Penn State professor surprised by feature in deceased author's book

July 27, 2011

Altoona, Pa. — Jerry Zolten, associate professor of communications at Penn State Altoona, received quite a surprise when he discovered that he was drawn in some panels of the late Harvey Pekar's newest book, "Huntingdon, West Virginia 'On the Fly'". Zolten was friends with Pekar, an American underground comic book writer, for about six years before Pekar died, even working together on a one-hour radio program for Penn State Public Broadcasting called "Boppin' With Pekar."

During that time, Pekar became interested in the story of local couple Eileen and Tunc Akin. Eileen worked at Public Broadcasting and was a co-producer of "Boppin' With Pekar." Pekar spoke at length with the couple for a story about their relationship, and in the course of that story, Eileen described how she had become, through Zolten, a co-producer of the 2003 radio program "Chimpin' the Blues." Pekar decided to include that in the story of the Akins, titled "Tunc and Eileen: Their Ups and Downs," which is found in his new book.

Zolten said he knew Pekar was working on the story but had no idea that it had been published or that he was in it until two weeks ago when he got a congratulatory e-mail from one of Pekar's collaborators. "When I first saw the strip," Zolten recalls, "an involuntary smile took over my face and the thought 'unreal!' crossed my mind. I was thrilled to see that I had become an inhabitant of a Harvey Pekar story!"

To view the comic strip, go to


  • In 2007, a panel discussion, 'Graphic Novels: A Conversation,' featuring Harvey Pekar, right, and Phoebe Gloeckner, left, two active artists in the field of graphic novels, was held on Penn State's University Park campus. Jerry Zolten, center, moderated the discussion.

    IMAGE: Wilson Hutton

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 28, 2011