About Harvey Pekar, Father of Graphic Novels

Cleveland’s own Harvey Pekar (1939-2010), creator of American Splendor comics and known as the father of graphic novels, has two remembrances of him at the Cleveland Public Library. At the main library, or any of its branches, you can get a library card with an image of Harvey Pekar while he was using the library branch in Cleveland. His use of the library greatly informed his autobiographical graphic novels.

At the University Heights branch is a bronze statue inside the library atop a desk with supplies for writing and drawing. Articles in Publishers Weekly and Cleveland.com explain Cleveland’s efforts to maintain Pekar’s memory.

“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.” — publishersweekly.com

Read general information about the branch here: heightslibrary.org.

Television Appearances

Pekar was a frequent guest on the popular late-night talk show “The David Letterman Show” in the 1980s. Read about it here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2015/05/20.

“It seemed to me you could do anything in comics. So I started doing my thing, which is mainly influenced by novelists, stand-up comedians, that sort of thing.” — Harvey Pekar

A Popular Cleveland Literary Gem Nearby

Historic Cleveland has had a resurgence in recent years. Near the South Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, visitors can tour A Christmas Story House and Museum, the home used in the filming of the holiday classic based on a memoir written by Jean Shepherd.

The Cleveland Public Library University Heights Branch and The Christmas Story House and Museum are the final stops on our Ohio Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart