March 2013 Issue
March 2013 Digest
Comic artistry, Irish music, historic collectibles and a college record label's new release.
Alumni of Oakwood High School in Montgomery County should check their yearbooks. If yours is signed with a doodle and the autograph “Joseph Remnant,” it might soon have special worth. Remnant, a 2000 graduate of the suburban Dayton school, is on his way to becoming one of America’s top comic book and graphic novel illustrators.
His biggest claim to fame of late: Landing the plum assignment of illustrating Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, a graphic novel penned by the late writer and recently published by Zip Comics and Top Shelf Productions. Pekar, who died in 2010, was an underground comic book writer from Cleveland Heights whose autobiographical American Splendor series was adapted for film in 2003.
In Cleveland, a New York Times bestseller, Pekar reflected on pivotal points of his life by weaving them into an
urban tapestry. He spotlighted whom and what he considered to be the historical characters and events that make the northeast Ohio city what it is.
“The most challenging part of doing Cleveland was all the research about period clothing,” says the 30-year-old Remnant. “My favorite part was illustrating the real personal stories. Harvey had a knack for those.”
Remnant attended the University of Cincinnati and vacillated between a career in art or music. Although he still enjoys jamming on the guitar with his four brothers whenever they get together, art won out.
“I decided I wasn’t cut out for the touring lifestyle,” he reflects. “I liked the feeling of secluding myself in the basement and creating more than I liked going out to bars and playing live.
“But,” Remnant is quick to add, “art and music can be similar. Comics have a rhythmic quality. Each panel in a comic [has] its own beat.”
Although he misses working with Pekar’s words, Remnant has plenty on the drawing table to keep him busy. He’s a regular contributor to Arthur Magazine, a Los Angeles underground arts publication, and is working on Blindspot, “a one-man anthology of comics.” Remnant also writes Cartoon Clouds, a comic book series he publishes in free installments on The Expositor, his shared webcomic website. On April 13 and 14, the illustrator will be a presenter at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) 2013, held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus. — Jill Sell
To view Remnant’s latest work, visit theexpositorcomics.com. For more information about SPACE 2013, visit backporchcomics.com
Celebrating the Green
The song’s been recorded by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Celtic Thunder and just about everyone in between. But if you really want to hear “Danny Boy,” the wildly popular and unofficial anthem of Irish Americans, head to Ohio Village in Columbus this month. Rumor has it that the rendition sung by Mike Follin is guaranteed not to leave a dry eye in the house. Follin, the Ohio Historical Society’s coordinator of interpretive services, will be one of the entertainers taking the stage during From the Pubs of Ireland, the candlelight dinner that will be held at the village’s American House Hotel (adjacent to the Ohio History Center) March 15 and 16. (Think cream of leek soup, shepherd’s pie and cheesecake drizzled with whiskey caramel sauce.) Irish music, stories and a wee bit of Irish humor round out the fun.
Follin, who’s also a member of the Ohio Village Singers, is “100 percent Irish,” tracing his heritage to County Roscommon. His ancestors were among the earliest immigrants to arrive in America during the early 1700s.
“At this event, we bring history in both song and story to a personal level,” says Follin. “Everyone is familiar with Irish music, but we add another layer — the how and why a song came about. The Fields of Athenry is a favorite we sing every year. But it’s not just words on a paper. It is someone’s story [about the Irish famine of the 1840s].”
Since no one can make you cry — or laugh — like an Irishman, Follin says the evening wouldn’t be complete without “some of the funny stuff, the wink-wink, nudge-nudge humor that is just a little naughty.
“But,” he adds, “what I want people to understand is the oneness and camaraderie that the Irish are so famous for. Even in spite of famine, oppression and leaving their homes to come to America, they never lost sight of who or what they were.” — JS
For information, call 800/686-1541 or visit ohiohistory.org. Reservations required by March 11
Music to Our Ears
The Oberlin College Conservatory of Music is already world-renowned for its live performances. Now, the institution is perfectly poised to become known for recorded ones, too.
The college’s five-year-old record label, Oberlin Music, releases high-quality recordings from the conservatory’s musical groups. Each features the work of talented students and Grammy-winning faculty. (The latest, “A Place Toward Other Places,” by the Contemporary Music Ensemble, was released on January 18. It features clarinetist Richard Hawkins performing a concerto by composer Elliot Carter.) Although several of the recordings — including “The Oberlin Conservatory Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall” — were taped off-site, it’s the educational opportunities offered by those made in the college’s top-of-the-line recording studio that have the label’s founder, David Stull, most excited.
“We put a lot of time into this label in order to use it effectively and tie it into curriculum for our students,” says Stull, who’s also the dean of Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music.
It’s no wonder Stull speaks so enthusiastically of the endeavor: Students get to help in the studio — an invaluable opportunity afforded few college musicians or aspiring engineers. Recordings are released digitally and on CD, frequently selling out their initial pressing of 1,000 copies. And with three to six recordings on track to be released annually, the label’s growth seems imminent.
“My view is that within 10 years, the label [will be] one of the major producers of music worldwide,” says Stull, explaining his vision for the future.
“Essentially,” he adds, “[listeners] are looking to this source to find really interesting music recorded at the highest level by the best artists in the world. And these projects will incorporate our students into them.” — Ilona Westfall
To browse Oberlin Music’s catalog, visit www2.oberlin.edu/oberlinmusic.
Birth of a State
March marks the anniversary of Ohio statehood, and a great opportunity
for a short primer on Ohio history. For example, did you know that the
first state capital was the charming town of Chillicothe? In 1802, such
renowned figures as Thomas Worthington, Edward Tiffin and Thomas
Jefferson worked with a small army of political leaders to gain
statehood for Ohio, recognizing the possibility of rapid development
along the important waterways in the region.
Because of Chillicothe’s prime location on the Scioto River, on March 1,
1803, the Ohio General Assembly met for the first time in Ross County
and began the work of building the Buckeye State. In the shadow of these
leaders were people who were also busy building farms, businesses,
schools and families in prospering small towns along rivers, canals and,
of course, Lake Erie.
Noted historian Frederick Jackson Turner proclaimed in an address
delivered to the Ohio Valley Historical Association in 1909, “The Ohio
Valley has not only a local history worthy of study, a rich heritage to
its people, but [has also been] an independent and powerful force in
shaping the development of a nation.”
Each May, Garth’s spotlights Ohio’s heritage with the Ohio Valley
Auction — celebrating more than 200 years of artistry, craftsmanship and
history. For more information about The Ohio Valley Auction, or
collecting all things Ohio, visit garths.com/collecting
“Ohio Finds” features fascinating objects brought to the attention of Amelia and Jeff Jeffers, co-owners of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, an international firm outside Columbus.