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"Comics For Change" Profiles Oregon Activists

OPB | March 26, 2014 12:40 p.m. | Updated: March 26, 2014 1:41 p.m.

John Rosman/OPB

Comics For Change is a new series of mini-comics from the Portland-based nonprofit Know Your City (KYC) highlighting the work of ten community organizers in Portland. For this follow-up to the Oregon History Comics series, KYC brought together a group of writers and artists to create profiles of activists working on a diverse range of causes from homelessness to LGBT rights. Even longtime Portlanders will probably learn something new from the series.

Paul Knauls, the subject of volume 7 in the series, is known as “the unofficial mayor of Northeast Portland.” At 82, he’s been a business owner in the area for 50 years and he says the accomplishment he’s most proud of is the work he did to raise money for a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in front of the Oregon Convention Center. He says, “That was a major project to get all these people involved and it’s still surprising how many people don’t even know the statue is there.”

The writers and artists worked together, conducting interviews with each of the subjects, and looking at old photographs to help shape the visual narrative. Natalie Sept, the artist for volume 4, says she chose to focus on portraits to tell the story of Genny Nelson, co-founder of Sisters of the Road Cafe. “You can really tell a lot of the story through the details of someone’s face,” she explained. “I decided to make something really beautiful that honored the people she tried to help.”

Have you read the Comics For Change series? What questions do you have for some of the people who worked on it?

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