Local cartoonist finds humor in northern life

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - "My name is Jamie Smith, and I have been the cartoonist for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner for maybe about 27-28 years now, the feature has been running in the weekend Sunday Edition. The feature is called 'Nuggets.'"

Originally from Western New York, Jamie Smith moved to Alaska. He started creating comics for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner shortly after moving to the Interior. Prior to teaching Beginning Drawing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Smith earned his Bachelor of Fine Art in drawing and print making from UAF. He then continued his education by earning his Masters in Sequential Art, or comics, from the Savanah College of Art and Design. Smith goes on to discuss his thought process on developing his comics, and how it is similar to standup comedy.

Jamie Smith; Cartoonist >> "I call it "sit-down comedy." I think maybe one of the reasons I turned into a cartoonist is I just have really bad memory, so I can't remember a joke, so I was always writing them down, plus they were a little obscure and hard to get so I had to draw a little funny picture so people would get it, and then they just turned into cartoons."

Recently, Smith was honored with being one of three artists that will display his cartoons in the University of Alaska Museum of the North's café gallery from December through March. The cartoons from Nuggets and from some of his more controversial editorial cartoons span 2011 through 2016. Smith comments on what it means to be chosen to display his work.

J >> "I was really, really pleased and very proud to be invited to showcase for the first time, I think, ever cartoons in the museum. An opportunity like a show like this is a chance to stop and take the pieces and remove them from this non-stop media flow, because people read the newspaper and laugh and then it goes away, or they scroll pass it online and they laugh at it. This is a chance to freeze frame them and put them on the wall and see how they all work together and see how they stand on their own as well. It's a really cool opportunity."

Smith is also a freelance artist who illustrates for various events around town, including fun runs and occasionally for the National Parks Service. In addition to the art show at the UAMN, Smith has other projects that he is working on.

J >> "One of the projects I'm working on right now involves creating several children's books that I have in various stages. I'm juggling, all of the projects are up in the air right now. I'm compiling another "Best Of" book. I do have a third annual retrospect, The Best of the Year Show, this will be the third time I'm doing it at Ursa Major in January."

Jamie Smith goes on to describe how he deals with the success of being Fairbanks' most prolific comic artist.

J >> "I'm enshrined in a lot of outhouses, so that's a very distinct high honor, I'm humbled to be there because you have to look at it every single day. That really means a lot."