At Cool Cleveland, writer Susan Petrone recalls Harvey Pekar:
Harvey and Joyce ended up buying a house down the street from my mom — the house where I grew up. My mom actually makes a small appearance in Our Cancer Year (she’s the neighbor who drives Harvey to the hospital when they have car trouble). I cat sat for Inky, the skinny black cat, the summer after I graduated from college and was slacking around the Heights, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I remember sitting in my mother’s backyard, talking to Harvey about writing. He suggested I try writing in comic form (I guess now you’d call it graphic novel form). I told him I didn’t know how, or didn’t know that I thought in that form. He started drawing some little boxes and stick figures as we talked. I wish I had saved that piece of paper. It didn’t seem that important at the time. I was always running into Harvey. He was part of Cleveland; he was always around. I guess I never thought there would come a time when Harvey wasn’t.
My own favorite story about living in the Heights also involves Harvey. This would have been 2005, I think, when I was editor of Free Times and Harvey was an occasional contributor. I was showering one morning when my wife knocked on the door and said, “Harvey Pekar is here.” I’d told him that I would pick up his latest column at his house, but apparently he’d decided to deliver it to me instead. “OK,” I said to my wife, “tell him I’ll call him when I get to the office.” “He said he would wait,” she replied. “He’s watching SpongeBob with Daniel” (our then-4-year-old son).
In journalism the constant exposure to ego radiation can damage your own DNA. So to this day I marvel that an artist of Harvey’s stature would write for a low-paying local weekly, and hand-deliver his work, and wait for a nobody like me, watching cartoons with a little kid. Curmudgeon or not, he was a good man.