Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

harvey pekars cleveland
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Great art, nice tribute to Cleveland and Pekar

Wish Pekar put more of himself into the first portion of the book

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Harvey Pekars Cleveland

Publisher:  Zip/Top Shelf

Writer:  Harvey Pekar

Artist:  Joseph Remnant

Release Date:   2012

harvey pekars cleveland picture photograph

Harvey’s farewell to his city

Harvey Pekar is Cleveland…and here he tells the city’s tale…much of which is his story.  From this city’s founding to growing up in Cleveland in the ’40s and ’50s to his adult life in ’60s and up, Harvey tells the story of the city he calls home and the city he loves.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland was published by Top Shelf and Zip and features art by Joseph Remnant.  Pekar died in 2010 and this is one of the few big new collections being released after his death. The book features an introduction by Alan Moore and an epilogue by Jimi Izrael.

Harvey’s life was his comic and his comic was his life. It is fitting that he dove into the city that created him for one of his final works. It feels like a nice swan song for a guy who emphasized he didn’t write super-hero comics…since Cleveland isn’t a super-hero city (ask Howard the Duck). It is pretty straightforward and ends with a bit of a whimper…just like Harvey would have wanted it. He wasn’t about the big bangs and dramatic conclusions.

The first half of the story is very historical, and it does jump around a bit which sometimes is jarring. It really feels like stream of consciousness on Pekar’s part where historical aspects of the city of Cleveland sometimes remind him of something he wants to mention…even if it is mentioned later or a bit out of context. I found this portion of the book interesting, but I would have loved to see Harvey tied more into the telling of the history of Cleveland.

harvey pekars cleveland art

Welcome to Harvey’s Cleveland

The second part of the story involves Harvey’s growing up in Cleveland. A lot of this material was covered in issues of American Splendor and in the film, but especially since it is one of his last works, it feels appropriate that he tells his life story again. Real fans can go back into the American Splendor archives for expanded aspects of the story, and the casual reader gets a nice background on Harvey and his life.

Part of Harvey’s writing is the artists he brings in to illustrate his words.  Joseph Remnant does a great job with the telling and is perfect to bring out Harvey.  I wish Crumb had somehow come involved in this story especially since Harvey was an important part of Pekar’s history, and I still would love to see Harvey’s friends and family come together for a retrospective of Harvey…kind of a finale to American Splendor showing Harvey might be gone but his life continues.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is definitely worth checking out. It is a quick read and even if you have no interest in the historical aspect of Cleveland, there is plenty of Harvey Pekar in the story. Pekar’s work was an interesting aspect of comics and storytelling and Cleveland shows how his voice will be missed.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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