Wednesday, July 31, 2013

mr. big, by carol and matt dembicki (sky pony press)

About ten years ago I read an article in the DC City Paper featuring an artist who made comics based on a real life giant snapping turtle. His name is Matt Dembicki, who, with his wife Carol, who wrote a good portion of the book, live in Fairfax, Virginia. Their idea for the book sprang from walks they took to a nearby pond in Vienna, Virginia. When I went to check out Matt's website, I was amazed at this cool, unique book about the adventures of local pond life, which was such a refreshing alternative to the typical super hero fare you would expect from most comics. The pond itself, which I've visited, is teeming with snapping turtles and other cool wildlife, however I never had the chance to spot the elusive Mr. Big himself. At that time, Matt had only released a couple of small, self-published zine-style books of Mr. Big, which was supposed to be a one-off, but turned into six little books that eventually got compiled into a black and white graphic novel released by Little Foot Publishing five or so years ago. I still have copies of all the originals, which have some of the most beautiful covers (for a comic book) I've seen. 

After reading that article about Matt and his book in the paper, I immediately contacted him to see if he could do a workshop with my students at the school I teach art at. We had a grant available at the time, so I thought Matt would be great for my kids to learn something new. Matt responded the next day with a yes, and he ended up visiting for the next four years. Carol even made it over a couple of times as well. The workshops turned out to be fantastic, but unfortunately, the grant funding had dried up and we weren't able to have Matt or Carol back again. The good news is that Mr. Big is back, and published as a gorgeous full-color graphic novel through Sky Pony Press! Matt gave me a copy when I visited him last week, and it's exactly how it should be, though I think it's worthy of a nice hard-bound cover, like his other recently-released g.n. about the adventures of a Great White shark,  called "Xoc" (Oni Press). Anyhow, the Mr. Big book appeals to all ages and makes a worthy addition to collectors of comics, graphic novels, and books in general. I know I'll be purchasing quite a few more for myself and my art class library as well! In the meantime, a pic (below) of some (kissing?) turtles taken last week at a local pond Kris and I visit all the time, which we'll soon be living by.