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District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC
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District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  131 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
District Comics is a graphic anthology featuring lesser-known stories about Washington, DC, from its earliest days as a rustic settlement along the swampy banks of the Potomac to the modern-day metropolis. Spanning 1794-2009, District Comics stops along the way for a duel, a drink in the Senate's speakeasy, a look into the punk scene, and much more.

Featuring stories by:

Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Fulcrum Publishing
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(showing 1-30)
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Michael Rhode
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm an author of a story in the book so don't trust my rating

May 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a volume that cries out for editorial control. The approach appears to have been "choose a DC themed story that interests you and develop it". This resulted in a book that is very uneven. Some few of the stories are excellently told tales of little known people who created or typify the city ("101 miles of Monument" really stands out here, along with "Dark was the Night").

But most are under-researched event stories ("Burn, Washington, Burn" for example) or biographies that take ten pages
It's a great concept - a bunch of short nonfiction pieces, chronologically arranged, about the history of a particular city. In this case, Washington, D.C.
Dembicki, the editor, is good at that part of this process of creating a collection. Of coming up with a hooky concept.
However, if I'd realized he was also the mind behind Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection, I might have steered clear.

And my caution would have been legit... The execution quality of these pieces is pretty
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was just "OK" for me. I enjoyed learning little known historical facts about D.C., but some were better than others. There were those that I didn't particularly like the vehicles they used to bring the story to life. An example would be the attempted assassination of President Truman by some Puerto Rican Nationalists which ended with a gun fight in front of Blair House. I just so happened to have read a book on that last year, so I knew the details of what happened. The author of the comic ...more
Thomas Simpson
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought that this was going to be a history of DC as a graphic novel, instead it's the Fantasia of DC history: several unrelated vignettes in completely different artistic styles that range from average to extraordinary. My favorites were the ones from the 1960s onwards, especially "Dark was the Night," "Spytini," "101 Miles of Monument," "Ego Shine," and "Design and Detail." These ones particularly highlighted the qualities that I wanted to see, as a resident of the District because they're t ...more
Emilia P
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
I really liked this as an idea, and liked a lot of the comics individually, and appreciated the variety of tales, but it didn't all come together for me, in the end. I suppose that is the nature of an anthology. Read if you have a soft spot for this weird little town, I spose. Or spies, or military medical history, or tin foil altars. Yep. It's all there.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adults and teens.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This graphic novel is an extremely entertaining and surprising compendium of vignettes about District of Columbia history, colorful characters, etc, ranging from a man who supplied liquor to Congress during Prohibition, to an unfortunate FBI agent who was mistakenly taken for Hansen by the CIA and whose life was subsequently ruined when he was mistakenly arrested and let go by the FBI, from the story of a DC punk band to the story of the bugler who played taps at JFK's burial at Arlington, from ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I received this as a gift some time ago, glanced at it and set it aside. This past week I returned. I was particularly interested in the comic on the design of the Metro and the Vietnam War Memorial. There were other comics that interested me in flashes.

However, my inexperience as a graphic novel reader arrived in bumbling fashion. I had trouble appreciating the words and the pictures together and I didn't always know whether to read left to right or up and down. I think that added some dissatis
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
District Comics was interesting. The unique history kept me in the book however I found that the stories were not expanded on enough. There needed to be fewer stories that went into greater detail. The writing was not up to an adult reader's standards. They were more for a middle school student. The graphics were ok but the lettering was absolutely horrible. This distracted from the artwork. Over all a 3/5 but I still enjoyed it more than other books I've read in the past. (It was a great Christ ...more
Audrey Babkirk Wellons
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
There are some really interesting stories in here from all walks of Washington DC history, but the majority of the comic art just didn't wow me. And neither did the storytelling--a few were told in a kind of tired frame story (e.g., "Son, did I ever tell the story of so-and-so . . . ?"), others had a really contrived way of making facts into first-person history (e.g., the story of a single reporter that saw X event happen), and some were more like descriptions than narratives.

I was disappointed
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A hit or miss collection of illustrated history and some more personal tales of the District. Presumably by local artists since I had about 5 sign my copy at SPX last year.

The variety of styles was nice, though a few were particularly awful in concept and art or tried to reach farther than a strip in a compliation can manage. Mostly I enjoyed the hidden tidbits of history like the boot black going to court to be a street vendor, or the illustrated words of Whitman and his encounters with dying s
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable.

Contributors utilize a variety of styles to convey several stories about the history of DC.

What I most enjoyed is that many of the stories focused on the so called "little people" or people behind the scenes and their perspectives on history--the bugler at President Kennedy's funeral, a bartendar who waited on a spy, a bootlegger who kept his Congressional customers satisfied (to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel).

