Late comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s widow and illustrator to discuss his life, religion in Oct. 17 event

Legendary Cleveland underground comic book author Harvey Pekar’s complicated relationship with his religion, Judaism, will be examined as part of a free, public event Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Thwing Center ballroom.

Pekar’s illustrator, JT Waldman, will introduce Pekar’s posthumously published book, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, and talk about his explorations of Jewish history alongside the writer. Pekar’s widow and literary collaborator, Joyce Brabner, will speak about Pekar’s life, his relationship to Judaism and his views on Israel.

Pekar, whose autobiographical comic book series American Splendor debuted in 1976, died in July 2010 before completing Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Brabner and Waldman collaborated to complete the work, the plot of which takes place during a single day in Cleveland and follows Pekar and Waldman as they grapple with their disagreements over the modern state of Israel. The epic graphic novel also intersperses a comprehensive visual history of the Jewish people from Biblical times to the present.

“Harvey Pekar was a true Cleveland original. With his ‘everyman’ demeanor and skepticism, he brought a fresh voice to everything he wrote on,” said Jay Geller, Samuel Rosenthal Professor of Judaic Studies. “Harvey was raised in a Jewish, Zionist family, and his lifelong relationship with Judaism and Israel was complicated. No doubt, his intriguing and controversial views will spark discussion among attendees, whether they’re fans of his comic books, interested in his thoughts on religion, or both.”

The program is sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University Program in Judaic Studies. Co-sponsors include the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Art History and Art, Department of English and the Popular Culture Working Group and the Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program.

For more information, contact Geller at or 216.368.5156.