SMUDGE! Expo in Virginia Focuses on The Next Generation of Creators

By John Shine

Saturday March 8, 2014, marks the debut of the Smudge! Expo at the Artisphere Cultural Center in Arlington, VA.


Co-organized by art entrepreneur Tina Henry and Matt Dembicki, Eisner Award-nominated artist and editor of the acclaimed anthology Trickster, Smudge! is intended to generate interest in creating comics among the younger generation, by showcasing self-published comics, along with workshops on watercolors and doing your own animation and editorial cartoons.

Smudge! is described as "a new arts expo meant to showcase independent comics and inspire attendees to become storytellers themselves." In an exclusive email to Bleeding Cool, Dembicki explains:

We want to cultivate an appreciation of storytelling. The emphasis is on getting your creative juices flowing and making your own comics, as well as sampling the works of the writers and artists who'll be at the show.

Over 40 exhibitors will be on hand, displaying mini-comics and handing out advice for young artists on publishing their own comics. Included in attendance will be members of a group of predominantly Washington, D.C. area cartoonists called D.C. Conspiracy, of which Dembicki is an original member. Available at the show will be the group's latest issue of Magic Bullet, a free bi-annual home-grown comics anthology.


The D.C. region has been a fertile ground for producing professional cartoonists and comics artists over the years, from its scores of political cartoonists to comics artists like Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and Frank Cho. D.C. Conspiracy looks to continue this tradition.

Smudge! is the latest community outreach project on the part of D.C. Conspiracy, in the past having organized and contributed to art shows raising public awareness of the comics art form, and even a recent blood drive, Artists Draw Blood.

Smudge! will be open Saturday, March 8, 2014, from noon to 6 pm. For more information, go to

John Shine has worked in comics retail in Maryland for over half his life, and has occasionally created some comics himself.

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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