pyrohydrantophilia in portland

PDX hydrant

Let’s get these out of the way now, shall we? There are lots of different hydrant designs in Portland, most of which are orange, many of which are weather-beaten and full of personality, if you see personality in such things as I do. They don’t tell good jokes or anything, but personality goes a long way, and they do help put out fires.

 PDX hydrant

The top one was drawn after meeting with the Portland Urban Sketchers in Old Town, while the second one was drawn on my first evening in PDX, downtown. Someone in Portland did ask me if I really was obsessed with fire hydrants as my sketchbooks suggest, to which I was like, hello, like. As i’ve said before, we don’t get them in Britain so they’re still fascinatingly ‘foreign’ to me and remind me of Richard Scarry books I used to read when I was a kid. More than that, they are ever-present civic symbols, and really are different from place to place. When people ask me, oh what do you draw, I say “I draw fire hydrants”, it gives me something  more to say than “oh, you know, this and that, stuff”. It’s only really a small percentage of what I draw (most of what I really draw you don’t see, it’s scribbled cartoons of Magneto on any piece of paper on my desk) but I like them. In 2010 I did ‘NaNoDrawMo‘ and drew “fifty fire hydrants and other metal pipes that come out of the ground“, and promised myself after that crazy experience I’d never draw another. Yeah, that didn’t last long…
PDX hydrant
I think I might make a comic filled with fire hydrants who tell bad jokes. They stand there all day like a doorman or security guard thinking of jokes, and all of them are really bad. As you know I won’t be short of material on bad jokes or fire hydrants so it’s the perfect combination for me, should take me about five minutes to write. Perhaps I could invent a superhero who can see and hear through all the fire hydrants in the city, and when he/she sees crime can travel through the hydrant system and transform into Hydranto and beat the bad guys, put out fires, rescue kitties etc. Speaking of comics, I went to Floating World Comics on Monday, at the corner of 4th and Couch (pronounced cooch, by the way, it was named by Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo). This comic shop came highly recommended by my comics-making urban-sketching friend (cheers Kalina!) and I was not disappointed – more zines than I have ever seen anywhere outside of ZineFest, lovely little independent hand-made comics, some of which I’d bought before in SF, but many many local PDX titles. Plus so many regualr comics, graphic novels of every kind; it was beautiful. I ended up getting a couple of small comics, “Jetpack Shark” and another called something like “Everyone in the world can fart except me”, which is a sad, sad tale. Also picked up one of the DC relaunched titles, the ‘new 52′, Superman #0. I have been getting a ‘comics-udaction’ these past few years by my comics-appreciating friend Roshan so hopefully one day he can go there too. I got there just before it opened, so I drew the fire hydrant outside, as the street dried out from the previous day’s rain.

PDX hydrant

So anyway, if you are a pyrohydrantophile (new word of the year award, please, cheers?) and want to see some more of these guardians of the galaxy, go to my Flickr set “Hydrants and Pipes“. But I’m not really that much of a pyrohydrantophile. I don’t even know how they really work.

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9 thoughts on “pyrohydrantophilia in portland

  1. Vicky Porter

    I’ve always enjoyed your fire hydrants, and now I’ve learned a new word, too. I think your comic idea is great! Have you thought about a children’s book? Still, I think you should find out how they work as it could lead to further sketches.

    Reply
  2. redharparts

    I enjoyed your thoughts on fire hydrants. They are uniquely N. American (Does Canada have them?). Every one knows we’re not supposed to park in front of them. These people may think they’re too important to obey the law but got caught when there was a fire and the fire fighters needed access to the hydrant:

    Reply
    1. pete scully Post author

      Cheers! But they’re not uniquely north American, lots of other countries have them too. I loved the ones in Lisbon, and have seen some great ones sketched in Japan and Germany and other countries. I love the little things.

      Reply
      1. redharparts

        It’s been a long time since I was in Europe so I don’t remember. I was in Germany for 5 yeas, so I should know, but that was a REALLY long time ago.

  3. Linda Daily

    I agree with Vicky.You give these little guys so much personality that they deserve a story.I think a children’s book would be perfect!
    I can’t wait to see your food cart drawings.Tell us later which cart was your favorite.

    Reply
    1. pete scully Post author

      Cheers Linda! And I can tell you now, it was “I Like Thai Food”, downtown (that square where there are loads of food carts) I tried a few but that was the best. Must try more when I come back!

      Reply

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