich�d stuff. 
                         I've had enough bad experiences and 
                         growth to last me plenty.
                              (a beat)
                         Right now, I'd be glad to trade some 
                         growth for happiness.

               For a moment, they both just sit there saying nothing to 
               each other, each man in his own private universe.

               Finally Harvey looks over to Crumb.

                                     HARVEY
                         So how long are ya stayin' in 
                         Cleveland?

               Crumb never looks up from his picture.

                                     CRUMB
                         I dunno, man. I gotta go visit this 
                         chick in New York. And I'm really 
                         busy with the comic book stuff. It's 
                         good bread and all man but I'm getting 
                         fed up with the whole scene.

                                     HARVEY
                         What are ya talkin' about? Yer makin' 
                         a good living doin' yer art? Sheesh. 
                         How many guys get that lucky in their 
                         life, huh?

                                     CRUMB
                         Yeah, I dunno.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ya know man, people are startin' to 
                         know the name "Crumb." When you croak 
                         you're gonna leave something behind.

                                     CRUMB
                         Yeah, my ashes and some crappy 
                         doodles. It's not like I'm Blind 
                         Lemon Jefferson or Big Mama Thornton.

                                     HARVEY
                         C'mon, man. It sure beats workin' a 
                         gig like mine -- being a nobody flunky 
                         and sellin' records on the side for 
                         a buck.

                                     CRUMB
                         Yeah, well that's true...

               Harvey nods in agreement, mulling this over. He's not at all 
               offended.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - 1975 - DAY

               CLOSE ON A FILE DRAWER MARKED: "RECENTLY DECEASED."

               A hand reaches into the frame and opens the drawer.

               By rote, HARVEY fumbles with a large stack of "expired 
               patient" files. He places each into the appropriate 
               alphabetical "deceased" drawer.

               Attempting to grab another batch, Harvey accidentally knocks 
               the entire pile onto the floor.

                                     HARVEY
                         Damn it!

               He crouches down to survey the mess -- a collage of "expired 
               lives" laid out before his eyes.

               We move past dozens of anonymous names -- William Anderson, 
               Louis Collins, Mark D'Amico, Tyrone Moore, Franklin Ray, 
               etc... Each file has a red "Deceased" stamp.

               Depressed, HARVEY is transfixed by the files surrounding him 
               on the floor. Suddenly he stops and picks one up.

               ANGLE ON FOLDER: It is marked, "CHARLIE MARSHALL."

               He opens the folder and reads the stats...

               Born: 1920 in Cleveland Died: 1920 in Cleveland Occupation: 
               Clerk

               ANGLE ON HARVEY: He swallows hard as he reads about Charlie's 
               small, invisible and now vanished life... He tosses the folder 
               back onto the pile.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1975 - MORNING

               CLOSE ON: TWO STICK FIGURES IN AN EMPTY FRAME

               HARVEY sits at a table with a pen in hand and a blank sheet 
               of paper in front of him. Nothing seems to come to him.

               He flips through a pile of comic books -- everything from 
               D.C. Comic Super Heroes to underground works such as Crumb's 
               Mr. Natural and Zap Comix. No inspiration. Harvey throws 
               them down in frustration.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm starvin'.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. SUPERMARKET - 1975 - DAY

               HARVEY pushes a cart through the cramped aisles of a crowded 
               supermarket. He pulls a few cans of Beef-A-Roni off the shelf 
               and heads off to pay. Reaching the check-out area, he 
               evaluates the situation.

               ANGLE ON CHECK-OUT COUNTERS:

               There are three lines to choose from. Two of the counters 
               have long waits. The third is much shorter but there is an 
               OLD JEWISH LADY next in line.

               SUDDENLY, THE SCREEN SPLITS IN TWO:

               The LEFT SIDE OF THE FRAME remains Harvey at the supermarket 
               deliberating over the check-out lines.

               However, the RIGHT SIDE OF THE FRAME now contains a CRUMB 
               STYLE COMIC PANEL DEPICTING THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO. A BUBBLE 
               appears over CARTOON HARVEY'S head revealing his thoughts. 
               It reads: "Pickin' the right check-out line is an art... 
               There's a lot of things you gotta consider."

               ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE FRAME... Harvey decides to get behind 
               the Old Lady.

               MEANWHILE ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE FRAME... Cartoon 
               Harvey stands behind the Old Lady.

               A new BUBBLE reads: "It may be the shortest line but I am 
               takin' a chance 'cause she's an Old Jewish Lady."

               BACK TO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE FRAME... The CASHIER rings up 
               the Old Lady's purchases -- a few kitchen glasses.

                                     OLD JEWISH LADY
                              (Yiddish Accent)
                         Listen, goily, dese glasses are six 
                         for $2.00 because I couldn't carry 
                         twelf... But I vanted twelf so today 
                         I'm buying six more... But you should 
                         only charge me $1.50 for dem... It's 
                         ok, you can esk de meneger.

               Harvey rolls his eyes and stamps his foot impatiently. He 
               knows he's in trouble now.

                                     CASHIER
                              (yelling)
                         Frank! I need a price check.

               SUDDENLY, THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE SCREEN BECOMES FULLY 
               ANIMATED... Instead of still comic panels with balloons, the 
               Cartoon Harvey now rants directly into the camera.

                                     CARTOON HARVEY
                         Man, Old Jewish Ladies will argue 
                         forever with a cashier about anything. 
                         Get behind them in a line an' yer 
                         gonna wait forever!

               The Human Harvey seems oblivious to his cartoon replica. He 
               impatiently leans on his cart, waiting and seething.

                                     CARTOON HARVEY
                         I mean, I'm a yid myself, an' the 
                         women in my family are like that... 
                         But I never got used to it... I may 
                         be cheap, but I got limits!

               ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE SCREEN... The MANAGER finally 
               arrives. The Old Lady haggles with him, too.

                                     OLD JEWISH LADY
                         Please. Let me 'splain von more time.

               MEANWHILE ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE... The Cartoon Harvey turns 
               to address the Human Harvey, who actually looks him in the 
               eyes. It now seems Human Harvey can actually hear his cartoon 
               alter ego.

                                     CARTOON HARVEY
                         Wake up! You're whole life's gettin' 
                         eaten away by this kinda crap! What 
                         kind of existence is this? Is this 
                         all a workin' stiff like you can 
                         expect? Ya gonna suffer in silence 
                         fer the rest a' yer life?! Or ya 
                         gonna make a mark. Huh? Huh?

               IN AN INSTANT, THE CARTOON HARVEY DISAPPEARS AND THE LIVE 
               ACTION SCENE TAKES OVER THE WHOLE FRAME.

               Suddenly motivated by an odd notion, Harvey abandons his 
               grocery cart and runs out of the supermarket.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S KITCHEN -- NIGHT

               Bursting with ideas, Harvey (wearing his undershirt and 
               boxers) starts story-boarding his first comic with stick 
               figures.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S KITCHEN - 1975 - MORNING

               A bleary-eyed HARVEY, still clad in an undershirt and boxers, 
               dozes off over a bowl of Corn Flakes. On the table next to 
               some spilled milk are a stack of papers covered with 
               scribbling. He clearly has been slaving over this work all 
               night.

               ANGLE ON PAPERS:

               At the top is a quickly scribbled title, "Standing Behind 
               Old Jewish Ladies In Supermarket Lines." These are ad hoc 
               versions of a comic book. The pages are divided like a tick-
               tack-toe board. Each square is filled with crude stick figure 
               drawings and lots of writing.

               An alarm clock goes off. Harvey's eyes fly open.

                                     HARVEY
                         Shit. Work.

               Harvey yawns, then notices the pile of papers. He peruses 
               them, proud of his work. He gets up and looks out the window.

               I/E. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - HARVEY'S POV - 1975 - MORNING

               It is yet another grey day in Cleveland. The neighborhood is 
               run-down. Garbage is strewn everywhere.

               The following scene unfolds through the window:

               Two UNSIGHTLY WORKERS lug an old, smelly mattress from a 
               garage towards the garbage cans on the curb. Their 
               conversation is distant, but entirely audible.

                                     MATTRESS GUY #1
                         So how smart is she?

                                     MATTRESS GUY #2
                         I dunno. I guess she's about average.

                                     MATTRESS GUY #1
                         Average? Hey, man. Average is dumb!

               They drop the mattress in place. With the window framing 
               these guys, the scene FREEZES, looking just like a comic 
               book panel.

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - DAY

               Harvey turns around from the scene and ponders it. He moves 
               back towards his pile of stick-figure drawings.

               CLOSE ON PAPER

               Harvey scribbles the words "AMERICAN SPLENDOR" at the top of 
               the page.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. CLEVELAND DINER - 1975 - DAY

               The following scene is shot through the restaurant window.  
               We see reflections of people walking by.

               A tense HARVEY starts at CRUMB as he eats a burger and reads 
               Harvey's mock-ups. Harvey doesn't touch his burger deluxe 
               and nervously talks in his laryngitis-afflicted voice.

                                     HARVEY
                         See, ever since I read your stuff, 
                         man I've been thinking I could write 
                         comic book stories that were different 
                         from anything being done.

                                     CRUMB
                              (munching on a fry)
                         Uh-huh.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm thinkin', the guys who do animal 
                         comics and super-hero stuff are really 
                         limited 'cause they gotta try to 
                         appeal to kids. And underground comics 
                         like yours have been really subversive 
                         or opened things up politically. But 
                         there is still plenty more ta be 
                         done with 'em, too, y'know?

                                     CRUMB
                         Pass me the ketchup?

                                     HARVEY
                         I mean with pictures and words, it 
                         could be more of an art form. Like 
                         those French movies are. Or De Sica 
                         over in Italy, y'know?... So I tried 
                         writin' some things about real life. 
                         Stuff the everyman's gotta deal with.

               Crumb finally looks up from Harvey's work.

                                     CRUMB
                         These are about you.

                                     HARVEY
                         Er, yeah...

                                     CRUMB
                         You turned yourself into a comic 
                         hero?

                                     HARVEY
                         Sorta, yeah. But no idealized shit. 
                         No phony bullshit. The real thing, 
                         y'know? Ordinary life is pretty 
                         complex stuff.

               Crumb reads more. Harvey waits anxiously. Finally Crumb starts 
               to chuckle.

                                     CRUMB
                         These are really good, Harv.

                                     HARVEY
                              (insecure)
                         Really? Ya think so?

               Crumb shuffles through more.

                                     CRUMB
                         Yeah. This is great stuff, man. I 
                         dig it. Can I take them home and 
                         illustrate them?

               Harvey is practically bursting.

                                     HARVEY
                         Wow!!

               Harvey's voice breaks like a kid in puberty. He clears his 
               throat. And something miraculous happens...

               When Harvey opens his mouth to speak his LARYNGITIS IS GONE!

                                     HARVEY
                         You'd do that for me, man? That'd be 
                         great! I can't draw a straight line!

                                     CRUMB
                         Hey, what's up with your voice, Harv? 
                         All of a sudden it sounds fine.

                                     HARVEY
                              (thrilled)
                         I don't know, man! I guess you cured 
                         me!

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - SNACK ROOM HALLWAY - DAY

               HARVEY bounds towards the snack room where a group of hospital 
               workers and patients hang out. He bangs on the window to get 
               their attention. When they look up, Harvey waves a comic 
               book in the air.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - SNACK ROOM - DAY

               A GLOSSY, FULL-COLOR COMIC BOOK FEATURING THE TWO MATTRESS 
               GUYS: Scrawled across the top in big red letters reads, 
               "AMERICAN SPLENDOR. Vol. #1" A man's finger points to the 
               words, "All Stories by Harvey Pekar. Art by R. Crumb." The 
               comic book sits atop a table in the dreary snack room.

               A crowd of HOSPITAL WORKERS, PATIENTS, DOCTORS, MAINTENANCE 
               WORKERS, etc. (under ten total) gather around a proud HARVEY 
               who shows off his work. For the first time, he seems almost 
               happy.

                                     HARVEY
                              (beaming)
                         See that? All stories by yours truly.

               A WWII VET PATIENT with a portable IV cranes to get a glimpse.

                                     WW II VET PATIENT
                         Hot off the presses, huh? We got a 
                         regular Hemingway here.

                                     HARVEY
                         No way, Jack, I don't go in for that 
                         macho crap.

               DOCTOR #3 chimes in.

                                     DOCTOR #3
                         I didn't know you could draw, Pekar.