Overall a nice read for anyone interested in DC's history who also
Jessica Fure
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ran through this in an hour at the library. I didn't skip, or skim - I read it completely and loved it. Even the stories I liked less - maybe the art wasn't my favorite, maybe the story didn't flow as well as others - were good. But more often than not, this book was one perfect, compelling note after another. I don't even CARE about DC's history, even though I live here - give me NYC or London any day - and yet, I could still tell this book had rolled up why people love this town, making me und ...more
This is an odd, but interesting collection of stories about the District of Columbia. The quality of the stories and illustrations vary, but on the whole, I really appreciated learning some of the lesser-known tales of the area.

I'm not sure why, but it took me a very long time to read this book. I would only get one story in every couple of days and it was set aside numerous times in favor of other books. Still, it was an entertaining read and I'm glad I discovered it at our local library.
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
There were so many great stories in this book: Walt Whitman volunteering as a nurse during the civil war, James Hampton, the sculptor of the Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millenium General Assembly (the amazing tin foil folk art sculpture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum), the design and construction of Metro and the Vietnam Memorial (Maya Lin was an undergrad at Yale, and got a B), and why the Bad Brains were banned in DC.
The stories were really interesting, but there was no
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
The stories offer a fragmented picture of DC, but they may not be to everyone's taste. For example, I thought the spy story was pretty boring, and I skipped the punk rock story entirely. The tribute to Walt Whitman is touching and gorgeously drawn. Overall, I'm glad I got it from the library rather than buying it, but it did introduce me to some new artists and provided a view of DC that isn't often seen.
Aug 01, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I have a story in the book so I can't give it a star rating. I will say that I definitely enjoyed it. I've lived in DC for over 13 years now and a lot of these stories were completely new to me so that's pretty awesome. It's kind of a jerk move to name favorites but I will say I loved them all equally but was maybe .00001% MORE in love with Jeff Barrus and Jacob Warrenfeltz Rolling Thunder story. But a really good book - I'd give a high rating if I could.
Sarah Souther
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This history goes beyond the usual suspects. Sure, there's a piece about the duel that ultimately killed Stephen Decatur and the story of British soldiers in the Madison White House. There are also stories of artists such as the visionary/folk artist James Hampton and Bad Brains when they played the 9:30 club and Madam's Organ. The quality of the storytelling and art varies widely, but each little piece of history serves as a nice counterpoint to the story you see at the National Mall.
Geoff Sebesta
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
A somewhat aimless collection, undone by shaky art and a meandering story. It's all about DC, but there's no overarching narrative and nothing to tie the stories together besides rough chronological order, and some of the stories just don't belong in here. What the heck is the point of the story with Reagan and the acorns?

Collections like this really need a framing sequence and a stronger editorial hand.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
While a great idea to tell DC's history through several short comics by different authors, the book itself is kind of uneven. Some are interesting and great, and some are not. Too many of the stories lean on a first person narrator. And while the introduction claims to focus on local history, many of the stories are your regular national historical events that happen to be in DC. I was hoping for more local things.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really liked this collection of short historic DC-related comic stories. I would have liked to see more stories from the early days of the city, but this was overall an interesting read. Some of the topics drew me in so much that I went out and did some more reading on them. A worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in DC history.
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Much like with Dembicki's other anthology, Trickster, I felt the idea was GENIUS but the execution was lacking. Some of the art was unattractive, and some of the stories were boring. But at the end of the day I learned a lot about DC's history that I hadn't known, and the book was mostly pretty enjoyable. The piece on Benjamin Banneker is my favorite.
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
From Colonial-era Georgetown through Obama-era downtown, more than three dozen cartoonists weave a richly textured tapestry of the capital.

“Most people think of D.C. as center stage for national politics and iconic monuments, but it’s more than that; if you scratch the surface, you’ll uncover a city rich in history, offbeat tales and unique personalities.”
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a nice collection of short comic-style vignettes about the history of Washington, DC. Nice for the tourist or the student of history who wants to get some more detail than the skimpy bits provided in the history textbook.
Marge Shaffer
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection of stories of the District are somewhat uneven, but for the most part very enjoyable. Good art throughout. Only true historians will not learn something. A good jumping off point for further reasearch.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Somewhat uneven collection, on both the art and story sides. I often wished the authors had provided a bit more depth and context for their stories, but it's still a decent set of DC-centric vignettes.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excerpt -- On Communication
In the end -- and James knew this well -- communication must transcend the literal to become the spiritual. Just as reality, in the final analysis, must eventually exceed the material.
Justin Lee
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This was interesting enough, but it wasn't great. I felt like many of the comics could've been longer. The art was hit or miss, but the intent and the purpose stayed true. This was a nice little dip into DC's past and tales that rarely get told.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
It was ok, a little hit or miss. Some of the more amateur looking stories really bothered me with how low quality the work was. Better than most local history books though and the stories they told were fairly solid.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book didn't come together for me. I love DC and its history, but only a few stories grabbed my attention. It might find a better audience in the Juvenile non-fiction section, rather than Adult fiction.
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