One of Harvey Pekar’s posthumous projects, CLEVELAND, will be published by a new publisher, ZIP, and distributed by Top Shelf. Drawn by Joseph Remnant, one of the Pekar Project artists (shown left and below), CLEVELAND is, as the title suggests, an ode to Pekar’s muse, the city of Cleveland, with a history including the Indians, the great Cuyahoga fire and more.
ZIP is owned by Josh Frankel, author of several self-published comics, who is looking to get increasingly involved with the publishing end. Top Shelf will offer publishing and marketing support.
The late great Harvey Pekar pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic beginning in 1976 with his American Splendor comics (and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Pekar as himself), and later with graphic novels like Our Cancer Year (with Joyce Brabner & Frank Stack) and The Quitter (with Dean Haspiel) and webcomics with The Pekar Project up until his passing on July 12, 2010.
Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND will be a 112-page graphic novel written by Harvey, illustrated by Pekar Project artist Joseph Remnant, edited by Jeff Newelt, and published by newcomer ZIP Comics in collaboration with indie comix veteran Top Shelf. Top Shelf will be providing ZIP with their distribution network, marketing support, a slot in their catalog, and booth signings by Joseph at conventions.
“It’s a privilege to publish one of my idols, especially a graphic novel with such breathtaking art by Joseph who really hit it out of the park, in this case Cleveland’s Progressive Field,” says Josh Frankel, president, ZIP Comics. “And its a true honor & treat to work with Top Shelf who put out so many of my favorite graphic novels like Blankets, Super Spy, and Jeffrey Brown’s terrific books.”
The graphic novel will be composed of 50% history of Cleveland and its characters and 50% autobiography. “The script was complete before Harvey passed and twenty pages had already been finished by Joseph,” says Jeff Newelt, editor of The Pekar Project and Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND. “So our man did get to see the book’s beginning and was super-pleased with how the art was shaping up.”
Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND covers familiar American Splendor-ous territory while weaving in chunks of Cleveland history, including the Indians winning the 1948 World Series, the notorious 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River as well as profiles of Cleveland “characters” like Charles Ruthenberg, leader of the city’s Communist party whose ashes were buried in the Kremlin wall. And of course cameos by Pekarverse regulars like Toby the Genuine Nerd, Mr. Boats and Harvey’s wife Joyce.
“We jumped at the chance to play a part in the publication of this historic and exquisitely crafted comic,” says Chris Staros, publisher, Top Shelf Productions. “Long time fans are in for something special.”
This is Remnant’s first full-length work. His previous Pekar Project collaborations include “Legendary Vienna,” “Sweeping Problem,” “Muncie Part 1” and “Muncie Part 2.” He recently wrote / illustrated a self-published a one-shot “Blindspot.”
Free prints of the Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND cover will be available 4/9 & 4/10 at MoCCA at both the ZIP Comics and Top Shelf Booths, as well as at the MoCCA pre-party co-sponsored by ZIP & Top Shelf.
[Note: All images taken from The Pekar Project}
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.