Help Built a Statue Honoring Harvey Pekar and Comics!

3 Nov
American Splendor (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Via The Beat

Since his death last summer, there’s been much talk about honoring the late Harvey Pekar in his native Cleveland with a statue.

Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner, was uncomfortable with the idea of a heroic monument, so in conjuction with some local artists they;ve come up with a more populist memorial: a statue at the Cleveland Height library hat would also serve as a place where people can read and make comics.

Here’s the Kickstarter page to raise funds.

It’s a FANTASTIC idea – a way to honor one of comics’ greatest voices, and a way to share the love of comics.

I recall Joyce Brabner talking about this idea at the Eisner Awards, and that the original plan was a statue at Harvey Pekar’s gravesite. But they’ve found a better plan:

…why not use Harvey’s para-celebrity to promote Comics as Art & Literature?

Justin redesigned the models, now turning into a memorial that would encourage anyone and everyone to think about writing or drawing stories about themselves, about whatever they could imagine. He and Joyce decided on a large bronze comic book page with captions that proclaimed, as Harvey said, “Comics are words and pictures. You can make anything you want with words and pictures.” “Anybody’s life story is potentially the source of a great novel, comic book or movie.” And in very small letters, directly under Harvey, in Yiddish, what he really would have said, “Oy! What do you want from my life anyway?”

Thinking comics, Joyce realized this left them with a reverse “page” on the back of the memorial. She decided to turn it into a giant slate storyboard, upon which people could draw their own comics. That’s what killed the idea of placing the memorial on Harvey’s as yet unmarked grave. It would not be polite to the other guests of the cemetery. And of all this came the much better idea to redesign the memorial and install it at the Cleveland Heights Public Library– a very comics friendly place, indeed– where, because a giant block of granite or marble was no longer required, costs could be cut in half by mounting everything on a reinforced wooden desk.

Much more at the link. I know I’ve posted a lot about donating to causes on this site, but this is another worthy one. Please chip in whatever you can to make this happen!

On a personal note, I was the (uncredited) Assistant Editor on several American Splendor projects in the late ’90s, and reading Pekar’s stories was a revelation for me. On the surface, these (mostly) crudely drawn, slice-of-life stories seemed like a waste of time for a kid raised on color superhero comics. But the wisdom and depth in the observational storytelling quickly won me over and made me a fan for life. If you’ve never read Pekar’s work, you’re in for a real treat – go check out Our Cancer Year, The Quitter, or the many American Splendor collections; you’ll be glad you did.

(For those who care, the biggest contribution I had to the series was catching some spelling and art mistakes while proofreading, and getting to help determine the order of stories for one of two issues. A very enjoyable and educational experience, and one for which I’m very grateful to editor Diana Schutz.)

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