September 5, 2012

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SPX 2012/Baltimore Comic-Con Spotlight: Matt Dembicki


Some of the comics folks I like best will be at both Baltimore Comic-Con AND SPX this year, so here's a week of double-spotlights!

You can find all of my SPX Spotlight posts, including those from past years, by clicking here.

You can read all of my Baltimore Comic-Con Spotlights here.

Matt Dembicki is one of the best nature artists I know of, able to make the creatures of the world act natural yet also fit into a narrative element and even speak if necessary, though always in a way that is true to what we as humans know of their character.  In a world where animals are often used as human stand-ins, Dembicki makes them real by looking at what they are, not what we suppose them to be.

As with many of the spotlights, I've been reading Dembicki's work for years, and whether it's sharks, insects, or other creatures, Matt treats them with dignity and respect (unless he's doing an out and out parody).  His book Xoc, published this year, is a nature documentary on the printed page.

Matt's not only interested in nature, however.  He's also done comics on a historic brewery, a great giant monster mashup that was oversized, and other short subjects.  Dembicki is also a great editor, with two books under his belt as well as multiple issues of the tabloid anthology Magic Bullet.  As an editor, Matt shows a keen eye for quality and variety.  While he includes artwork that is non-traditional, it's also quite good.  There are no "just throw this together and submit it" stories in any of the works I've read that he's edited.  Though their style may vary from Dembicki's, it's clear that to make it past him, you have to show a dedicate to making a quality story.

Matt's personal art style is very straightforward, especially when working with nature.  It's not specifically photo-referenced, but you can see that he's looked at how these animals and their environments actually look before sitting down to draw them.  There are still camera angles and panels and things that draw the reader's eye, but for the most part, we encounter Dembicki's world as we would if we were on a safari.  That's incredibly cool to me.  I really wish something like Xoc had existed when I was in school.

For SPX and Baltimore Comic-Con, Matt will have copies of his newly released Xoc (which I highly recommend) as well as a re-release of Mr. Big:  A Tale of Pond Life.  I haven't had a chance to read the latter book yet, but if it's anything like Xoc, it's going to be a must-read for nature fans.

Matt will also have his latest anthology, District Comics.  District Comics tells multiple stories of hidden Washington, DC lore, using the talents of local artists and writers.  I haven't read all of it, but what I have is amazing and anyone who is an obscure history/trivia fan needs to pick this book up immediately.  Contributors include Spotlight creators Rafer Roberts, Curls Studio, and Andrew Cohen, as well as Dembicki himself.

Whether it's people or animals, if you like quality comics with an educational side to them, Matt Dembicki is a man to look for at either Baltimore or SPX this year.

Matt does not have a store, but you can probably find his books in your favorite comic shop, if you live in the Baltimore/DC area, or on a certain online bookstore.