“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff,” said author and comics pioneer Harvey Pekar.
Heights Libraries and the Friends of the Heights Libraries will be honoring Pekar, the ordinary and complex son of Cleveland, with a Literary Landmark plaque and statue dedication ceremony on Sunday, October 14, at 2 p.m. at the Lee Road branch of Heights Libraries. 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 Literary Landmark 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. “That library was Harvey’s first love and second home,” says Brabner. The statue is being created by local sculptor Justin Coulter with funds raised by Brabner last year through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $38,000.
Pekar’s relationship with the library is a big part of Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. The book’s illustrator, JT Waldman, met Pekar in 2005 and gave him a copy of his first graphic novel, Megillat Esther, a retelling of the biblical story of Esther. Pekar liked the book so much he invited Waldman to illustrate Not the Israel. The collaboration began in 2008 and included trips to the Lee Road branch of Heights Libraries, which is featured in the book.
Waldman continued working on the book after Pekar’s death in 2010. “Finishing the book without Harvey over the last two years was heavy,” says Waldman. “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 continues, “Although Harvey cultivated a curmudgeon character on screen and in print, the man himself was quite kind and surprisingly encouraging. Harvey expressed complete faith in my creative vision and was always telling me to ‘do my thing.’ ”
Waldman’s talk at the Lee Road branch of Heights Library will focus on his collaboration with Pekar and the role the 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 be 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,” says Waldman.
The event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be for sale and light refreshments will be served. The Lee Road branch is located at 2345 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. For more information call 216.932.3600 or visit www.heightslibrary.org. For more information on JT Waldman, visit www.jtwaldman.com.