AMBER LOVE 25-OCT-2012 This week on VODKA O’CLOCK, I had the pleasure of exploring a different type of nerdity than I usually get the opportunity to discuss, SHARKS! And it’s not even Shark Week (that’s in August if you don’t remember). MATT DEMBICKI and I met at Locust Moon Comics in Philadelphia where I picked up XOC: THE JOURNEY OF A GREAT WHITE at his book signing. For mere $20, I got the gorgeous hard cover of XOC and Matt threw in his sampler size additions: XOC PUP and XOC ILLUSTRATIONS; plus he took the time to draw his mighty matron of the sea on the title page for me.

This episode does contain spoilers.

This is an hour of oceanic nerdity wherein I mispronounce Matt’s last name, get XOC’S pronounciation right, and introduce brand new theme music for VODKA O’CLOCK – all without getting on too high a soapbox for animal welfare. I think it worked and I think you’ll learn about how XOC can be a great educational aid to anyone you think needs a new graphic novel in his/her life.

Listen here.

XOC is a pregnant Great White shark on her migration from the California coast at the Farallon Islands through the Pacific to Hawaii. Matt’s first shark memory was waking up during a drive-thru screening of JAWS as a child in the back seat of his parents’ car. His love of comics came from his mother. His parents were immigrants and didn’t want Matt to have difficulty learning English so she bought him comics to practice reading the language. What a great mom! Then, as in the case with a lot of teens, Matt put the comics aside for about 15 years. His love was resurrected because of a new love in his life: his first date with his wife where she happened to be carrying SANDMAN with her. (Collective Awwww here).

Originally XOC was a minicomic that Matt created with all black and white illustrations. When ONI Press became interested in publishing it, color artist EVAN KEELING was brought on board. It’s also worth giving credit where credit is due on a beautiful book: it was lettered by ED BRISSON and book design was done by JOSH ELLIOTT and edited by JILL BEATON.

When it comes to environmental issues such as wildlife conservation and oil drilling, there is always going to be people that are passionate and whose minds will never be changed. I hope that if you learned about the detriments of eco-tourism, irresponsible fishing, and pollution, you will be sensibly passionate. Yelling doesn’t seem to help. There are extremists who are basically eco-terrorists. I personally can’t get behind that sort of behavior because to me, it’s more important to bring education and awareness to the agencies who can take action on a greater scale. Here’s my little VODKA O’CLOCK warning: Matt and I discuss things like shark finning, oil drilling, over fishing, and pollution – and I’m happy to say our conversation is completely calm without letting our passions control the points we are trying to make here.

“I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to end the story. Actually I didn’t know until kind of like the very end as I was doing the last couple pages because the last couple pages could go either way.” ~MD

XOC PUP was an online sequel to the grand story. Once she is birthed from her mother’s womb, she encounters her own critical challenges in the ocean. XOC PUP is every bit as intense as the original in a fraction of the pages but her ending (of this short scene in her life) ends a positive and happier note than her mother’s story.

“There’s also kind of a romantic element to the fact that this beast cannot survive and you can’t make a shark a domestic animal especially a Great White. It’s not it’s natural environment and it will perish. I think that whole mystery around is what’s so alluring to us.” ~MD

Aquariums have not been that successful in keeping a Great White in captivity for very long. They are unlike other shark species in that regard. Some do quite well in captivity.

Matt is one of the founders of the comic book collective DISTRICT COMICS based around Washington D.C.


On the IUCN database, there are 257 hits in searching for “shark” on their Red List. The Great White is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN scale which is one rank below “endangered.”


COMIC FUSION HAS MOVED! We are now located only a few blocks from our old Main Street home. Come by to see the new space which is twice a big and has a dedicated room for our MTG and Heroclix tournaments at 16 TURNTABLE JUNCTION, FLEMINGTON, NJ!

Subscribe to my newsletter

Avoid those algorithms! Get news delivered to your inbox. You'll also receive a free short story when you subscribe!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.