In a big weekend for the family of the late Harvey Pekar, acclaimed autobiographical comics writer and favorite son of the city of Cleveland, the city’s public library erected a statue in his honor and also issued limited edition library cards with his likeness. The statue, a Kickstarter-funded project organized by his widow Joyce Brabner, was unveiled at the Cleveland Heights Branch of the Cleveland Public Library and the new library card depicts Pekar entering the CPL’s main branch.
The statue of Harvey Pekar was created by sculptor Justin Coultor and is also based on drawings by JT Waldman, who illustrated Pekar’s posthumously published work, Not the Israel My parents Promised Me, which was published this year by Hill & Wang’s Novel Graphics imprint. The Kickstarter campaign raised $38,356 to create the statue. The bronze sculpture depicts Pekar, who died in July 2010, emerging from a comics page and the work sits atop a wooden desk, and its drawers are filled with paper and pencils which anyone can take and use to draw comics. In addition the back of the sculpture is made of slate and library patrons are encouraged to draw impromptu comics right on the sculpture.
The new limited edition Harvey Pekar library card is based on a drawing from Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, another posthumously published work, created in collaboration with artist Joe Remnant and published this year by Zip Comics/Top Shelf. According to Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz, knowledge manager at the Cleveland Public Library, it’s the first of a series of library cards that will also bear the likenesses of other famous Clevelanders, including Superman—created by Cleveland resident Joe Shuster and Cleveland-born Jerry Siegel—as well as African American writer Langston Hughes.
“We loved the drawing of the main library with Harvey walking in,” Diamond-Ortiz said during a phone interview, “so we bought the original art from Joe Remnant and now the framed artwork will also be on display in the main library. Harvey was a lover of libraries and we loved him.”