District Comics

Edited by Matt Dembicki 


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.

Reader Activities

Tour the Monuments

For more information about the monuments throughout Washington, DC, you can watch this video or look at this website.

Now, choose your favorite monument, and using what you've learned in the fact sheet about each monument, design a 4- or 6-panel comic strip to detail the history associated with the monument. You might need to do a little more research to bring the characters to live, or to uncover even more exciting stories associated with the monument. Think "Action!" - that's the key to making your comic come alive.

Live Action Reporting

In "Burn, Washington, Burn!", Dolley Madison had to respond quickly to protect several important works of art, including an important painting of George Washington when the British army advanced on DC, intent on burning the city and the White House with it.

The comic form is one way of telling this story. In a recent blogpost, Maryland state archeologists tell the story in another way - like a live-action report, complete with illustrations and photos.

Compare and contrast the amount of information you read in each type of text, the comic or blog. Which do you think tells the story most effectively? How about most accurately? And which do you think you'll remember most clearly? Why?

A Broader View

District Comics focuses on the history of one specific area over many years. For a look at what was happening elsewhere during those times, check out these videos 

  • A video on the Star Spangled Banner 
  • A video about the nation's cemetery, in Arlington 

Take a moment to research a few of the following monuments:

  • Cesar Chavez National Monument in Keene, California 
  • Harriet Tubman National Monument in Church Creek, Maryland
  • George Washington Carter National Monument in Diamond, Missouri 
  • Little Bighorn Battle National Monument in Crow Agency, Montana 
  • Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois 

Choose either one monument found in District Comics or outside of Washington DC.  Take the story, or point in time, and use it to launch a research project on how the monument reflects what was happening during that time period.  Was it a war?  Was it a Civil Rights movement? 

Now, find a way YOU want to tell the story. You can write a paper, film a short video, or write a song to commemorate the event. If you're interested in the history, tell it in a way that interests you!

Supplemental Videos and Materials 

Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, discusses the brand new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, a recent addition to America's greatest monuments. 

Turning 130 in 2016, New York City's monument The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on Oct. 28, 1886, after a long and tortured journey from an idea to execution.