Thursday, July 11, 2013


The Story Behind the ‘Toon

In 2063 The Arts Center in Corvallis will celebrate its centenary, as will, in my cartoon, a Mr. Riley. ‘Way back here in 2013 The Arts Center will present, during the week of the DaVinci Days, “Corvallis 2063,” an imagining of the Corvallis of that year, by local artists and engineers and other such creative types.

On learning of this presentation at the Center I decided to try my hand at this subject, and the result you see here, “In 2063 Mr Riley Turns 100.” My cartoon is not very optimistic about the future Corvallis, but neither is it fully pessimistic — it falls in between, like things often do. When the 21st Century was the future, illustrations in sci-fi magazines like Amazing Stories had things gussied up to a pretty fabulous state by the turn of (this) century; it turned out somewhat less fabulous, although we did get the Internet and the ability to, with a click, discover the one weird secret that lets you lose belly fat without exercise.

In my imagined Corvallis it turns out that global warming is a real thing and not a conspiracy of scientists, and it’s gotten much warmer than the Corvallis of today. The vast and often destructive results of this change in climate have altered the economic as well as environmental landscape, and a fraction of what this means to Corvallis is shown in the ‘toon.

I allude to a great fire that came down from the hills, and this reflects my experience, having lived next to the firestorm in the Oakland Hills in 1991 — basically, an urban interface with a forest can be very dangerous when the weather gets hot, and dry, and the winds begin to howl. That fire was the confluence of unusual occurrences, but as warming increases it’s predictable that this type of fire will recur. It isn’t likely that humans will plan to avoid such events, and will require a tragic wake-up call.

But I do show an upside, in a town that is slower, and with a population that takes care of one another. There are many things I couldn’t include in my story, because of space limitations — things like using the Willamette River for power, and so forth. The main character in my ‘toon delivers a newspaper twice a week, which I name here as the Gazette-Times, because the name provided a handy way to get into, and out of, the cartoon — I wasn’t able to include the fact that The Corvallis Advocate, in 2025, bought out the GT and decided to keep the older paper’s name.

What the hell, it is my cartoon, right?

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