                                     HARVEY
                         Nah! I don't draw. I just write the 
                         stories. A buddy of mine and some of 
                         his friends do the art work.

               TOBY, the supernerd from the bus stop, grabs the comic book 
               off the table and peruses it.

                                     TOBY
                         Harvey, am I in here? You promised I 
                         would be in here.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah! Yeah! You're in there, alright? 
                         Jeez, Toby.

               SUDDENLY, MR. BOATS -- Harvey's philosophical co-worker -- 
               pushes his way thorough the crowd. He snatches the comic out 
               of Toby's hand.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Let me see this.

                                     TOBY
                         Mr. Boats, it's not polite to grab 
                         things. Next time --

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Son, you done good. Ya know, I was 
                         up in Toronto a few weeks back an' I 
                         saw the Red Chinese Ballet...

               As Mr. Boats talks, the crowd starts to disperse.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Now that was beautiful. The way those 
                         people were dancing together. Those 
                         Chinese work hard. I tell ya, they 
                         work hard -- Where is everybody goin'?

               Mr. Boats hands the comic book back to Harvey and turns on 
               his heels. Through the window he notices TWO VETS IN 
               WHEELCHAIRS moving down the hall.

                                     MR. BOATS
                         Where these sickly men rushin' off 
                         to? They ain't goin' nowhere for 
                         now. Maybe not for a long time. But 
                         damn if they ain't in a rush to get 
                         there.

               Harvey stands there, his moment of glory passed. But it's 
               okay. He flips through his comic and smiles.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. STREET CORNER - ASSOC. OF POLISH WOMEN - 1975 - DAY

               A motley group of GUYS hang out on a street corner in front 
               of the Association of Polish Women. HARVEY heads towards 
               them.

                                     MARTY
                         Hey look guys, here comes Captain 
                         America.

               Harvey rolls his eyes.

                                     PAHLS
                              (yelling out)
                         You gonna hang with the boys now 
                         that yer a comic book star?

               Harvey turns red. He's embarrassed but part of him loves the 
               attention.

                                     HARVEY
                         Cut it out. Man, I ain't nothin' yet 
                         compared to Bob Crumb.

                                     GUY #3
                         Ah, listen to him. One lousy comic 
                         book and he wants to be Crumb.

               The GUYS laugh.

               ANGLE ON SILENT GUY

               A SILENT GUY crouches by the wall, reading his CLEVELAND 
               BROWNS trading cards.

                                     PAHLS
                         Hey Harvey, if ya wanna make comics 
                         for adults, ya oughtta put some dirty 
                         stuff in it.

                                     GUY #3
                         Yeah, you can write about Marty's 
                         sex life.

               Harvey hangs with the guys but he doesn't engage. He seems 
               to be observing them more than interacting with them.

                                     GUY #3
                         Right Marty? I heard ya went out 
                         with Bonnie yesterday.

                                     PAHLS
                         Yeah. Howdja do? Wudja git offa her?

                                     MARTY
                         Ah, lousy. All's I got wuz armaround.

               The guys all stare at him for a moment. Then they crack up.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. SOUND STAGE - PRESENT - DAY

               HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

               CLOSE UP:

               A COPY OF AMERICAN SPLENDOR #2: A FULL-COLOR CARTOON VERSION 
               OF THE ABOVE SCENE GRACES THE COVER.

               A MARTY LOOK-ALIKE is bombarded with questions about his 
               date with Bonnie. He complains that all he got was "arm-
               around." The REAL HARVEY holds the above comic book in his 
               hand. The stage is set with a few items that indicate a comic 
               book store. HARVEY talks about a couple of "American Splendor" 
               issues and how they impacted his life -- recognition as a 
               writer, etc. He gives his philosophy about the comic book, 
               etc. A MONTAGE OF AMERICAN SPLENDOR COVERS (ISSUE #3, #4, 
               #5, #6, ETC.) THEY INDICATE A PASSAGE OF TIME...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S CUBICLE - V.A. HOSPITAL - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY sits alone in his cubicle. He doodles stick figures 
               on a pad -- some ideas for a new comic. His posture's 
               miserable. He rubs his temples like he's in anguish.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Here's our man eight comics later, a 
                         brand new decade, same old bullshit. 
                         Yeah sure, he gets lots of recognition 
                         for his writin' now. Sure his comics 
                         are praised by all the important 
                         media types tellin' people what to 
                         think. But so what?  It's not like 
                         he makes a livin' at it like Bob 
                         Crumb. He can't go an' quit his day 
                         job or nothin'.

               JUMP CUT SEQUENCE

               Several shots of Harvey just thinking, scratching his face 
               with a pencil, tapping his foot nervously.

               Each shot is separated by a second or two of black (an homage 
               to Harvey's wordless panels). Finally, he goes back to 
               writing.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Who am I kiddin'. Truth is I'd be 
                         lost without my work routine.

                                                              FLASH CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               Alone in bed, Harvey wakes up in a cold sweat from a 
               nightmare. He looks horrified, short of breath.

                                     HARVEY
                              (calming himself down)
                         I got a job... I got a job...

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S CUBICLE - V.A. HOSPITAL - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY scratches his head.

               CLOSE UP ON HIS DOODLING

               Harvey writes "I got a job" in a balloon over the stick 
               figure's head.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         So -- to stave off desperation and 
                         feelings of uselessness -- I resigned 
                         myself to a menial existence. But 
                         hey, maybe the guy who's had a happy 
                         life feels worse just before he dies 
                         than th' guy who had a sad one. Or, 
                         maybe not. I dunno. Maybe I just 
                         needed a woman.

               Toby comes in, decked out in plaid and stripes. He has an 
               empty messenger bag.

                                     TOBY
                         Hi, Harvey. Do you want these gourmet 
                         jelly beans? I gave up sweets for 
                         lent.

               Harvey turns around. He seems down, depressed.

                                     HARVEY
                         Huh? Sure, I'll take 'em.

               Toby watches Harvey eat a few.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey, watermelon. That's pretty good.

                                     TOBY
                         I recommend the pi�a coladas. They 
                         are excellent and very authentic 
                         tasting.

               Toby heads down a file row and proceeds to take a few off 
               the shelves, stuffing his bag. Harvey gets up and comes after 
               him.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey Toby, can you eat lentils during 
                         lent?

                                     TOBY
                         Sure. I don't see why not. You can't 
                         eat meat on certain days, but lentils 
                         should be acceptable anytime.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ya think there's any connection 
                         between lentils and lent?

                                     TOBY
                         I don't think so but I'll ask Sister 
                         Mary Fred at church on Sunday.

                                     HARVEY
                         Sister Mary Fred, huh? Is she cute? 
                         Sounds kinda mannish but who am I to 
                         be picky.

                                     TOBY
                         Harvey, you're funny. She's a nun.

                                     HARVEY
                         So what? Maybe she became a nun 
                         because she couldn't get a guy.

                                     TOBY
                         Harvey, she became a nun because she 
                         had a higher calling.

                                     HARVEY
                         Higher calling. That is such a crock 
                         of shit. I don't know why you waste 
                         your time prayin' anyway.

                                     TOBY
                         Well, Harvey, I like the ritual. And 
                         I'm a very spiritual person. You 
                         know, you should try believing in 
                         something bigger than yourself. It 
                         might cheer you up.

               Toby turns on his heels and walks off.

                                     HARVEY
                              (calling after him)
                         What? Do I seem depressed, Toby?

               Toby doesn't respond.

               Harvey shrugs and digs deep into the jelly bean bag. He pulls 
               out a fistful.

               CLOSE ON HARVEY'S HAND

               Jellybeans in every imaginable color. Harvey fingers a few 
               and then picks a blue one.

                                     BOB THE DIRECTOR (V.O.)
                         Cut!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL "SET" - PRESENT - DAY

               HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

               A few items from the previous scene are present on the sound 
               stage indicating that it's a set of AMERICAN SPLENDOR -- The 
               Movie.

               THE ACTOR HARVEY stands alone, his hand filled with Jelly 
               beans.

                                     BOB THE DIRECTOR
                         Okay, that was great. The bakery 
                         scene is next...

               ACTOR HARVEY steps out of the frame, revealing a craft service 
               table behind him. At the table, the REAL HARVEY and the REAL 
               TOBY load up on donuts. The two discuss the food on the set.

               Ironically, the Real Toby is actually more extreme than the 
               Actor who plays him -- even more robotic, and completely 
               incapable of eye-contact.

               The REAL TOBY discusses the finer points of nerdom and 
               evaluates the Actor's nerd quotient. The Real Harvey explains 
               to Actor Toby that nothing -- not even gourmet jelly beans -- 
               would have cheered him up at that point in his life.

               He was too lonely and depressed.

               END HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - MORNING

               Light pours through the curtained window.

               Naked and disheveled, HARVEY tosses and turns in bed.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         My loneliness was unbearable, man. 
                         Weekends were the worst. Sometimes 
                         in my sleep, I'd feel a body next to 
                         me like an amputee feels a phantom 
                         limb.

               EXT. PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE -- DAY

               Extreme wide shot: a city-street overpass spans across the 
               entire frame. The lone figure of Harvey sulks there in the 
               middle, watching traffic pass below.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Sure my comics were bringin' me 
                         notoriety, but my personal life was 
                         in shambles. I thought a little 
                         attention would make me feel better. 
                         It only made me feel worse.

                                                                   CUT TO: 

               EXT. BAKERY SIDE STREET - SPRING - 1980'S - MORNING

               It is a beautiful, sunny day. The trees are in bloom.

               There's the first scent of spring in the air. Kids play in 
               the street. Music pours out of passing cars. Everyone seems 
               to have a smile on his or her face except HARVEY. He walks 
               on the shadowy side of the street.

               EXT. BAKERY STREET - SPRING

               Establishing shot of HARVEY trudging into the bakery.

               INT. BAKERY - SPRING - 1980'S - MORNING

               A couple of WOMEN order bread and cookies from TWO COUNTER 
               GIRLS.

               HARVEY surveys the donuts.

                                     COUNTER GIRL #1
                              (yelling to Harvey)
                         Next!

                                     HARVEY
                              (to the Counter Girl)
                         Yeah! I'll have two crullers, a jelly 
                         donut with powdered sugar... And you 
                         got any "day old bread"?

               A woman with attractive Irish looks brushes past Harvey on 
               her way to the door. This is ALICE QUINN, roughly Harvey's 
               age but there is a tired, weary look in her eyes.

                                     ALICE
                         Hey, you're Harvey Pekar.

               Half in a daze, Harvey stares at the chick.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah...

                                     ALICE
                         Alice Quinn. From school.

               Harvey studies her face. Suddenly, it clicks.

                                     HARVEY
                         Oh yeah. College. We had a couple 
                         lit classes together.

               Harvey pays and receives his items. They step back towards 
               the door.

                                     ALICE
                         What happened to you? You just 
                         disappeared after one semester.

               Harvey scratches his armpit.

                                     HARVEY
                         I know, man. I got good grades and 
                         all but there was this required math 
                         class. I can't do math, an' that 
                         required class hangin' over my head 
                         made me crazy. Eventually the pressure 
                         got to be too much.

                                     ALICE
                         Well, you're doing okay anyway. I 
                         heard all about your jazz reviews 
                         and your comics.

               This perks Harvey up.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ya did?

                                     ALICE
                         Sure, you're famous. Meanwhile I got 
                         my degree but I'm just a plain old 
                         wife and mother.

               Harvey stares at her wedding ring. His face drops.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah. I'm not doing as great as ya 
                         think. My second wife divorced me 
                         and I work at a dead end job as a 
                         file clerk. Sometimes I hang out 
                         with the guys on the corner but most 
                         of the time I just stay home by myself 
                         and read.

               Alice laughs.

                                     ALICE
                         You're luckier than you think. My 
                         husband and kids make it impossible 
                         for me to cuddle up with a good book.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. BAKERY - SPRING - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and ALICE continue their conversation as they stroll 
               towards her car.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm reading this book by Dreiser now -- 
                         JENNIE GERHARDT.

                                     ALICE
                         That's one of my favorites.

                                     HARVEY
                         I hope it don't end like so many a' 
                         those naturalist novels... With 
                         someone getting crushed ta earth by 
                         forces he can't control.

               Alice smiles.

