Fifth annual Pekar Comic Book day is July 20
On July 20, the Pekar Park Comic Book Fest will return to Coventry Village for its fifth year. Since 2015, this free festival has honored the legacy of late Cleveland Heights resident and graphic novelist Harvey Pekar by offering a wide range of arts- and comics-themed activities for visitors of all ages.
“Harvey continues to be the most renowned comic writer from the area. He was a regular patron of Heights Libraries’ Lee Road branch, and wrote notable, relatable and internationally recognized comics,” said Kate Atherton, Heights Libraries’ adult services associate, ‘zine collection curator and lartist. “He set the standard that other Cleveland writers and artists could also be recognized, and that their stories could be shared through this unique format.”
The Coventry Village Library and Pekar Park will host workshops, panels and hands-on activities to inspire community members to engage with comics in their own ways. The event's varied activities will spotlight local comic book and graphic novel writers and illustrators, and include movie screenings, hands-on crafts, and performances.
From noon to 6 p.m. in the Coventry Village Library, visitors can join arts panels and comics experts who will discuss women and their role in comics, and view animé shorts and the film "My Friend Dahmer," introduced by local graphic novelist Derf, who wrote the graphic novel on which it was based.
The festivities will also take place 1–6:30 p.m. at Pekar Park, at the northwest corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. Activities will include a chalk art contest organized by photographer Tyler Federico and sponsored by Blick, comic book and ‘zine making facilitated by Lake Erie Ink, and other crafts organized by Heights Libraries staff.
Atherton noted, “Cleveland has so many artists making all kinds of comics; from autobiographical to totally surreal and ethereal, from handmade to professionally published volumes. Come and talk to artists, make your own work, and celebrate this art form with the creative community of Cleveland Heights and the library, which houses so many comics and graphic novels. We would love to have you!”
For the first time, the event will culminate with a cosplay fashion show, organized by Cleveland-based animé club Urban Otaku. Cosplay, the act of dressing up like a character from a movie, television series, book or videogame, frequently draws inspiration from Japanese comics and animé.
“We wanted to add more of the so-called ‘geek culture’ experience to this year’s Pekar Comic day. Animé and manga add to the layers of comic culture by showcasing diverse styles of storytelling and artistry,” said Curtis O'Neal, Urban Otaku club president. “We hope people who visit our activities will learn just as much as they will have fun.”
For more information about the Comic Book Fest, visit www.heightslibrary.org.
Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.