D.C. comic books get a nudge at Smudge




Comic books have never been as mainstream and popular as they are now. These days, it’s rare to find someone who can’t name at least one Avenger or tell you what mythical metal Wolverine’s claws are made of. But for indie publishers and small-press cartoonists who don’t have Marvel levels of fame, finding an audience can be tricky. Luckily, Smudge Expo is here to help.

Co-founded by local comic creator Matt Dembicki and event manager Tina Henry, the expo packs tables at Artisphere with the work of D.C.’s up-and-coming cartoonists, storytellers and experts. To set it apart from the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Dembicki says he “wanted to have a show that was almost entirely local folks.”

Here are some of the exhibitors and sessions to check out Saturday at this year’s Smudge:

Comics in the classroom
1-1:50 p.m.
Four area teachers will talk about using comic books as teaching tools. One of the speakers, Wilson High School teacher Mary Ann Zehr, says she plans to discuss how she shows her English as a Second Language students
a graphic novel, then asks them to create a comic strip about a historic event of their choosing.

‘Root Hog or Die’
2-3:45 p.m.
This Kickstarter-funded documentary follows the work and life of “King-Cat Comics & Stories” creator and zine legend John Porcellino. Like his work, Porcellino is rough around the edges but funny and charming. The film tracks the comic book creator as he embarks on a nationwide art tour.

Race in comics
3-3:50 p.m.
This panel brings together three local creators and publishers to talk about the importance of including race and gender diversity in today’s comics. “I’m looking for permanence,” says panelist and Rosarium Publishing owner Bill Campbell. “It’s not like Sam Wilson’s going to stay Captain America. It’s not like Ms. Marvel will stay Arab. At any given moment, all that could go away.”

‘Cuddles and Rage’ cupcake character workshop
4-4:50 p.m.
Liz and Jimmy Reed, the married couple behind mixed-media webcomic “Cuddles and Rage,” will host a workshop to show kids how to mold scrumptious-looking sentient cupcakes out of clay. Little attendees can then pose their cupcake characters inside one of the comic’s trademark dioramas. 4-4:50 p.m.

‘Banchan in Two Pages’
All day
“I definitely want people to make actual food from my comics,” says Robin Ha, author of the Korean food webcomic and soon-to-be-published cookbook “Banchan in Two Pages.” Ha will occupy a table and exhibit sample copies of her illustrated Korean cooking guides. “By making it into a simple comic form, I want people to say, ‘Oh, this is really easy, maybe I’ll try to make it.’ ”

Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Sat., noon-6 p.m., free

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