                                     ALICE
                         I think you'll be pleasantly 
                         surprised. It's certainly not a 
                         Hollywood happy ending, but it's 
                         pretty truthful. Which is rare these 
                         days...

               This hits home with Harvey. He can't believe he's made such 
               a connection with this woman.

               Alice stops in front of a beat-up station wagon.

                                     ALICE
                         This is me.

                                     HARVEY
                         Nice car. I don't have one yet.

                                     ALICE
                         Can I give ya a lift somewhere?

                                     HARVEY
                         Nah. It's a nice day. I'll just walk.

               Harvey looks down, a little sad.

                                     ALICE
                         Well, we should have you over sometime 
                         for dinner.

                                     HARVEY
                         Sure, I'd be glad t'come. But if you 
                         really wanna do me a favor, introduce 
                         me to some a' your single girlfriends. 
                         I bet they're all smart like you. 
                         I'm no catch, though, so I'll take 
                         anything you can get me.

               Alice pecks Harvey on the cheek.

                                     ALICE
                         I'll work on it.

               She gets into the car.

                                     ALICE
                         Nice seeing ya Harvey.

               Harvey watches as she drives off.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         When I got home, I finished reading 
                         JENNIE GERHARDT. It was real good, 
                         way better than I expected. That 
                         Alice wuz right.

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - SPRING - 1980'S - NIGHT

               The room is moody, dark and lonely. The shadowy figure of 
               Harvey sits on the floor devouring JENNIE GERHARDT.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Sure Lester -- the main character -- 
                         croaks in the end, but at least he's 
                         old and dies a natural dignified 
                         death.

               THE CAMERA TRAVELS AROUND THE ROOM TO FIND: Harvey again, 
               now silhouetted in the door frame, still clutching the book 
               and obsessed by his thoughts.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I was more alone that weekend than 
                         any. All I did was think about JENNIE 
                         GERHARDT an' Alice Quinn an' all the 
                         decades of people I have known.

               THE CAMERA TRAVELS AGAIN TO FIND Harvey sitting on a chair 
               in the corner of his room. His head is bowed. His shoulders 
               slump over, as if he's struggling with something weighty.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         The more I thought, the more I felt 
                         like cryin'; Life seemed so sweet 
                         an' so sad an' so hard t'let go of 
                         in the end.

               THE CAMERA TRAVELS A FINAL TIME TO FIND: Harvey sprawled 
               across his couch. But he's not asleep; he's still obsessing. 
               The book lies on his chest like a lover.

               CLOSE UP of Harvey's troubled face. Beneath the pain, we see 
               hope and determination.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         But hey, man. Every day's a brand 
                         new deal, right? Just keep on workin' 
                         and sump'n's bound ta turn up.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. COSMIC COMICS STORE - DELAWARE - 1980'S - DAY

               An urban comic book shop on a dicey but bohemian street. A 
               title over picture reads, "MEANWHILE, IN DELAWARE."

               INT. COSMIC COMICS STORE - 1980'S - DAY

               JOYCE BRABNER, a depressive nudge with a perpetually peptic 
               expression frantically searches the store for something. Her 
               partner, a granola type named RAND, finishes unloading a 
               stack on the shelf.

                                     JOYCE
                         What happened to the new American 
                         Splendor?

                                     RAND
                         We sold 'em, babe.

                                     JOYCE
                         All of them?

                                     RAND
                         Yep.

                                     JOYCE
                              (accusatory)
                         Damn it! I put one aside for myself, 
                         next to the register. I didn't even 
                         get a chance to read it.

                                     RAND
                         Whoa, sorry, Joyce. I didn't know 
                         you were such a Splendor fan. Next 
                         time take it home.

               Joyce leans against the counter. She pushes up her glasses 
               and looks really upset.

                                     JOYCE
                         Maybe I'll call the publisher. But 
                         they take so damn long. Shit! Why 
                         does everything in my life have to 
                         be such a complicated disaster...

               Joyce starts slamming things around the store. Finally Rand 
               grabs his stuff.

                                     RAND
                         Okay, I'm gonna hustle before the 
                         vibe in here gets any worse.

               Rand leaves. Joyce barely notices, still brewing.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               The mess in this room rivals Harvey's. A few cats add to the 
               clutter. Joyce lies on her disheveled bed and writes a letter.

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         Greetings from the second smallest 
                         state in the union, an endless 
                         plastics and nylon plantation 
                         controlled by giant chemical 
                         corporations.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - VESTIBULE - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY takes his mail out of the box. He finds an oddly 
               decorated envelope.

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         To make matters more dismal, there 
                         are no decent comic book stores in 
                         my town, which is why my partner and 
                         I opened one ourselves.

               INT. HARVEY'S BATHROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY finishes reading the letter sitting on the toilet. A 
               cat runs around him.

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         Despite our steadily faltering 
                         business, my partner managed to sell 
                         the last copy of American Splendor 
                         #8 out from under me. I'm a big fan 
                         and I hate to wait for a new order. 
                         Is there any way I can get it from 
                         you direct? Sincerely, Joyce Brabner.

               Harvey scratches his head. He mutters to himself.

                                     HARVEY
                         ...man, she's got good lookin' 
                         handwritin'...

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               BEGIN MONTAGE -- HARVEY AND JOYCE COMMUNICATING

               We see Harvey in his bed writing.

                                     HARVEY
                         Dear Joyce, Thanks for the letter. 
                         Whattya do besides sellin' comics?

               THE SCREEN SPLITS TO ACCOMMODATE:

               INT. DELAWARE PRISON CLASSROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               We see Joyce standing in front of a GROUP OF PRISONERS.

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         I'm a sometime activist and I teach 
                         writing to prisoners. I try to help 
                         them build an interior life and make 
                         art out of their monotonous, 
                         suffocating routine.

               THE SCREEN GIVES WAY TO ANOTHER FRAME

               INT. BUS - 1980'S - DAY

               Harvey scribbles a letter while riding on the bus.

                                     HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Sounds familiar. So you married or 
                         what?

               INT. JOYCE'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               Joyce empties her can of cat food in a plate and slides it 
               towards her kitty.

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         I'm divorced, thank god.

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - EVENING

               Now we see Harvey (full screen) in bed in his underwear 
               talking on the PHONE. He's clipping his toe nails.

                                     HARVEY
                         Look, I think you an' I got a lot in 
                         common. How am I gonna get you to 
                         come visit me in Cleveland?

                                     JOYCE (V.O.)
                         Cleveland? You think that's a good 
                         idea?

                                     HARVEY
                         It's a great idea. You should meet 
                         me, 'cause I'm a great guy. Despite 
                         the way my comics read, I got a lot 
                         of redeeming characteristics.

               CLIP! He clips off a big one.

               THE SCREEN SPLITS TO REVEAL

               INT. JOYCE'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - NIGHT

               Joyce sits on her equally disheveled bed dunking a tea bag.

               Her hair is wet from a shower.

                                     JOYCE
                         I don't know. Where would I stay?

                                     HARVEY (V.O.)
                         With me. Don't worry, I'm not gonna 
                         put no moves on you or anything.

                                     JOYCE
                         I'm not worried about that...
                              (fumbling with a tea 
                              cup)
                         Hold on, I just spilled chamomile 
                         tea all over my bathrobe.

                                     HARVEY (V.O.)
                         So what are ya worried about then?

               Joyce sighs and lies down. A variety of AMERICAN SPLENDORS 
               are across her bed. Different interpretations of Harvey stare 
               up at her.

                                     JOYCE
                              (sipping)
                         Well, the way all those different 
                         artists draw you, I don't quite know 
                         what to expect. I mean sometimes you 
                         look like a younger Brando, but then 
                         the way Crumb draws you -- like a 
                         hairy ape with all those stinky, 
                         wavy lines radiating off your body -- 
                         it's kind of scary.

                                     HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Those are motion lines. I'm an active 
                         guy. Anyway, just come out here an' 
                         I'll try to be anyone you want me ta 
                         be.

               Joyce smiles for the first time.

                                     JOYCE
                         That's a dangerous offer. I'm a 
                         notorious reformer...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. AIRPORT - ARRIVALS GATE - 1980'S - DAY

               A nervous JOYCE walks off the plane into the arrivals area.

               She scans the crowd of friends, family, lovers and limo 
               drivers waiting to meet the disembarking passengers. Where 
               is Harvey? What will he look like?

               As Joyce surveys the unfamiliar faces, she imagines different 
               versions of an animated, illustrated Harvey among the people.

               She double-takes as sees the R. CRUMB HARVEY -- hairy, scary, 
               smelly and picking his nose. Joyce rubs her eyes.

               Next she sees the BRANDO HARVEY (Gary Dumm), but unfortunately 
               he disappears fast.

               Disappointed, Joyce notices the realistic DREW FRIEDMAN HARVEY 
               walking towards her. She smiles as he dissolves into:

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         Hey. Are you Joyce?

               Joyce turns around. The flesh and blood HARVEY PEKAR stands 
               before her -- not quite as bad as the Crumb version, not 
               quite as good as the Dumm version, but still acceptable. She 
               sighs with relief.

                                     JOYCE
                         Hi, Harvey. We finally meet in person.

               She politely offers her hand. Harvey shakes it, but he looks 
               overwhelmed, worried and pessimistic.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hiya. Look, before we get started 
                         with any of this, ya might as well 
                         know right off the bat. I had a 
                         vasectomy.

               Joyce lets go of his hand. She stares at him in disbelief.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. TGIF STYLE RESTAURANT - 1980'S - NIGHT

               The most awkward date in history. Seated in an ultra-yuppie 
               restaurant filled with business lunchers, Harvey and Joyce 
               hide behind their menus. While everyone else looks slick and 
               successful, these two compete for the world's worst posture. 

                                     HARVEY
                         What's wrong?

                                     JOYCE
                         Nothing.

                                     HARVEY
                         Somethin's wrong. Yer lookin' around 
                         everywhere.

                                     JOYCE
                         I guess I never imagined you eating 
                         in a place like this.

                                     HARVEY
                         Me? I never been here. I thought 
                         you'd like it. But obviously ya don't, 
                         do ya?

                                     JOYCE
                         It's fine. What difference does it 
                         make?

               Harvey shakes his head, feeling more pessimistic.

                                     HARVEY
                         I dunno. None, I guess.
                              (beat)
                         They sure got a lot of meat on this 
                         menu.

                                     JOYCE
                         You're a vegetarian?

                                     HARVEY
                         Kinda. I mean ever since I got a pet 
                         cat, I couldn't eat animals anymore.

               Joyce grabs a bread stick.

                                     JOYCE
                         Hmm. I support and identify with 
                         groups like PETA, but unfortunately 
                         I'm a self-diagnosed anemic. Also, I 
                         have all these food allergies to 
                         vegetables that give me serious 
                         intestinal distress. I guess I have 
                         a lot of borderline health disorders 
                         that limit me politically when it 
                         comes to eating.

               Harvey just stares at her.

                                     HARVEY
                         Wow. Yer a sick woman, huh?

                                     JOYCE
                         Not yet. But I expect to be. Everyone 
                         in my family's got some kind of 
                         degenerative illness.

               A cheery waitress bounces over.

                                     WAITRESS
                              (sing song)
                         Good afternoon! I'm your server Cindy! 
                         What can I bring you two today?

               They slowly look up at her.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - NIGHT

               JOYCE and HARVEY enter the apartment. The place is a mess, 
               as usual.

                                     HARVEY
                         Look, I was gonna clean up, but why 
                         should I give you any false notions? 
                         The truth is I got a serious problem 
                         with cleanliness. I could wash a 
                         dish ten times and it'd still dirty. 
                         They even kicked me outta the Army 
                         'cause I couldn't learn ta make a 
                         bed.

               Joyce puts down her bag.

                                     JOYCE
                         I've seen worse.

               She slumps down on the sofa as if she's been here a million 
               times. She rubs her head. Harvey sits next to her.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, go get me water and a few 
                         aspirin.

               Harvey just bounces back up and obeys.

                                     HARVEY
                         What, ya got a headache?

                                     JOYCE
                         No, but I want to avoid one.

               Harvey empties the aspirin bottle in his palm. For some 
               reason, he's feeling more comfortable.

                                     HARVEY
                         Well lemme tell ya Joyce, it sure is 
                         nice ta have company. I mean, despite 
                         all your problems, you seem like a 
                         great person. An' hey, sorry if my 
                         dating skills are kinda rusty, but 
                         I've just been through hell and back 
                         with women. I mean that last one 
                         turned out to be a real nasty bitch.

