49 Writers Interview: Lee Post

Lee Post’s comic strip, “Your Square Life,” appeared in the Anchorage Press over seven years, for a total of 300 comic strips. Since then, he has had four books published and distributed locally, including two children’s books and a ‘best of’ compilation of the comic strip. Most recently, Post drew the first chapter of A Native Lad by Sarah Hurst and had a large retrospective of his work on display at the Dorothy G. Page Museum in Wasilla. His blog, www.yoursquarelife.blogspot.com , contains a sample of recent projects.  He recently returned from teaching a workshop in comics at the Homer Public Library, and he’s teaching a Raven Words workshop called Comic Adventures for kids ages 10-14 beginning July 25 in Anchorage.

What do you love about creating comics?

I love that every time I put my pencil to a piece of paper, I get a rush of freedom and creativity.  Comics are unique in that they end up being more than the sum of the words and pictures on the page.  Its a constant joy trying to find new ways to put the two, words and pictures, together. 

What inspired you to work with young writers?

I’ve worked with children and teens my entire career and most recently I’ve been mentoring a number of young artists. Cartooning for the most part is a solitary activity and I enjoy sharing all the lessons and mistakes I’ve made over the years to give kids a head start on learning to express themselves without getting frustrated by the boring and intimidating technical aspects of making comics. 

Tell us about the workshop you have planned.  How did you come up with the idea for the workshop?  What sort of fun can young writers expect there?

I’ve been planning this workshop for a while now. In the last year, I worked with a lot of teens at McLaughlin on several cartooning and art projects, some of which were participating reluctantly, but the cartooning activities I developed became some of their favorites and I was able to find a good balance between technical information and having fun with the art. 

It will be five days about building comics from one panel newspaper-type comics, all the way to a full page sequential story.  My focus is not on learning to draw per se, since I don’t think someone has to have a lot of artist skills built up to be a great cartoonist, just a desire to learn and a lot of enthusiasm.  The class will teach the students, regardless of experience, how comics work and offer some simple tools to make their own, even if they only use simple shapes and a few choice words.  I’ll be putting a lot of emphasis on experimentation and keeping pencils moving, as one of the most intimidating things about starting comics is just putting the pencils to paper.  The hope is that the kids will come out of the class with a stack of comics they’ve drawn and the experience and confidence to continue on long after the class is over.

What creative project are you working on now?

I just completed producing a book for the Alaska Immigration Justice Center called “Portraits” , in which five artists were paired with five writers to document the stories of recent immigrants to Alaska.  Last year I did the first chapter for “A Native Lad” by Sarah Hurst.  In between my big projects, I’ve been developing my graphic design skills by doing design projects for different non-profits like the Bryants Good Cookies , The Alaska Waterways Councils’ Scoop the Poop campaign, and Anchorage United for Youth , in addition to doing some caricatures for wedding invitations and special events. 
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