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PDX 100
posted July 10, 2012


Creator: Matt Sundstrom
Publishing Information: Fantom Forest, Paperback,
Ordering Numbers: 9780983356424 (ISBN13)

One of my lottery-winning comics fantasies up there with "buy friends in the comics industry" and "buy the old Black Eye business, retire CR and spend the rest of my life funding pamphlet-style print comic book that may only suit me" is to fund an award that facilitates people doing comics about local history. I think comics are an incredibly affecting form for exploring one's local landscape; I became convinced of this through Oliver East's comics work and some of the sketchwork I've seen in that most wonderful of all the comics magazines, Mineshaft. I'd kill to have had someone drawing buildings and people from the Muncie, Indiana of my 1960s and 1970s youth -- Stan Mack's series of cartoons is the closest thing we have, and my hometown is a city of intense sociological interest.

Summoned to my reading pile as if he created the work just for me is PDX 100, Matt Sundstrom's straight-ahead documentary of sights in the town in which he's based: iconic hipster city Portland, Oregon. It's broken down by neighborhood/general region of town, and while I wish there was a greater written component, the visual work here captures at least three things I came to love about the Pacific Northwest having been born and raised in the fields of corn and basketball hoops of the Midwest. One is that the houses make much greater use of the property on which they're placed; the yards are smaller, and many of the homes extend right up to what looks like a property's edge. Another is that the 1950s and 1960s seem to have never left a lot of the storefronts and building styles, and that was a much more interesting time than the suburban 1970s and 1980s that dictate a lot of what I have to look at when I go home. A third is that public buildings and multiple-unit housing plays a bigger role mixed right into residential neighborhood as opposed to being something you might only see downtown. I really enjoyed looking at it, and I wish there were 50 such volumes about 50 different places.