               Harvey arrives back with the aspirin. He hands it to Joyce.

                                     JOYCE
                         I had a nice time with you, too.

               Joyce swallows the pill. Harvey sits down next to her.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah? You had a nice time?

                                     JOYCE
                         Don't make people repeat themselves. 
                         It's annoying.

                                     HARVEY
                         Oh, sorry.

               They're inches away from each other.

                                     JOYCE
                         C'mere...

               She pulls him close. Harvey plants a kiss on her.

               They slowly separate. Joyce's eyes are closed. She likes 
               him. He kisses her again. They start making out, moaning a 
               bit.

               But before it gets heavy --

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey?

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah?

               Joyce opens her eyes. She looks uneasy.

                                     JOYCE
                         Which door's the bathroom?

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM DOOR - 1980'S - DAY

               Harvey stands by the bathroom door, despondent. From inside 
               we hear the sounds of moaning and flushing.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey, Joyce! What's wrong? What is 
                         it?

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BATHROOM - DAY

               FLUSH! Joyce is doubled over on the toilet. She's looking 
               green.

                                     JOYCE
                         Ugh! I don't know. I think that yuppie 
                         food did me in.

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM DOOR - DAY

               OUTSIDE THE DOOR

                                     HARVEY
                         I feel terrible. Lemme at least do 
                         something for you.

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BATHROOM - DAY

               Joyce gets to her feet and puts her glasses back on. She 
               picks up a can and sprays air freshener around the room.

               Then she looks at the can and realizes it's WD-40.

                                     HARVEY
                         Can I make ya something? How about 
                         some chamomile tea?

               Joyce puts the can down.

                                     JOYCE
                         Chamomile tea? What the hell's a guy 
                         like you doing with that? I thought 
                         you drink soda pop for breakfast.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         I dunno. I noticed you drank a lot 
                         of it when we started talkin' on the 
                         phone. So I stocked up on herbal 
                         teas for your visit.

               Joyce turns her head to the door. She's truly surprised by 
               what Harvey's just said. And very moved. She smiles to 
               herself.

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM DOOR - DAY

               Harvey stands there waiting.

                                     HARVEY
                         The girl at the Food Co-op picked me 
                         out all kinds of herbal stuff. One 
                         of 'ems good for stomachaches. Grandma 
                         Bear's Tummy Mint, I think. Are you 
                         still there?

               Joyce slowly opens the door. She leans against the door frame 
               like she's just been through a war.

               She takes off her glasses and cleans them off with her shirt.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, we better skip this whole 
                         courtship thing and just get married.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               Harvey and Joyce are in bed, lying in each other's arms.

               They look quite contented.

                                     HARVEY
                         Man, am I glad I talked you into 
                         comin' up here. Any more time alone 
                         and I mighta lost it fer good.

                                     JOYCE
                         Me too.

                                     HARVEY
                         So you don't have any problems with 
                         movin' to Cleveland?

                                     JOYCE
                         Not really. I find most American 
                         cities depressing in the same way.

                                     HARVEY
                         An' yer okay with the vasectomy thing?

               She shrugs.

               EXT. PARKING LOT - V.A. HOSPITAL - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY approaches the building. Instead of dragging his feet 
               like usual, he seems to be floating on a cloud. We haven't 
               seen Harvey this happy since... well, since never.

               He stops by a junker car and peeks in the window, finding 
               TOBY eating lunch alone. He has an entire White Castle 
               smorgasbord spread across the front seat.

               Harvey knocks on the window. Toby rolls it down.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ay Toby.

                                     TOBY
                              (mouth full)
                         No you can't have any of my White 
                         Castle hamburgers so please don't 
                         even ask.

                                     HARVEY
                         Can I have a fry?

               Harvey reaches for a handful of Toby's fries.

                                     TOBY
                         Okay, but just a couple, Harvey. I'm 
                         not going to eat dinner until very 
                         late and this has got to hold me 
                         over.

               Harvey leans in, always amused by Toby. He steals another 
               fry.

                                     HARVEY
                              (munching)
                         Whattya got, a church function?

                                     TOBY
                         No, I'm driving to Toledo to see a 
                         movie. Would you like to come?

                                     HARVEY
                         Nah. I gotta fly to Delaware tonight. 
                         I'm gettin' married.

                                     TOBY
                         Oh. Why Delaware?

                                     HARVEY
                         The chick I'm marryin' is from 
                         Wilmington. Plus, I gotta help her 
                         move her stuff here.
                              (a beat)
                         Why you drivin' ta Toledo to see a 
                         movie?

                                     TOBY
                         It's not playing at the Mapletown.
                              (a beat)
                         I didn't know you had a girlfriend, 
                         Harvey.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah. We met last week.

               Harvey opens the car door and slides in with Toby.

                                     HARVEY
                         Toby, what movie could possibly be 
                         worth drivin' 260 miles round trip 
                         for?

                                     TOBY
                         It's a new film called "Revenge of 
                         the Nerds." It's about a group of 
                         nerd college students who are being 
                         picked on all the time by the jocks, 
                         so they decide to take revenge. I 
                         already saw it once.

                                     HARVEY
                         Wow, ya really dig this movie.

                                     TOBY
                         I like it a lot, Harvey.

                                     HARVEY
                         What are these nerds like? How would 
                         you describe them?

                                     TOBY
                         Hmm... Nerds are smart but they look 
                         and act differently than other people. 
                         Like nerds might wear polyester button-
                         down shirts and flood pants where 
                         their ankles and their socks are 
                         showing.

               Toby spills some catsup on his polyester button-down shirt.

               He stands up to get a napkin, revealing his flood pants.

                                     HARVEY
                         So what yer sayin' is you identify 
                         with those nerds?

                                     TOBY
                              (rubbing out the catsup)
                         Yes, I consider myself a nerd. And 
                         this movie has uplifted me. There's 
                         this one scene where a nerd grabs 
                         the microphone during a pep rally 
                         and announces that he is a nerd and 
                         that he is proud of it and stands up 
                         for the rights of other nerds. Then, 
                         he asks the kids at the pep rally 
                         who think they are nerds to come 
                         forward... So nearly everyone in the 
                         place does. That's the way the movie 
                         ends.

                                     HARVEY
                         So the nerds won, huh?

                                     TOBY
                              (smiling)
                         Yes.

               Harvey grabs the rest of Toby's fries and opens the door to 
               leave.

                                     HARVEY
                         Wow. You got this movie an' I'm 
                         gettin' hitched. We both had a good 
                         month, huh?

                                     TOBY
                              (finishing his last 
                              burger)
                         Right. Harvey, how long are you going 
                         to be in Delaware because I'd really 
                         like to see this movie with you?

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm only goin' for a week but then 
                         I'll have a wife, so I'll have to 
                         take her along. Is it a girl flick?

                                     TOBY
                         Depends on the girl. What kind of 
                         girl is your new bride? Is she a 
                         nerd?

                                     HARVEY
                         I don't know, man. Maybe. She's into 
                         herbal teas.

               Toby watches Harvey saunter off. He returns to his last 
               hamburger.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. MOVIE THEATER - 1980'S - NIGHT

               A brightly lit marquee reads, "REVENGE OF THE NERDS." The 
               doors to the theater open and a crowd pours onto the street.

               HARVEY, JOYCE and TOBY are among them. Toby proudly wears a 
               "Genuine Nerd" button on his striped shirt.

                                     JOYCE
                         I agree with Toby. I think it's a 
                         story of hope and tolerance.

                                     TOBY
                         Yes. It's about time that the people 
                         who get picked on get to be the 
                         heroes.

               Harvey scrunches his face in disbelief.

                                     HARVEY
                         It's an entertaining flick an' I can 
                         see why you like it Toby, but those 
                         people on the screen ain't even 
                         supposed to be you! They're college 
                         students whose parents live in big 
                         houses in the suburbs. They're gonna 
                         get degrees, get good jobs and stop 
                         being nerds.

               Joyce hits Harvey.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, what did I say about loud 
                         talking? Use your inside voice.

                                     HARVEY
                              (whispering loudly)
                         Look Toby, the guys in that movie 
                         are not 28-year-old file clerks who 
                         live with their grandmothers in an 
                         ethnic ghetto.

                                     JOYCE
                         That's enough, Harvey.

                                     HARVEY
                         They didn't get their computers like 
                         you did -- by trading in a bunch of 
                         box tops and $49.50 at the 
                         supermarket.

               Joyce folds her arms in disapproval. Toby starts to laugh.

                                     TOBY
                         You're funny Harvey.

               Harvey looks at him, disappointed. He shakes his head.

                                     HARVEY
                         Sure, Toby. Go to the movies and 
                         daydream, but "Revenge of the Nerds" 
                         ain't reality. It's just Hollywood 
                         bullshit.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. TOBY'S CAR -- A FEW MOMENTS LATER

               ANGLE ON TOBY'S CAR (THROUGH WINDSHIELD)

               Toby and Joyce continue to analyze the movie in the front 
               seat as Toby starts the ignition.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. TOBY'S CAR

               ANGLE ON HARVEY IN BACK SEAT

               Slouched, grumpy and alone on the back seat, Harvey's still 
               annoyed by the movie.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Okay, maybe I was bein' so harsh on 
                         Toby onna count a' my own problems.

                                     REAL HARVEY
                         Y'see, I wasn't even married a month 
                         and my old lady was already showin' 
                         signs a' trouble. Granted, I tend ta 
                         get married fast 'cause I'll take 
                         any woman that'll have me, but this 
                         time I really met my match...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. REHEARSAL STUDIO - PRESENT - DAY

               HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

               A few items indicating film production are in the frame.

               At a table in the foreground, BOB THE DIRECTOR discusses the 
               character of Joyce with the ACTRESS playing her. The actress 
               just nods as the director goes on.

               We can see THE REAL JOYCE sitting with THE REAL HARVEY in 
               the distance.

                                     DIRECTOR
                         Okay, I think the thing with Joyce 
                         is that as manic as Harvey can be, 
                         she matches him with depression. In 
                         that way they complete each other. I 
                         mean, she's obviously a very smart 
                         woman, but she has a lot of trouble 
                         functioning in a world she can't 
                         control. And she's totally obsessed 
                         with all things negative; y'know, 
                         diseases, dysfuctions, etc.

               THE REAL JOYCE and REAL HARVEY listen curiously -- sometimes 
               pleased, sometimes displeased -- as their personalities are 
               dissected and boiled down to a few phrases.

               CLOSER SHOT OF REAL JOYCE AND HARVEY

               The REAL JOYCE puts in her two cents about the actress playing 
               her. She rants about what it's like to be portrayed in a 
               movie, and having a character arc imposed on her life.

               She moves into talking about her relationship with Harvey, 
               and the first years of their marriage -- how impossible it 
               was to live with him.

               The REAL HARVEY just rolls his eyes.

               END HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               JOYCE is on a cleaning rampage. She rummages through piles 
               upon piles of records while HARVEY paces nervously.

                                     JOYCE
                         What about these 78's, Harvey? Can't 
                         you sell them to one of those 
                         collectors?

                                     HARVEY
                         Are ya kidding? No way, man. I ain't 
                         getting rid of my 78's.

               Joyce throws down the records in frustration. Harvey runs 
               over to check if they're scratched.

                                     JOYCE
                              (angry)
                         Forget it then. I give up! How can I 
                         make more storage space, if you won't 
                         get rid of anything?

                                     HARVEY
                         I'll get rid of stuff. Just not my 
                         good stuff.

                                     JOYCE
                         Everything's your good stuff. How am 
                         I supposed to live here, if there's 
                         no room for me?

                                     HARVEY
                         Aw come on, baby. I'll make room for 
                         ya. You just have to give me time. 
                         I'm not so good at these kind of 
                         things.

                                     JOYCE
                         That's because you're obsessive 
                         compulsive Harvey.

               A DOOR BUZZER rings. Harvey slams it to unlock the front.

                                     HARVEY
                         C'mon. I don't wanna hear that 
                         psychobabble crap!

                                     JOYCE
                         I don't care if you wanna hear it or 
                         not. You're the poster child for the 
                         DSM III. I'll have you know that I 
                         come from a very dysfunctional family. 
                         I can spot personality disorders a 
                         mile away...

               A KNOCK ON THE DOOR interrupts their argument. Joyce storms 
               away to answer it.

