HARVEY PEKAR: Tribute desk sculpture to be unveiled today in Cleveland

October 14, 2012

FOR MONTHS NOW, Joyce Brabner had considered the question. She had continued to wear her wedding ring after husband Harvey Pekar’s death in 2010. Even as she worked on a way to pay tribute to the comics legend, she eventually began to move forward with her life. And so she wondered:

“When do you take it off?”

Today, fans in Cleveland can see the result of her reply.

This afternoon at 2 (Ohio time), Brabner will help unveil the Harvey Pekar Library Statue: Comics as Art & Literature Desk. The project is the result of years of work, donations of time and funds (more than $38,000 was raised through Kickstarter) and vocal support from such fellow legends as Alan Moore.

[PEKAR REMEMBERED: Colleagues and collaborators mourn a sweet ‘curmudgeon’]


Joyce Brabner and Harvey Pekar, from the feature film “American Splendor,” based on their lives and the pioneering autobiographical comics. (./PHOTO BY JOHN CLIFFORD, HBO/COUR)

“There’s a large drawer — you pull it out and it’s actually a display case of artifacts,” Brabner tells Comic Riffs. “On the flip side is a gridded blackboard where people can draw their comics.”

Also in the desk is a copy of “Rufus M.,” from Eleanor Estes’s tales of the Moffat family; Brabner says that’s the book that introduced the boy Harvey to social realism.

Besides Brabner, also on hand for the presentation will be artist J.T. Waldman, who illustrated Pekar’s final graphic novel, “Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me.” The statue was created by Cleveland-area artist Justin Coulter, but Pekar’s widow says many hands helped shape the project into a reality. 

“I got an international team of sculptors and artisans. ... ,” says Brabner, who notes: “This is not a Harvey Pekar statue. This is a ‘Comics As Arts and Literature’ desk with Harvey as a sculpture. Harvey is the dominant motif [with a bronze] comic-book page he steps out of.”

And so what did Brabner decide to do, exactly, with that ring?

“I put my wedding ring into the sculpture,” she tells Comic Riffs. “We melted it in.

“It was time [for it] to go, and this is certainly the best place to put it.”

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Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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