Heights Libraries to honor Harvey Pekar's 'Literary, Library Life' on Oct. 14

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff,” author and comics pioneer Harvey Pekar once said.

Heights Libraries and the Friends of the Heights Libraries will honor Pekar—the ordinary and complex son of Cleveland who died in 2010—with a Literary Landmark plaque and statue dedication ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Lee Road Library. The event, “Harvey Pekar: A Literary, Library Life,” will include a presentation by JT Waldman, the artist who collaborated with Pekar on his posthumously published graphic novel, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me.

The plaque was funded by the Friends and presented to Heights Libraries by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations to honor and recognize Pekar’s special relationship with the library system. Pekar's wife, Joyce Brabner, said, “That library was Harvey’s first love and second home.” The statue of Pekar is being created by Justin Coulter, local sculptor, with $38,000 raised by Brabner last year through a Kickstarter campaign.

Pekar’s relationship with the library is a big part of Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Waldman met Pekar in 2005 and gave him a copy of his own first graphic novel, Megillat Esther, a retelling of the biblical story of Esther. Pekar liked the book so much he invited Waldman to illustrate Israel. Their collaboration began in 2008 and included trips to the Lee Road Library, a site featured in the book.  

Waldman continued the project after Pekar died. “Finishing the book without Harvey over the last two years was heavy,” he said. “I missed my collaborator and friend, and I was drawing him every day, so it was a particularly bizarre process of mourning and creativity.”

Waldman continued, “Although Harvey cultivated a curmudgeon character on screen and in print, the man himself was quite kind and surprisingly encouraging. He expressed complete faith in my creative vision and was always telling me to ‘do my thing.’ ”

Waldman’s talk will focus on his collaboration with Pekar and the role the Lee Road Library played in their research for the book.

“My Pekar years were full of crazy amounts of joy and sadness, and taught me a lot about the type of person and artist that I am. I was lucky to be in the graces of a comics legend, and given the opportunity to be myself and represent another person through comics. I trust that Harvey would be proud of the way the book turned out,” said Waldman.

The public is invited to this free event. Copies of the book will be offered for sale and refreshments will be served. The Lee Road Library is at 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. For information call 216-932-3600 or visit www.heightslibrary.org. For information on JT Waldman, visit www.jtwaldman.com.

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.

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Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 9:35 AM, 09.03.2012