               ANGLE ON THE DOOR:

               Joyce opens it to face a smiling TOBY -- dressed as usual in 
               a loud polyester fashion don't. He talks in his strange 
               robotic voice and avoids all eye contact.

                                     TOBY
                         Hello Joyce. Is Harvey home?

               Joyce turns to Harvey and points to Toby.

                                     JOYCE
                         Borderline autistic!

               This scene shrinks into a square up in the corner. The next 
               few scenes (NEUROSIS MONTAGE) further divide up the full 
               screen like a comic book.

               INT. CLEVELAND COMIC BOOK STORE - 1980'S - DAY

               R. CRUMB leaps from behind an autograph table (where he's 
               signing comics) to hop on the back of ZAFTIG BABE, who offers 
               him a piggy-back ride.

               Joyce turns to Harvey.

                                     JOYCE
                         Polymorphously Perverse.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. PARKING LOT - V.A. HOSPITAL - 1980'S - DAY

               JOYCE picks up Harvey from work. HARVEY enters the car, waving 
               goodbye to the ranting MR. BOATS.

               She points to Mr. Boats.

                                     JOYCE
                         Paranoid Personality Disorder.

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               THE TELEPHONE RINGS. A disheveled, tired-looking JOYCE flips 
               through a novel and lets the machine pick up.

                                     ANSWERING MACHINE
                         Please leave a message.
                              (Beep)
                          

                                     HARVEY
                              (into phone)
                         Hey Joyce, it's me. You're not gonna 
                         believe this but some LA producer 
                         called an' he wants to do a play 
                         about my life. Call me!
                              (Click)

               Joyce flips the page.

                                     JOYCE
                              (to herself)
                         Delusions of grandeur.

               END NEUROSIS MONTAGE (return to full screen)

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. THEATER - 1980'S - EVENING

               HARVEY and JOYCE sit in a packed theater watching a play.

               Joyce looks exhausted.

               ANGLE ON STAGE

               A STAGE ACTOR HARVEY and a STAGE ACTOR JOYCE share a couch 
               on the sparse stage.

                                     STAGE ACTOR HARVEY
                         See, I think comics can be an art 
                         form. With pictures an' words, a guy 
                         can do pretty much anything!

                                     STAGE ACTOR JOYCE
                         That's true, Harvey. But I didn't 
                         come all the way from Delaware to 
                         talk about comics ...

               The "Stage Actor Joyce" lunges over and plants a kiss on 
               him.

               ANGLE ON HARVEY AND JOYCE IN AUDIENCE

               Harvey digs it but Joyce looks disgusted.

               BACK TO STAGE

               We now see STAGE ACTOR HARVEY clutching a tea cup, as STAGE 
               ACTOR JOYCE kneels before a toilet bowl. Off to the side of 
               the stage, A SPOT LIGHT illuminates a GUITAR PLAYER, who 
               adds music to the scene.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. AIRPORT - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and JOYCE walk through the terminal. Harvey brims 
               with energy but Joyce looks exhausted.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         If ya think readin' comics about yer 
                         life seems strange, try watchin' a 
                         play about it. God only knows how 
                         I'll feel when I see this movie. But 
                         truth be told, the play wasn't half 
                         bad, and we got a free trip outta 
                         it. Things were goin' pretty good 
                         for a change. Variety called me "The 
                         Blue Collar Mark Twain," and Doubleday 
                         was interested in publishing an 
                         anthology of "American Splendor." 

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. AIRPORT - BAGGAGE CLAIM - 1980'S - DAY

               Harvey nervously taps his foot as he waits for the bags.

               Joyce leans against the carousel staring at a YOUNG MOTHER 
               with a BABY in a Bjorn.

                                     HARVEY
                         I hate checkin' bags, man. It always 
                         takes forever.

               He checks his watch. Joyce remains quiet and distant.

                                     HARVEY
                         Jesus, look at the time. The bus is 
                         gonna leave soon and there won't be 
                         another one for an hour. That means 
                         I gotta shell out an extra thirty 
                         bucks for a cab.

               Harvey spots a bag that he thinks is his.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey wait, there's our --
                              (a well-dressed man 
                              grabs it)
                         Figures. That lucky Yuppie's gonna 
                         get on the bus in time.

               Suddenly, Joyce mumbles something to Harvey.

                                     JOYCE
                         Y'know Harvey, vasectomies are 
                         reversible.

                                     HARVEY
                              (ignoring her)
                         Damn Yuppies get everything.

                                     JOYCE
                              (raising her voice)
                         Are you listening to me? I said 
                         vasectomies are reversible.

               Heads turn.

                                     HARVEY
                         What? Whattya talkin' about? I don't 
                         want kids. An' I came clean about my 
                         vasectomy the first time I set eyes 
                         on ya', right here in this airport.

               More heads turn.

                                     JOYCE
                         I know but things have changed. I 
                         think we can be a family.

                                     HARVEY
                         Family?! What kinda family could we 
                         possibly be? I ain't no good with 
                         kids. I can barely take care of 
                         myself.

                                     JOYCE
                         I'll take care of the kid and you.

                                     HARVEY
                              (dead serious)
                         No way Joyce. Forget it. I can't do 
                         it; I can't have no kids.

               Joyce folds her arms... dejected, defeated. The audience of 
               eavesdroppers looks disappointed as well.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               If the place was a disaster before, believe it or not, it's 
               gotten worse. JOYCE seems to have given up on her 
               organizing... and everything else for that matter.

               HARVEY hysterically searches through the mess for a record 
               album. Joyce just lies listlessly on an open futon on the 
               middle of the room; it looks as if she hasn't been up in 
               days.

                                     HARVEY
                         Where the hell is that Ornette Coleman 
                         album, Joyce? I got a review due 
                         tomorrow.

               Joyce rolls over.

                                     JOYCE
                         I didn't touch it, Harvey. Would you 
                         let me sleep?

                                     HARVEY
                         But it's one o'clock! How late can a 
                         person sleep?

               Joyce sits up. This time she means business.

                                     JOYCE
                         It happens to be Saturday you selfish 
                         sonofabitch! And don't you go telling 
                         me what to do. I'm the one who moved 
                         into your city, into your home, into 
                         your vasectomy and into your screwed-
                         up life. The least you could do is 
                         allow me to live here my way.

               She rolls over and covers her head with the pillow. Harvey 
               just stands there staring at her.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. SUPERMARKET - 1980'S - DAY

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I tried everything but nothin' could 
                         get this woman outta bed.

               HARVEY peruses the aisles. He pulls box upon box of herbal 
               tea off the shelves.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I mean she wouldn't get a job, 
                         wouldn't go out, wouldn't make 
                         friends, nothin'.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY throws boxes of herbal teas at JOYCE as she sprawls 
               listlessly on the futon. She just yawns and turns over on 
               her side.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Joyce diagnosed herself as "clinically 
                         depressed." I don't know what the 
                         hell she was goin' through but it 
                         was sure takin' it's toll on me.

               A frustrated Harvey tries once more to cheer her up.

                                     HARVEY
                              (upbeat)
                         We can go out for dinner tonight. 
                         How 'bout catching a bite at Tommy's?

                                     JOYCE
                              (mumbling)
                         I'm not hungry.

               Harvey throws his hands in the air and walks off.

                                     HARVEY
                         I give up.

               As he passes the answering machine, he notices it's blinking.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey Joyce, we got a message here. 
                         Why didn't you pick up.

               Joyce doesn't respond.

                                     HARVEY
                         Useless.

               He presses the play button.

               ANGLE ON ANSWERING MACHINE: A loud "beep," then ...

                                     MALE VOICE
                         Hi, this is a message for Harvey 
                         Pekar. My name is Jonathan Greene 
                         and I'm a producer for LATE NIGHT 
                         WITH DAVID LETTERMAN. We'd like to 
                         talk to you about coming on the show 
                         to plug your comics. Please give me 
                         a call at 212-555-3333.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         What the hell?

               Joyce sits up. Harvey's finger hits the "Replay" button.

                                     MALE VOICE
                         Hi, this is a message for Harvey --

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. MANHATTAN SKYLINE - 1980'S - DAY

               ESTABLISHING SHOT

               The impressive skyline glistens in the spring sun.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Joyce finally got off the futon...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK - NEW YORK - 1980'S - DAY

               Armed with shopping bags from Bleecker Bob's Record Shop, 
               the Strand Book Store and Forbidden Planet Comic Book 
               Emporium, HARVEY and JOYCE eat lunch on a park bench. Harvey 
               chomps on a knish and watches oddball New Yorkers stroll by 
               as Joyce nibbles on her hot dog.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HOTEL HALLWAY -- DAY

               CLOSE UP ON AN ICE BUCKET

               Cut back to reveal Harvey, schlepping an ice bucket down a 
               hall in his underwear. A FEMALE BUSINESS TRAVELER passes and 
               stares at him. He enters a room with a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign.

               INT. NEW YORK HOTEL ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               The PEKARS have already wreaked havoc on their luxury hotel 
               room. It looks like a tornado touched down on the New York 
               Hilton.

               HARVEY tries on outfits for the big show. He pulls a wrinkled 
               T-shirt over his head and models it for JOYCE who is spread 
               out on the bed surrounded by piles of clothing, scissors and 
               sewing supplies. She glances up at Harvey's getup and shakes 
               her head no.

                                     HARVEY
                         Aw, c'mon. Who the hell cares?

               Harvey tosses his shirt over to Joyce, who snatches it and 
               starts cutting it with a scissor.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey, whattya doin?

                                     JOYCE
                         Merchandising.

               She resumes her mysterious sewing project; she seems to be 
               making some kind of doll.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               Backstage, JOYCE watches LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN on 
               a monitor as HARVEY awaits his turn to go on camera. He has 
               changed out of his wrinkled T-shirt into a slightly more 
               formal look -- a denim shirt and a ratty seersucker striped 
               jacket.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

               ANGLE ON MONITOR (NOTE: THIS IS ACTUAL STOCK FOOTAGE OF THE 
               SHOW)

               A 1980's DAVID LETTERMAN wisecracks.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               Neither Joyce nor Harvey look particularly impressed with 
               the whole deal.

                                     JOYCE
                         People like this show?

               Harvey paces.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm gettin' hungry back here. They 
                         oughtta leave ya donuts or somethin'.

               A nervous STAGE MANAGER wearing a headset peeks his head in.

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                         Dave's ready for you now, Mr. Pekar.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey, you got anything ta eat? My 
                         stomach's growling.

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                              (checking his watch)
                         There's no time to eat now.

               Harvey glances at the monitor just as Letterman announces 
               his next guest.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Okay. Our next guest works as a file 
                         clerk in a Cleveland hospital.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               The stage manager grabs Harvey by the arm. Joyce stops them.

                                     JOYCE
                         Wait a minute. Where's the doll?

                                     HARVEY
                         He's got it at the desk. Will you 
                         relax about that already?

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                         Guys, guys, we're in a hurry here.

               The Stage Manager physically pushes Harvey out of the Green 
               Room. Joyce turns back to face the monitor.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

               ANGLE ON MONITOR

               Letterman holds up a copy of a full-size glossy AMERICAN 
               SPLENDOR ANTHOLOGY.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         ...He also writes comic books which 
                         detail his day-to-day pains and 
                         pleasures, and this is an anthology 
                         of nine of those comics. It's entitled 
                         AMERICAN SPLENDOR... From off the 
                         streets of Cleveland, please say 
                         hello to Harvey Pekar.

               THE HARVEY PEKAR WHO WALKS ONTO THE SET IS NOT THE ACTOR 
               PORTRAYING HIM BUT RATHER THE REAL HARVEY PEKAR (only about 
               15 years younger). THIS IS ACTUAL STOCK FOOTAGE FROM HARVEY'S 
               FIRST LETTERMAN APPEARANCE.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - DAY

               Joyce watches as Harvey shakes Letterman's hand and takes a 
               seat.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

               He smiles as the audience warmly greets him. It seems Harvey's 
               grooving on this attention. But as soon as the audience quiets 
               down, Harvey turns to his host and starts his offensive:

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm ready for those Cleveland jokes. 
                         Go ahead...

               Taken off guard, Letterman laughs.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Alright settle down Harvey. Settle 
                         down.
                              (the Audience laughs)
                         Now let's explain to folks who may 
                         not be familiar with your work what 
                         it is you do here, exactly. You have 
                         comic books about you in your daily 
                         life in Cleveland.

