Let’s take a look at the third Detroit Mock City created for the Cartoonist Studio contest. Once again I had to reduce the size a bit to fit it here, you can click on it for the full sized image.
As I discussed quite a bit in the first two comics, Detroit has seen a huge population drop, 25% from 2000 – 2010, to the lowest level in 100 years. 951,270 people lived there in 2000, dropping to 713,777 in 2010. To give that more perspective more than 1.85 million people lived the in 1950. Detroit has the honor of being the only city in the United States to have a population grow beyond 1 million and then fall below 1 million.
So it’s a giant metropolitan quasi ghost town which struggles to maintain any kind of law and order, located in the number one super power country in the world. A real black eye on the USA in many ways.
So this comic is looking at the source of all this population drop and crime increase, a huge loss of jobs when the American auto industry took a dive resulting in the closure of Detroit’s main industry, the car factories.
Why did this happen? Globalization. In the 1950s the Detroit area had the highest median income, and highest rate of home ownership, of any major US city. Then GM felt the increasing pressure of foreign car makers who were able to import cars and sell them cheaper, which would eventually result in General Motors closing the majority of their plants. Detroit was built around GM and the American car market, and felt this attack from the oversea car brands worse than anyone else.
There is a lot of info about the rise and fall of the American auto industry you can look up for yourself if you’d like, but you get the idea.
So what we see here in panel one is a really minimalist depiction of a bustling New York city street. I really think I nailed it there, while not using a lot of shades or lines. I think it’s pretty expressionistic and creates an instant feel of a loud, crowded, terrible place to be.
Panels two and three depict the Motor City Industrial Park, once the thriving heart of the city, now abandoned. Many of the letters across the iconic bridge spelling out the Motor City Industrial Park are now missing and covered in graffiti, and foliage grows on many of the long untouched buildings. It really is quite a symbolic reminder of the city’s fall.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of these abandoned factories and see some amazing photos here are a few sites for you, Only In Detroit, From Motown to No-Hope Town, Wikipedia and Detroit Derek’s Flickr.