SPX Spotlight 2014: Matt Dembicki Edits "Wild Ocean"

Welcome to another entry in the 2014 SPX Spotlight series!  For the next month, Panel Patter will be highlighting creators and publishers who will be at one of the best conventions, the Small Press Expo.  You can check out all of Panel Patter's spotlights for SPX from both this year and prior years here.

Like several members of the Capital-area artist collective DC Conspiracy, I've been reading Matt Dembicki's comics for years, and his best work--which is saying something--is always when Matt is drawing comics with nature as their primary theme. His shark comic, Xoc (review here), which started as a mini and ended up being an acclaimed graphic novel from Oni Press, was a clinic on how to create the paper version of a nature documentary.

In addition to his work as an artist, Dembicki is also an editor, also receiving praise and recognition for his work first on Trickster (an anthology of Native American legends that included Native Americans as creators) and then District Comics, featuring "hidden history" stories about Washington, DC.

Now Dembicki has gone to the next natural step (if you'll pardon the pun) with the new collection from Fulcrum Publishing, Wild Ocean: Sharks, Whales, Rays, and Other Endangered Sea Creatures, which was released earlier this year. The anthology contains 12 stories about endangered sea animals and Matt notes that part of the proceeds go to PangeaSeed, which is "an ocean conservation organization that does outreach through art."

Dembicki contributes a chapter, and other artists include Jay Hosler (Clan Apis), Brooke Allen (Lumberjanes), and Pat Lewis (The Claws Come Out), along with several others. More information on Wild Ocean can be found at the publisher's website.

Matt should also have copies of his other anthologies as well and probably some of his mini-comics, depending on what's available. If you want to see Matt at SPX, however, you have to do it on Saturday, because by Sunday, he'll be getting ready to head to Peru(!!) as part of a State Department-sponsored trip to discuss using comics to address the many challenges facing the environment. He'll be judging a comics contest while he's there, all part of a run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima this December.

I couldn't be happier for Matt at this recognition and opportunity. His artwork is amazing, his drive to help preserve what we have left of the natural world is commendable, and best of all, he's a genuinely nice guy. Make sure those of you going to SPX on Saturday go see him--and get an educational anthology while you're at it.