                                     HARVEY
                         That's right.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         And are they embellished at all or 
                         is it pretty much factual?

                                     HARVEY
                              (patronizing)
                         No. It's all true, David. All true.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         And you also have a regular job in 
                         Cleveland working at a hospital.

                                     HARVEY
                         That's right. Aiding the sick, yes.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Aiding the sick. Well that's certainly 
                         noble work.

                                     HARVEY
                         Thank you. Thank you.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               ANGLE ON JOYCE WATCHING

                                     JOYCE
                              (unimpressed)
                         Such brilliant repartee...

                                                                   BACK TO:

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Now it seems to me Harvey that you 
                         have a very successful career here. 
                         This is being published by a major 
                         publishing company, Doubleday. Why 
                         do you maintain the day job?

                                     HARVEY
                              (defensive)
                         To make a living!
                              (big laughs)
                         I don't make a living as a writer. 
                         I've been writing for many years, 
                         David. Maybe more years than you've 
                         been alive.

               Now, Letterman cracks up.

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               A LETTERMAN REGULAR (Tony Randall?) comes in with some food.

               He stops by the monitor to watch a moment with Joyce.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, I know that my youthful 
                         appearance belies, you know, my actual 
                         age. But, I've been around for a 
                         long time --

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR
                              (to JOYCE)
                         You know this guy?

                                     JOYCE
                         I'm beginning to wonder.

               The Letterman Regular takes a seat as he watches the monitor.

               He seems more intrigued than Joyce.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

                                     LETTERMAN
                         But I have a feeling though, if you 
                         wanted to, you could probably get by 
                         on what you make selling your work. 
                         Because I know people are after you 
                         to write other things. You're 
                         publishing this anthology...

               This hits a sore spot. Harvey goes from politely condescending 
               to cantankerous in one second flat!

                                     HARVEY
                         Who? What people? What people? What 
                         are you talking about? Where the 
                         hell do you get that stuff?

               Letterman cracks up. The Audience laughs even harder.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm no show biz phoney. I'm telling 
                         the truth. Come on, man.

               The Audience can't believe this guy's holding his own with 
               Letterman.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               ANGLE ON LETTERMAN REGULAR

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR
                              (to Joyce)
                         At least he's keeping up with 
                         Letterman.

                                     JOYCE
                         Pandering is more like it.

               Suddenly, Joyce walks over to the monitor and looks for the 
               channel. She hits a button, but it only changes the frame of 
               the show.

                                     JOYCE
                         Damnit.

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR
                         Excuse me, but what are you doing?

                                     JOYCE
                         I'm trying to get some news. You 
                         know there's a big story about to 
                         break about the US selling arms to 
                         Iran and the Contras.

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR
                         That's a monitor.

                                     JOYCE
                         Ugh. Just forget it.

               Joyce gives up. She sinks back into her seat and pulls a 
               book from her bag. The Letterman Regular stares at her like 
               she's from Mars.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

               ANGLE ON THE MONITOR

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Harvey, I know you've got a job. 
                         I've got a job. We're both very lucky. 
                         We both have jobs.

                                     HARVEY
                         Then what's the matter?

               Once again laughs and a big round of applause. Letterman 
               pulls out Joyce's mysterious doll and props it up on the 
               table.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         We've gotta go. Harvey I like you. 
                         I'm on your side. I enjoy the comic 
                         books. And here, quickly tell us 
                         about the little doll here.

                                     HARVEY
                         My wife made it.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               BACK TO JOYCE.

               She suddenly perks up.

                                     JOYCE
                         Finally something good.
                              (to Letterman Regular)
                         Watch this.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE CLOSE-UP OF THE DOLL

               It is an absolutely horrific but oddly evocative "Harvey Rag 
               Doll." His face is inspired by Crumb's drawings of Harvey 
               but even more extreme. His little T-shirt reads, "American 
               Splendor." The Audience is in stitches.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         They're made out of your old clothing.

                                     HARVEY
                         That's right.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         And what do these go for?

                                     HARVEY
                         Thirty-four bucks.

                                     LETTERMAN
                              (shocked)
                         Thirty-four dollars? Thirty-four 
                         dollars for this?

                                     HARVEY
                         What are ya cheap. You cheaper than 
                         me?

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Would you pay thirty-four dollars 
                         for that?

                                     HARVEY
                         No but I'm not asking it. My wife 
                         is.

                                                                   BACK TO:

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               JOYCE stares at the monitor, expressionless. The STAGE MANAGER 
               sticks his head in.

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                         He's a natural.

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR
                         He is. Good stuff.

               The Stage Manager grabs the Regular.

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                         C'mon. Your turn.

               A smiling HARVEY (the actor now) waltzes in straight from 
               his command performance.

                                     HARVEY
                         Whad'ya think?

               Joyce taps her finger on Letterman's image on the monitor.

                                     JOYCE
                         Megalomaniac.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. NEW YORK HOTEL ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY tries on a ripped T-shirt for Joyce who lies on the 
               bed.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         It became clear pretty fast that I 
                         was invited on the show just for 
                         laughs. But what the hell did I care? 
                         Letterman was an okay guy. Let him 
                         take pot shots at me, s'long as I 
                         got paid an' got to plug my comics.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE

               MONTAGE: A series of actual HARVEY appearances on LATE NIGHT 
               WITH LETTERMAN.

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               JOYCE, whose different outfits reflect time passage, watches 
               each time from the GREEN ROOM. LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE 
               HARVEY, in a ratty T-shirt, spars with LETTERMAN.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Harvey, you are the embodiment of 
                         the American dream...

               The Audience laughs.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Funny thing is, somethin' about me 
                         and Letterman clicked for the viewers. 
                         He kept wantin' me back.

               LETTERMAN SHOW - STOCK FOOTAGE - ANOTHER SHOW

               LETTERMAN introduces his favorite guest.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         It is my pleasure to welcome back 
                         our next guest, the lovable Harvey 
                         Pekar!

               HARVEY walks out with a box of donuts. He starts giving 
               Letterman an earful right off the bat.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Here was this slick, ambitious guy 
                         with millions, winnin' over the 
                         country by makin' light of everything. 
                         And then there was me... A messy 
                         loser with no dough who takes 
                         everything too seriously.

                                     LETTERMAN
                         Tell me Harvey, what do you do to 
                         get away from the pressure of being -- 
                         well, a file clerk?
                              (laughter)

                                     HARVEY
                         Go ahead and laugh, folks. But he 
                         has more contempt for you than I do!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. WHITE CASTLE - 1980'S - DAY

               The burger joint has been transformed into a film set with 
               lights, cameras and lots of trendy MTV types.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         An it wasn't just me gettin' all the 
                         attention. As a result of my 
                         appearances on Letterman, my buddy 
                         Toby Radloff landed a gig on MTV 
                         extolling the virtues of White Castle 
                         burgers...

               OFF TO THE SIDE:

               Two HOT BABES slave over TOBY as he gets his hair and make-
               up done.

               HARVEY wanders onto the set. He finally spots Toby in the 
               corner. As he heads over to say hello, Harvey bumps into the 
               MTV DIRECTOR -- a new wave fashion victim who looks like a 
               lost member of A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

                                     MTV DIRECTOR
                         Christ! Watch where you're going!

                                     HARVEY
                              (muttering)
                         Fuckin' yuppie or whatever kinda 
                         freak you are.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         That day on the set with those MTV 
                         jerks, I had an epiphany. It seemed 
                         that real, salt of the earth people 
                         like Toby an' me were bein' coopted 
                         by these huge corporations. We were 
                         gettin' held up and ridiculed as 
                         losers in the system.  What can I 
                         say, it was the 80's man.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               MTV PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

               TOBY, dressed in dark sunglasses and a turtleneck, stands in 
               front of a White Castle. He delivers his lines in his 
               trademark robotic style. There's an MTV logo on the bottom 
               of the screen.

                                     TOBY
                         Hamburgers are a safer addiction 
                         than drugs. Say no to drugs. Say yes 
                         to White Castle!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. CLEVELAND DINER - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and JOYCE eat breakfast together. Harvey reads a 
               Katherine Mansfield book as JOYCE reads a newspaper.

                                     JOYCE
                              (looking up from the 
                              paper)
                         Harvey, I've been reading about these 
                         kids who grew up in war zones... 
                         Palestinians, Israelis, El 
                         Salvadorians, Cambodians... These 
                         kids are amazing and they're --

               A YUPPIE in a jogging suit walks up to Harvey, interrupting 
               Joyce in mid-sentence.

                                     YUPPIE
                         Hey, you're that guy from the 
                         Letterman show, right?

                                     HARVEY
                              (smiling)
                         Yeah, that's me.

                                     YUPPIE
                         That's so excellent. You and Stupid 
                         Pet Tricks are a riot.

               Harvey's not smiling anymore. This guy's a jerk.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah? Then why dontcha buy one of my 
                         comics, man. That's the only reason 
                         I go on that dumb show anyway.

                                     YUPPIE
                         Right, sure. Later, Harvey Pekar!

               The Yuppie rushes out.

                                     HARVEY
                         Asshole.

                                     JOYCE
                         Anyway, I want to do a political 
                         comic book about these kids. There's 
                         a conference in Jerusalem in a few 
                         weeks, and I can start by doing 
                         interviews there.

                                     HARVEY
                         Whoa whoa, wait a second. Jerusalem? 
                         I can barely drag you off the futon 
                         to go to the Letterman show.

                                     JOYCE
                         Y'know why? 'Cause I don't give a 
                         damn about the Letterman show. I 
                         want to work on something important 
                         to me. Something that matters.

               Joyce hits a nerve.

                                     HARVEY
                              (furious)
                         Hey! You know I only go on the show 
                         for the extra bread!

               People start to look over.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey... you're yelling...

                                     HARVEY
                         Maybe if you got yer lazy ass up and 
                         got a job, I could work on something 
                         that matters, too, huh?!

               Joyce doesn't dignify Harvey with an answer. She stares at 
               him, her eyes well with hurt.

               He sighs, calming down. He looks around sheepishly.

                                     HARVEY
                         I'm sorry, baby. I -- I'm sorry...

               He grabs her hand.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               Harvey and Joyce stroll across the lawn holding hands. They 
               move towards a waiting cab. Harvey carries his wife's bags.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I guess it was good ta finally see 
                         Joyce excited about somethin' of her 
                         own. Sure I was happy for her. But I 
                         was still upset for me.

               They stop by the cab.

                                     HARVEY
                         This is crazy. Can't ya just do 
                         somethin' here in Cleveland?

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, you'll survive a few weeks 
                         alone.

                                     HARVEY
                         Alright... Be careful. I love you, 
                         baby.

               They kiss. Harvey grudgingly puts her bags in the car. He 
               watches as the cab pulls away.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         It was later that night when I first 
                         found the lump.

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               Wearing only his shorts, Harvey lies alone in the communal 
               futon, flipping through a book. He reaches into his underwear 
               to scratch his nuts.

               Suddenly he stops. He feels something odd...

               For a moment he just freezes. His eyes register panic.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I was determined to put it outta my 
                         mind until Joyce got back. Easier 
                         said than done.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - 1980'S - DAY

               An enraged HARVEY fights with his co-worker MIGUEL.

                                     HARVEY
                         What do I care! Just gimme the chart 
                         already!

                                     MIGUEL
                         What is your problem today?!

                                     HARVEY
                         Look, Miguel! I just don't wanna 
                         keep comin' back here for it, okay?!

                                     MIGUEL
                         Harvey, that patient's due t'be 
                         admitted a week from now! Why do you 
                         always have to be picking fights 
                         with everybody?

                                     HARVEY
                              (yelling)
                         How many times do we gotta go through 
                         the same bullshit. Just gimme the 
                         fuckin' chart!

               Offended, Miguel storms off.

                                     MIGUEL
                         We'll see what the doctor says about 
                         this.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               Alone and slumped over his table, HARVEY draws comic ideas 
               with stick figures. Nothing's coming to him. He looks like 
               he's in anguish.

               Frustrated, Harvey crumbles the idea and throws it on the 
               floor. He knocks over a chair.

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               He tosses and turns in bed. No way he's sleeping.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY is yelling into the telephone. It is a bad connection.

