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I find it so weird when people hear I’m in Portland and tell me to “be careful” or “stay safe.”
Portland is so friggin’ peaceful! Even the “bad” areas of Portland – and I’ve lived in a few of them (my neighborhood is nicknamed “felony flats”) – are quiet and calm.
Even those much-written-about conflicts between Proud Boys (or one of the other racist groups, they’re hard to keep track of) and antifa are mostly invisible.
I’ve been in downtown Portland and not seen a thing – then I get home and find out that the national news is reporting rioting here.
So thinking about that led to this cartoon. Hopefully it will amuse Portlanders while reassuring the rest of you that really, we’re all right here.
And thinking about drawing that final panel – which had to show not only a peaceful city scene, but to get across a specifically Portlandish vibe, including in the architecture – made me feel very intimidated, because I really struggle with drawing architecture.
So instead I asked Becky Hawkins to draw it, because she excels at that. And I’m glad I did, because whatever I managed to do with that panel wouldn’t have been as great as what Becky did. Will you look at that last panel! The bikers, the baby on the bike (very Portland), the building details… the level of detail is awesome.
Looking at the comic, I just now recognized the section of SE Hawthorne Becky based her drawing on. Becky knows this neighborhood very well, but used this image from google maps for reference.
See? No rioters.
Years from now, if anyone reads this cartoon, I bet they’ll be going “concrete milkshakes? What the heck is a concrete milkshake?”
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has five panels. The first four panels are narrow, and show a tight close-up of a woman’s head and shoulders as she talks on a cell phone. The final panel is a long shot, showing a sidewalk scene.
A woman with blonde hair, and glasses pushed up on top of her head, talks on a cell phone. She looks frightened.
WOMAN: If you don’t live in Portland, you can’t imagine what it’s like. It’s a friggin’ war zone here!
She continues speaking into her cell phone, now looking a bit angry.
WOMAN: Every day we’re dodging tear gas and concrete milkshakes! Proud boys and antifa are everywhere!
She holds up one hand to cup by her mouth, as if whispering.
WOMAN: Don’t print my name…. I don’t want to become their next target.
She looks wide-eyed and panicked as she presses the button to hang up the phone.
WOMAN: Even talking to you like this– oh no! Someone’s coming! No, NO! Please, don’t hurt me! AAARGH!
The “camera” has backed very far back, and we can now see that the woman is sitting with a friend at an outdoor table on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant or cafe. The friend is wide-eyed with shock; the woman is sipping her coffee and smiling as if she’s very pleased with herself.
We can also see almost a full block of the sidewalk they’re sitting on, and some of the street. It’s a peaceful street scene; diners sit at tables with striped umbrellas; a mom pushes a baby carriage; a parent bikes by with a toddler seated between the parent and the handle bars; two children play catch; further back, a woman in a black dress bikes, her black hair blowing behind her. The red brick building has green paint accents, and in the distance, trees and a mountain can be seen behind the city buildings.
WOMAN: God, I love out-of-town reporters!