Pekar was not just a guy who became famous who was from Cleveland, or a celebrity like LeBron (actually from Akron) who's legend could have formed anywhere with a big sports franchise. His life's work documented a strange, personal and very mundane life in the aging neighborhoods of a real American city. For many people, he represents Cleveland. Even after substantial fame and success, Pekar kept his day job as clerk at a VA hospital.
Read Merge's take on Pekar on his old blog from a few years back.
"I've since learned a lot about Pekar's life. To be honest, my initial thoughts were that his work was a bit slight. Yet there was something appealing about the quotidian accounts of his life, and my appreciation steadily grew. It's surprising how interesting the life of a file clerk can be. The levels of self-exposure and sincerity in his work make for a fascinating read. They help create a compelling depiction of a little-documented time and place. Most of his adult life was recorded in the American Splendor collections. We learn about his interests in Jazz and literature, and about his relationship with his wife and adopted daughter. He shares stories and observations of his co-workers and others that he interacts with. We see his struggles with money and notoriety."
Pekar on David Letterman
Pekar in a longer interview talking about his work.