                                     HARVEY
                              (loudly into phone)
                         Whadya mean? Another two weeks? Ya 
                         gotta come home some time! Hello? 
                         DAMNIT!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. BACK STAGE - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               Without Joyce, a surly Harvey waits in the wings for his 
               introduction. He sneaks a peek as Letterman finishes up the 
               "stupid pet tricks" segment. We hear dogs barking and audience 
               laughter.

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR (O.S.)
                         And there you have it, folks! Another 
                         enlightening episode of Stupid Pet 
                         Tricks!

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         I was startin' ta lose it. Between 
                         the lump, the loneliness -- I felt 
                         like everything wuz closin' in on 
                         me. And with Joyce over there savin' 
                         the world, I never felt more like a 
                         sell-out hack in my life.

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR (O.S.)
                         Y'know ladies and gentlemen, when 
                         Thoreau wrote that most men lead 
                         lives of quiet depression, he 
                         obviously had not met our first guest, 
                         who happens to lead a life of whining 
                         desperation...

               Harvey clenches his fists.

                                     HARVEY
                              (threatening)
                         Okay, asshole. You'll pay for that 
                         one...

               Harvey takes off his shirt. He pulls another t-shirt out of 
               the bag and changes ...

                                     LETTERMAN REGULAR (O.S.)
                         Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome 
                         back, Harvey Pekar.

               Harvey's new t-shirt reads "ON STRIKE AGAINST NBC." He takes 
               off for the stage, fists clenched, a soldier marching off to 
               war.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. GREEN ROOM - NBC STUDIOS - 1980'S - DAY

               We're positioned behind the monitor, so we can only hear the 
               show. THE STAGE MANAGER AND TWO PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS 
               straighten up in the room.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         Hey, Dave! You wanna know what my 
                         politics are? I'm a strident leftist, 
                         Dave.

                                     LETTERMAN (O.S.)
                         I could have guessed half of that.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         You coulda guessed all of it, man! 
                         So why don't we talk about your parent 
                         company, G.E., huh? Let's talk about 
                         anti-trust violations and nuclear 
                         reactors!

                                     STAGE MANAGER
                         Joe, put more sodas in the fridge, 
                         there. And let's clean up the 
                         counters. That Pekar guy's a pig.

               As the P.A.'s walk back and forth in front of the monitor, 
               we hear the Letterman / Pekar banter grow louder.

               Suddenly PRODUCTION ASSISTANT #2 stops and checks out the 
               monitor.

                                     PRODUCTION ASSISTANT #2
                         Whoa... you guys. Check this out.

               INT. TOBY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               TOBY and his GRANDMOTHER watch HARVEY raise hell on Letterman. 
               Again, we can't see the screen.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         You're a cop-out, Letterman. You're 
                         nothin' but a shill for G.E.

               Toby's grandmother passes him a plate of cookies.

                                     LETTERMAN (O.S.)
                         First of all, Harvey, what you are 
                         saying is not true. Second of all, 
                         this is not the place to say it. If 
                         you want to talk about this, go 
                         somewhere else, because you're not 
                         talking about it here!!

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. MR. BOAT'S KITCHEN - 1980'S - DAY

               Dressed in a bathrobe, Mr. Boats eats a lonely, late-night 
               snack (cake and milk) at his kitchen table. A 12" TV on the 
               table has Harvey and Dave on.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         Don't worry, Dave. I won't come back 
                         unless you beg me.

                                     LETTERMAN (O.S.)
                         You're not coming back at all.

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         What do I care --

                                     LETTERMAN (O.S.)
                         Because we've given you many, many 
                         chances to talk about things that 
                         would be of general interest to people --

                                     HARVEY (O.S.)
                         So what?!

               Mr. Boats shakes his head.

               INT. TOWN CAR - 1980'S - DAY

               We see Harvey alone, slumped in the back seat of a Town Car, 
               heading back towards his hotel. City lights pass over his 
               troubled face. We still hear the show, as if it's now in his 
               head.

                                     LETTERMAN (V.O.)
                         -- And also to promote your little 
                         Mickey Mouse magazine. Your little 
                         weekly reader! But you've blown every 
                         chance you've got. You're a dork, 
                         Harvey!

                                     HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Dave, you're fulla shit! You're fulla 
                         shit!!

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON AN AMERICAN SPLENDOR COMIC

               The cover depicts a snarling LETTERMAN yelling, "YOU FUCKED 
               UP A GREAT THING!" at a smirking, self-satisfied HARVEY.

               JOYCE lies in bed reading the comic, chuckling. HARVEY cuddles 
               up against her.

                                     JOYCE
                         I guess you did it this time.

                                     HARVEY
                         Who cares. He wasn't helpin' my sales 
                         anyway.
                              (moving closer)
                         Baby, don't go away anymore. I just 
                         can't take bein' alone.

               Joyce puts the magazine down.

                                     JOYCE
                         If you met those kids over there and 
                         saw what they go through, you wouldn't 
                         ask that of me.

                                     HARVEY
                         But if you go again I'm really gonna 
                         lose it.

                                     JOYCE
                         It's not open for discussion, Harvey. 
                         I need this in my life right now.

               She cuddles up close to him.

                                     JOYCE
                         But I do appreciate the fact that 
                         you missed me so much. C'mere...

               She starts to kiss him. He kisses her back. Her hands wander 
               down. Suddenly she feels something strange.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, what is that?

               Harvey looks at her and gulps.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and JOYCE sit in the office holding hands, like two 
               terrified high school kids. A DOCTOR stands before them.

               They just got bad news...

                                     JOYCE
                         I don't understand, does "tumor" 
                         mean the same thing as "cancer"?

               The doctor gently nods.

               Joyce covers her mouth. Harvey holds onto his head. He looks 
               positively dizzy. The doctor starts to talk, yet the words 
               don't seem to match his mouth. He looks dubbed. Strange 
               phrases just weave together, echo and bounce off the wall, 
               making no sense at all.

               ...we know the growth is malignant. What we don't know is 
               how far it may have spread. Once we have the results of the 
               biopsy, we can make more informed decisions about treatment... 
               blah, blah, blah...

               The whole office seems to spin.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - LATER

               Joyce and Harvey sit on the stoop of their apartment house, 
               in a daze. The words keep echoing around them. Harvey holds 
               his head.

                                     DOCTOR #2
                         ...cat scan... diagnosis... MRI... 
                         cancer... cancer... cancer...

                                     HARVEY
                         How can I have cancer? I don't feel 
                         sick at all.

                                     JOYCE
                         That's a positive thing.

                                     HARVEY
                         My cousin Norman died of lymphoma. 
                         He was twenty-nine. He was a brilliant 
                         oncologist.

                                     JOYCE
                         Stop it! You're not going to die, 
                         Harvey. You're not.

               Harvey turns to Joyce.

                                     HARVEY
                         What's going to happen to you, baby? 
                         Who's gonna take care of you if I'm 
                         not around?

               Joyce stands up, determined.

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey, look at me and focus. We are 
                         going to get through this. I 
                         understand illness. I know how to 
                         handle these things.

                                     HARVEY
                         But that's you. I'm not strong enough. 
                         I don't know how ta be positive. I 
                         can't do it. I can't.

                                     JOYCE
                         Yes, you can. And I'll tell you how. 
                         You'll make a comic book out of the 
                         whole thing. You'll document every 
                         little detail. And that way you'll 
                         remove yourself from the experience 
                         until it's over.

               Despite Joyce's passionate pitch, Harvey shakes his head. 

                                     HARVEY
                         I can't do that. I'm just not strong 
                         enough... I just wanna die.

               Joyce folds her arm.

                                     JOYCE
                         Fine. I'll do it without you.

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and JOYCE lay there quietly, both exhausted. Joyce 
               turns over so her back faces Harvey. He puts his arm around 
               her.

               ANGLE ON JOYCE'S FACE 

               A tear drips down her cheek.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               Joyce is straightening up the apartment. The place actually 
               looks halfway decent.

               THE DOORBELL RINGS

               Joyce opens the door. A guy in his 30's named FRED -- Hells 
               Angels tough guy meets sensitive artist -- stands at the 
               door. He's accompanied by a seven-year-old girl, DANIELLE.

                                     FRED
                         Hey, I'm Fred. You called me about 
                         the comic book?

                                     JOYCE
                         Right -- the artist. Come on in.

                                     FRED
                         This is my daughter, Danielle. I had 
                         to bring her along. I hope you don't 
                         mind.

               Joyce leans down and addresses the girl, who holds a toy 
               horse.

                                     JOYCE
                         Hi, Danielle. What's that you're 
                         holding?

                                     DANIELLE
                         A pony.

               It's immediately obvious that Joyce is great with kids.

                                     JOYCE
                         A pony? What's his name?

                                     DANIELLE
                         She's a girl. Clarissa.

                                     JOYCE
                         Oh, I see. Well, I'm Joyce. Nice to 
                         meet both you and Clarissa.

               They all walk towards the table which is covered with papers.

                                     FRED
                         I'm really sorry to hear about Harvey. 
                         Is he here?

                                     JOYCE
                         He's going to work until next week, 
                         when he starts the chemo. That's why 
                         I wanna get this project started 
                         now. Once he's stuck here, I know 
                         he'll take over.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - LATER

               Miserable and in a daze, HARVEY walks up to his front door.

               He looks like a man whose days are numbered. When he reaches 
               the door, he searches his pockets for keys.

               ANGLE ON POCKET

               Harvey's hand comes up empty.

                                     HARVEY
                         Shit!

               Harvey tries the doorknob, but it's locked.

               He steps back on the lawn and looks around. Could he have 
               dropped them? He retraces a few steps.

                                     HARVEY
                         Damnit!

               Harvey yells up at the window.

                                     HARVEY
                         Joyce, open the door! I lost my keys 
                         again! Joyce!!

               ANGLE ON FRONT DOOR

               HARVEY'S ELDERLY NEIGHBOR struggles with her shopping cart 
               through the door.

               Harvey pushes past her to get in.

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT VESTIBULE

               Harvey knocks again. Nothing. Now he punches the door.

                                     HARVEY
                         Joyce!! Open the fucking door!!

               Suddenly the door opens. Loud music pours out. But it's not 
               Joyce, it's FRED, the artist.

                                     FRED
                         Hey, Harvey.

                                     HARVEY
                         Fred?

               Harvey just stares at him. Fred opens the door to reveal:

               JOYCE and DANIELLE dancing together with the stereo blasting.  
               They're having a ball.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               At the kitchen table, HARVEY looks over FRED'S sketches.

               JOYCE and DANIELLE are now building a house of cards on the 
               living room floor.

                                     FRED
                         Here are some ideas we batted around.

                                     HARVEY
                         Sheesh. Joyce doesn't know what she's 
                         doing. There's too many words in 
                         these frames. When are ya comin' 
                         back?

                                     FRED
                         Uh, she said something about next 
                         Tuesday, which is fine with me. Only 
                         thing is, I might have the kid again. 
                         My ex-wife's supposed to take her, 
                         but I don't have much faith in her 
                         showing up. She is in worse shape 
                         than me these days.

               Harvey looks away at Joyce and Danielle playing. They're 
               oblivious to the world.

                                     HARVEY
                         Next week my treatment begins. Do me 
                         a favor. Bring the kid with you.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               CLOSE UP: A PENCIL SKETCHING

               FRED'S PENCIL completes a sketch of Joyce pushing Harvey in 
               a wheelchair. The word "cancer" appears everywhere, floating 
               all around the image.

               COMIC ART / REAL LIFE MONTAGE

               The following montage chronicles Harvey's illness by cutting 
               between comic art depicting key events and shots of HARVEY, 
               JOYCE and FRED creating the book.

               The montage is set to the simultaneously dulcet and discordant 
               tone of Miles Davis' "Blue in Green" (or something similar).

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAY - 1980'S - DAY

               Close on Harvey's face as he's getting pushed down the hall 
               in a wheelchair.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               M.R.I. COMIC PANEL

               A panel of Harvey entering the M.R.I. machine.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               We see Harvey, Joyce and Fred sitting around a table. Joyce 
               fights to keep Harvey focused on the project.

               BACK TO MORE COMIC PANELS:

               1) An enraged Harvey throws things around the house.

               2) Joyce on the bed crying, a cat licking her back.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S SHOWER - 1980'S - DAY

               A balding Harvey depressed in the shower. He holds a clump 
               of hair in his hand.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               COMIC PANEL OF THE ABOVE SCENE

               Harvey in the shower. The balloon above his head reveals his 
               inner turmoil over losing his hair and his face swelling.

