Telling your story with pictures
Juvenile probation supervisor by day, cartoon artist by night, Lee Post has turned a doodling habit into a hobby/career of sorts over the last 13 years. In the latest evolution of his artistic life, he is teaching kids how to use their cartoons as a personal journal or as journalism. The class is a featured event in Anchorage Public Library’s Anchorage Reads 2012. Post uses this year’s book, “The Complete Persepolis” to illustrate the power of using cartoons, even crudely drawn ones, to tell a story.
“Cartooning is a shorthand way to get your message across,” he said. “Comics allow you to give your message a nuance that you would not have otherwise. I find drawing much less intimidating than writing.”
A native of Palmer, Post started a ‘zine called “Your Square Life” when he returned to Alaska from college in 1999.
“It was an excuse to do drawings and articles,” Post said. “I did it for a couple, three years.”
Not only did he get to practice his craft in a public forum, he got noticed. In 2006, the Anchorage Press contracted with him to do a regular comic strip — a quarter-page in the weekly paper.
“It was modest to say the least. A nine-year-old laughed at me when I told him how much I made doing cartoons for the Press,” he admitted with a smile.
Working for the Press ended up being the best of teachers.
“The most important part was having a deadline every week,” Post said. “It forces you to do something on a regular basis. I would start on Sunday and draw it by Thursday. I played around with the format. It was fun to do.”
Besides his Press cartoons, Post tackled a variety of other projects, with a “have pen, can cartoon” enthusiasm. Baby announcements for his friends, birthday prints for his daughter, paper facsimiles of his family for Christmas decorations, laughing fish and busy beavers for an Anchorage Creeks campaign. He was one of 10 artists featured in the graphic novel “A Native Lad — Benny Benson Tells Alaska’s Story” published several years ago and helped with a Leadership Anchorage book composed of immigrant stories.
After six years doing comic strips for the Press, he pulled them together as a book called, of course, “Your Square Life.” In 2010, he had a retrospective show of his work at a gallery in Wasilla. With a new baby in the house, producing a couple children’s books seemed liked a logical progression. And, most recently, he was selected as a cartoonist for “F,” a local cultural magazine, and is encouraging the public to help him decide the topic of his monthly cartoon called “Would You Rather.” Twitter #akwyr with ideas or to vote on off-the-wall subjects.
“I’ve had kind of an odd journey. I started off as writer. I only took one art class in high school and one in college. It was really not until I started doing the comic strip that I started considering myself as an illustrator.”
“Essentially, the most important part of being an artist or cartoonist is just to do it,” Post said. “I am color blind, which made art classes with their emphasis on color pretty intimidating. But I have realized over time that there are a lot of different ways to be an artist. The most important thing, I think, is to be an effective story teller.”
Lee Post’s last Anchorage Reads workshop is Friday, March 9, from 3-5 p.m., at Teen Underground, Loussac Library. Anchorage Reads 2012: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, runs Feb. 2 through Mar. 9. Read the book and win a NOOK! After you finish Persepolis, go to facebook.com/anchoragereads and enter to win a NOOK Tablet in a March 9 drawing. A full calendar of events can be found at www.AnchorageLibrary.org.