Phil Stanford made his name in Portland by needling the pompous and powerful with his columns for

The Oregonian

and the

Portland Tribune

. But Stanford has been particularly obsessed with the seediest corners of the city's shady past—much of it captured in his 2004 book,

Portland Confidential

. Stanford, 70, has now found a new medium: comic books. His 12-part series, "The City of Roses," illustrated by Patric Reynolds, launches in

Dark Horse Presents

No. 16 this month. The series is based on true events from 1968 to 1981 involving the city's drug kingpins and (Stanford says) crooked narcotics cops. The grimy history, Stanford says, helps explain how power in Portland really worked. "Everyone was crooked, everyone was very compromised," he says. "It's all what really happened—dirty dealers and dirty cops. But I changed some of the names to protect the guilty."