               MORE COMIC PANELS FOLLOW

               Harvey in agony. Various positions of him in bed, on all 
               fours, covered with a case of shingles. "I feel like I'm on 
               fire" appears over his head.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S KITCHEN - 1980'S - DAY

               Joyce and Fred go over some more comic art. Joyce carries 
               the idea over to Harvey (wearing a baseball cap), who can't 
               get out of the couch. He looks it over and nods. Danielle 
               brings Harvey a glass of water.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               MORE COMIC PANELS:

               Harvey crawling up the steps. "I'm so weak I can't make it," 
               he thinks...

               Harvey and Joyce in a hospital waiting room. He's slumped 
               over, she has her hand on him.

               A delirious Harvey surrounded by nurses and Joyce. "She's 
               torturing me, she won't let me die, I wanna die..."

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BATHROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               A balding Harvey lies on his bathroom floor. His cat walks 
               all over him.

                                     HARVEY
                         I wanna die... just let me die...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               MORE COMIC PANELS:

               Joyce attempts to wake Harvey up. She curses at him. She 
               slaps him. "Why are you doing this to me!"

               A drawing of Joyce, doubled over, crying. "I can't take this 
               anymore..."

               THE MONTAGE ENDS WITH A SCENE IN HARVEY'S BEDROOM

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - NIGHT

               A repeat of the opening scene... Like a ghost, a naked HARVEY 
               stands over his bed staring down at a sleeping JOYCE.

               In the eerie light, he's almost translucent.

                                     HARVEY
                              (faintly)
                         Joyce... Joyce?

               Joyce springs up, alarmed.

                                     JOYCE
                         What's wrong, Harvey? What are you 
                         doing up?

               Harvey just stands there for a moment saying nothing.

                                     JOYCE
                         What is it?

                                     HARVEY
                              (delirious, out of 
                              breath)
                         Tell me the truth. Am I some guy who 
                         writes about himself in a comic book? 
                         Or am I just -- just a character in 
                         that book?

                                     JOYCE
                         Harvey...

                                     HARVEY
                         When I die, will 'dat character keep 
                         goin'? Or will he just fade away.

               Joyce just stares at him, unsure how to answer. Finally Harvey 
               collapses.

               Joyce leaps from the bed, nervous, hysterical. She gets down 
               on the floor and shakes him.

                                     JOYCE
                         Omigod, Harvey! Harvey, wake up!

               CLOSE ON HARVEY'S FACE

               His eyes remain closed, his expression far, far away. The 
               sound of Joyce's voice fades until it seems like a distant 
               echo.

               Then PANELS from Harvey's comics begin to float over his 
               head, his life literally passing before his eyes in comic 
               book form.

               Slowly, the comic images and the unconscious Harvey evaporate, 
               giving way to:

               GREEN SCREEN

               A SURREAL DREAM SEQUENCE

               We are now in a large, empty room similar to a blank comic 
               book panel.

               A healthy, fully dressed Harvey appears in the corner of the 
               frame. He is very far away, barely recognizable. We slowly 
               dolly towards him as he delivers a formal soliloquy to the 
               camera:

                                     HARVEY
                         My name is Harvey Pekar. It's an 
                         unusual name -- Harvey Pekar...

               As Harvey speaks, one-dimensional comic book images from his 
               life pass over the screen once again. This time in front of 
               him, behind him, everywhere. We dolly in towards him.

                                     HARVEY
                         1960 was the year I got my first 
                         apartment and my first telephone 
                         book. Imagine my surprise when I 
                         looked up my name and saw that, in 
                         addition to me, another Harvey Pekar 
                         was listed!

               Images of Harvey's childhood float by, followed by his young 
               adult years.

                                     HARVEY
                         I was listed as Harvey L. Pekar... 
                         My middle name is Lawrence... He was 
                         listed as Harvey Pekar -- no middle 
                         initial... Therefore, his was a purer 
                         listing.

               We see Harvey age in the images: he's hanging on the street 
               corner with friends, collecting records, hanging with Crumb.

                                     HARVEY
                         Then, in the seventies, I noticed 
                         that a third Harvey Pekar was listed 
                         in the phone book! This filled me 
                         with curiosity.

                                     HARVEY
                         How could there be three people with 
                         such an unusual name in the world, 
                         let alone in one city?!

               Now, numerous images of Harvey's many years at the V.A. 
               Hospital float by: Harvey filing, Harvey arguing with his 
               boss, Harvey and Toby, etc.

                                     HARVEY
                         Then one day, a person I worked with 
                         expressed her sympathy to me 
                         concerning what she thought was the 
                         death of my father. She pointed out 
                         an obituary notice in the newspaper 
                         for a man named Harvey Pekar. One of 
                         his sons was named Harvey. These 
                         were the other Harvey Pekars.

               The comic images fade out. Harvey is once again alone in the 
               empty room.

                                     HARVEY
                         Six months later, Harvey Pekar Jr. 
                         died. Although I'd met neither man, 
                         I was filled with sadness. "What 
                         were they like," I thought. It seemed 
                         that our lives had been linked in 
                         some indefinable way.

               We slowly move in on his face. Extremely close. As close as 
               the camera can get.

                                     HARVEY
                         But the story does not end there. 
                         For two years later another Harvey 
                         Pekar appeared in the directory. 
                         What kind of people are these? Where 
                         do they come from, what do they do? 
                         What's in a name?

               END DREAM SEQUENCE

               INT. HARVEY'S BEDROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               BACK TO BEDROOM:

               We are close on HARVEY'S face as he lays passed out and 
               delirious on the floor. Over this WE HEAR...

                                     HARVEY
                         Who is Harvey Pekar?

               His face slowly fades to black.

               A MOMENT OF BLACK, AND THEN...

               INT. TOWER BOOKS - 1980'S - DAY

               FADE IN:

               CLOSE UP: A GLOSSY, FULL-COLOR, NOVEL-SIZED COMIC COVER.

               Scrawled across the top in yellow and red it read, "Our Cancer 
               Year." The drawing depicts Harvey doubled over on the front 
               lawn, groceries in the snow, with Joyce attempting to help 
               him up. A hand flips the book open and signs the inside leaf.

               JOYCE and a healthy-looking HARVEY sit at a table signing 
               copies of their opus. About fifteen or so people mill about 
               with copies.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Here's our man a year later. Somehow 
                         I made it through the treatments, 
                         an' the doctors are optimistic. I 
                         guess Joyce was right about doin' 
                         the big comic book. We published the 
                         thing as a graphic novel -- our first 
                         collaboration -- and ended up with 
                         rave reviews. We even won the American 
                         Book Award. Go figure...

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM - 1980'S - DAY

               The place is still a mess but somehow it has a better vibe 
               than it had before. This might be due to the presence of 
               DANIELLE. She sits crossed legged on the floor making jewelry 
               out of beads. JOYCE guides her.

               HARVEY shuffles into the room. He watches for a moment as 
               Joyce and Danielle play.

               ANGLE ON JOYCE: There is an awkward expression almost 
               resembling a smile on her face. He interrupts them.

                                     HARVEY
                         Hey Joyce.

               Joyce looks up. Harvey looks like he's trying to hide 
               something.

                                     JOYCE
                         What is it Harvey?

                                     HARVEY
                         That was the doctor.

               Joyce stops what she's doing and gulps. She hangs on Harvey's 
               every word.

                                     HARVEY
                         He said I'm all clear.

               Tears well in Harvey's eyes. Joyce breathes a sigh of relief 
               and Danielle jumps up and runs over to Harvey. She hugs him.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. CLEVELAND ICE RINK - 1980 - DAY

               HARVEY sits in the bleachers, watching JOYCE teach DANIELLE 
               to ice skate.

               Harvey's got a box of pizza next to him. He picks up a slice 
               and chomps on it. The cheese drips out of his mouth onto his 
               shirt.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         The weirdest thing that came outta 
                         my illness was Danielle. With her 
                         real mother runnin' around who knows 
                         where, an' seein' how well her and 
                         Joyce got on, Fred decided she'd 
                         have a better life with us. I was 
                         scared at first but then I thought, 
                         what the hell. She's a good kid. So 
                         we ended up takin' her an' raising 
                         her as our own.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. HARVEY'S APARTMENT - 1980'S - DAY

               HARVEY and DANIELLE lie on the futon together. Harvey's comics 
               are strewn around the room everywhere. Danielle flips through 
               one.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ya keep readin' 'em backward.

                                     DANIELLE
                         I like reading them backward.
                              (holding up a comic)
                         Is that you?

                                     HARVEY
                         I keep tellin' ya, all of 'ems me, 
                         man.

                                     DANIELLE
                         You look like a monster.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, well wait'll ya see what you're 
                         gonna look like.

                                     DANIELLE
                         Me??

                                     HARVEY
                         Sure. Yer part of the story too, 
                         now.

                                     DANIELLE
                         What story?

                                     HARVEY
                         The story of my life.

               Danielle makes a face.

                                     HARVEY
                         Yeah, I know I'm not as interesting 
                         as The Little Mermaid and all that 
                         magical crap...

                                     DANIELLE
                         Maybe I want to write my own comic.

                                     HARVEY
                         Oh yeah? What about?

                                     DANIELLE
                         I don't know yet. But not about you. 
                         You have enough already.

                                                                    CUT TO:

               EXT. SCHOOL BUS STOP - FALL - PRESENT - DAY

               HARVEY walks towards the bus stop to send DANIELLE to school.

               He holds her hand.

                                     HARVEY
                         Ya know, you should write about things 
                         in your own life. Like school and... 
                         ponies... I don't know, girl stuff...

                                     DANIELLE
                              (to Harvey)
                         Do you have to hold my hand?

                                     HARVEY
                              (wounded)
                         What, are you embarrassed a' me? I 
                         know, I'm embarrassing. I felt the 
                         same way about my father.

               Danielle looks up at Harvey like he's crazy.

                                     DANIELLE
                         No Harvey. You're just squeezing it 
                         too hard.
                              (shaking her head)
                         Joyce is right. You are obsessive 
                         compulsive.

               Danielle drops his hand and rushes onto the bus with other 
               kids.

               Harvey waves and watches as it pulls away.

               He turns and walks by himself down the busy Cleveland street --

               -- a familiar image from the opening. He's still hunched 
               over. He's still Harvey.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         Yeah, so I guess comics brought me a 
                         lot. But don't think this is some 
                         sunny, happy ending. Every day is 
                         still a major struggle. Joyce an' I 
                         fight like crazy, an' she barely 
                         works. The kid's got A.D.D. and is a 
                         real handful. My expenses have gone 
                         up so much that I'm writin' freelance 
                         'round the clock, just to make my 
                         bills. My life is total chaos.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. BUS STOP - FALL - PRESENT - DAY

               DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE -- SHOT ON FILM

               NOW THE REAL HARVEY walks down the same busy Cleveland street 
               towards his job.

                                     REAL HARVEY (V.O.)
                         With a little luck, I'll get a window 
                         of good health between retirin' an 
                         dyin'. The golden years, right? Who 
                         knows. Between my pension and the 
                         chunk of change I got for this movie, 
                         I should be able to swing somethin'. 
                         Sure I'll lose the war eventually, 
                         but the goal is to win a few 
                         skirmishes along the way. Right?

                                                                    CUT TO:

               INT. V.A. HOSPITAL - PRESENT - DAY

               DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE -- SHOT ON FILM

               THE REAL HARVEY slumps at the desk now, flipping through a 
               comic book.

               ANGLE ON DOOR

               THE REAL TOBY comes into the file room, carrying a cake with 
               sparklers. He's followed by a group of Harvey's REAL COWORKERS 
               and JOYCE and REAL DANIELLE.

               Harvey moves the comic off his desk so Toby can put the cake 
               down.

               ANGLE ON CAKE

               The festive cake reads "HAPPY RETIREMENT HARVEY." REAL JOYCE 
               cuts the cake and passes slices to the group.

               ANOTHER WORKER pops a bottle of champagne.

               CLOSE on a glass of champagne getting filled. The glass sits 
               next to the comic Harvey was reading.

               CLOSE UP ON COMIC BOOK COVER

               HARVEY'S new edition of AMERICAN SPLENDOR is subtitled, "OUR 
               MOVIE YEAR." It features an illustration of HARVEY, JOYCE 
               and DANIELLE surrounded by cameras, lights and crew.

                                                                  FADE OUT:

                                         THE END