THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Matt Dembicki

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People,Aubrey Whelan

Dembicki isn't a D.C. native, but that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm for the long and tumultuous history of the nation's capital. A member of the DC Conspiracy, a collective of comic book creators and graphic novelists, he's just edited and released an anthology of lesser-known stories about D.C.'s history, told in comic book form. He called it "District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, D.C."

How did you get into comics in the first place?

I started reading comics when I was probably about 6 or 7 years old. My parents were Polish immigrants -- I didn't have too many opportunities to speak English. My mom read in a local newspaper that some schools were using comics to help kids read and so she would buy them from the newsstand at the bus stop. I started reading them, and as I got older, I kept reading them and got interested in drawing them as well.

Why did you decide to focus on D.C. history for this book?

I did a mini-comic about the Heurich Mansion in Dupont Circle, and we had such a great reception to that little book. It kind of got me thinking about other aspects of the history of Washington that people might not know about. People don't get quite the profile that other monuments and figures in the city do, but there are lots of stories in here that touch on a national perspective. We have a story about the funeral of John F. Kennedy, told from the perspective of the trumpeter who played taps at the funeral. He botched one of the notes. It devastated him. ... There are stories behind the stories.

What is your favorite story in the book?

The story about Brian Kelly, the spy -- it's a more contemporary story. He was a CIA employee accused of being a spy for the Russians. ... On each page, there's two stories going on the same time -- it's kind of a unique way to tell that story.

- Aubrey Whelan

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