A lot happens in Washington, DC, every day that is weird and interesting and deserving of legendary status. This new anthology collection tells 22 legends and tales of life in and around our nation's capital from some 40 creators, and spans the timespan from 1794 to the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008.
Most of the short tales included in this book veer away from telling stories about the men who've lived in the White House. Instead we get many stories about the people who live in the city. For instance, Chad Lambert and Kevin Czapiewski tell the story of the freed black man who helped map the future streets of the city. "National Pastime" by Jason Rodriguez and Charles Fetherholf is a tale about the city's great baseball team of the 19th century. And "Ego Shine" by Matt Dermicki tells the surprising story of a man who gives up his great job in the 1980s to follow his dream of becoming a shoeshine.
Other stories tell anecdotes about famous moments in American history: "Taps" by Rebecca Goldfield and Paul W. Zdepski takes place at the funeral for John F. Kennedy. "Skip Dillon, Son of the B.E.F" by Michael Cowgill and Rand Arrington is about the Bonus Marchers who came to Washington during the Depression. "Crow and Panda" by Steve Loya is about the baby giant panda born in the National Zoo.
And we also do get anecdotes about our Presidents — Carol Dembicki and Michael Brace's "A Clear Message," a rather fawning piece about Ronald Reagan; the tale by Art Haupt and Rafer Roberts about an assassination attempt on Harry Truman; and the surprisingly sweet "Vinnie and Abe" by Tabitha Whissimore and Mike Freiheit, which concentrates on a bust being made of Abraham Lincoln.
Most of the stories are straightforward and do as much telling of the story as of showing. In many stories, the art seems to only be illustrating the story being told, rather than art and story working together. But some stories are more interesting. Peter S. Conrad's "Karat" uses clever layouts and an interesting page design to tell his story effectively. And "101 Miles of Monument" by Jim Ottovani and Nick Souanis does a nice job of moving the reader back and forth through time to tell the story of the development of the DC Metro system — a surprisingly entertaining little story.
Every anthology will have its share of hits and misses, and this one has a slightly lower ratio of hits than many other anthology. But people who care about the subject matter will love this book anyway. I definitely enjoyed hearing lots of details I never knew about Washington, DC.