Yesterday, Cleveland Heights celebrated the life of comic book writer Harvey Pekar by dedicating part of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard to his memory and legacy, naming it Pekar Park.
It included a Harvey Pekar Comic Fest, a Pekar Park dedication, jazz performance, a storytelling session and a screening of American Splendor, all with the blessing of his widow Joyce Brabner, who had previously turned down other attempt at physical eulogy. She states,
"This year, I saw an opportunity and said I would co-operate if a nearby corner was returned to its earlier, youth/arts friendly state by removing the big, blocky 'people bumper' planters that were installed to discourage assembly — and by welcoming back young people."
Lamppost banners tell an original American Splendor story drawn by Joseph Remnant, that can be read in sequence. Joyce wrote,
I created these with a theme in mind, with art by Joseph Remnant. They'll hang 6 feet long— one big comics story.
Harvey Pekar was possibly the polar opposite of Stan Lee. While developing a public media persona, that's to increasing coverage of the man and his work, including a number of appearances on David Letterman, and eventually an internationally distributed movie, he stayed very much the man he was, a cynical clerk working hand to mouth, dealing with the most mundane issues, but finding those observations transformed by comic book artists to reach the emerging alternative comics scene. He was, however, a far ore conservative individual than his counterparts, and that dichotomy always lifted his work for me. There was an honesty of a point of view expressed, and by reducing his world to the streets of Cleveland, readers could qute easily find parallels with their own situation. As a result, American Splendor was pure poetry. And it's an influence on comic books, and to the community in which he lived, that won't be forgotten.
Joyce led the dedication.
There was a familiar face from the comics – and the movie.
There were many faces of Harvey Pekar.
And hey, there was even swag to be had….