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Meet a Flatlander'

May 8, 2013
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Mark Ricketts releases A Flatlander's Guide to Maine,' release party on May 14

BANGOR Mark Ricketts of Moose Mountain and Earl Hornswaggle fame has a new book coming out, 'A Flatlander's Guide to Maine,' which features not only some of the greatest hits from the aforementioned cartoons and writings, but new content as well. 

There's many people who would never guess that Mark Ricketts was from 'away.' He's captured a lot of the spirit of Maine in his cartoons, illustrations and writings. Originally from Arkansas, Ricketts and his wife moved to Maine from Chicago, trading in the big city for a more small town feel seven years ago.

'It was a little crazier for her than it was for me. I had lived in Arkansas for years and there was a similar homey, small-town kind of thing that I got [from the Bangor area], and after living in the city, I was actually ready for that hometown feel,' said Ricketts in a phone interview. 

Choosing Maine was something of a whim for both of them.

'I never visited Maine [before moving here]. My wife said, I want to live in Maine!'' Ricketts recalled. 'It's like she has this picture-book image of Maine. We can live in Maine. You work at home, let's do that.' I looked on the internet and saw that Bangor had an airport and Stephen King lives there. Heck, let's just go there. That's kind of what we did. We just packed up our belongings and drove here.'

And it's been a natural fit. Ricketts is one of those rare transplants who doesn't just love Maine for its summers and tourist spots (though he clearly has a soft spot for those too) he loves all of Maine its quirks as much as its pristine parts, and it shows.

'It's so beautiful here. You can go 20 minutes in any direction and you're in this lush and beautiful landscape,' he said. 'I remember the first time I went to Acadia. This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. And while I was here I got really caught up in Bangor history. It's so crazy. The Hell's Half Acre, the lumber barons feuding, the lumber camps all that stuff. It was like I couldn't stop reading about it.'

And the results of this passion for the state are 'Moose Mountain' (The Maine Edge) and 'Earl Hornswaggle' (Bangor Metro). Ricketts said that the 'guide' part of the title is in earnest.

'It's like a guide. You have travel, entertainment, food, flora and fauna,' he said. 'I've broken it all down. Whenever I needed to fill in the gaps I got to throw in all new stuff.'

'Flatlander's Guide to Maine' is also borne of Ricketts's desire to contribute to Maine humor.

'I wanted to do more regional stuff. I was looking at Tim Sample and John McDonald and thinking I wanted to be a Maine humorist and contribute my little bit to Maine history,' he said. 'It might seem pretentious, but I have these very romantic feelings about Maine humor and Maine humorists and the culture.'

And for all his local charm, Ricketts has some big-time street cred in the writing and illustrating of comics and graphic novels for employers such as McGraw Hill, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, 'Nickelodeon Magazine,' 'Playboy Magazine' and 'August Magazine' just to name a few. 

You have a chance to rub elbows with Ricketts at the Bangor Greendrinks at the Bangor YMCA's Isaac Farrar Mansion/Symphony House (17 2nd Street, Bangor) on May 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information about the book, which will be available in all Maine Bookstores after May 14, visit www.islandportpress.com or call 846-3344. The event is family-friendly. The event features a digital slide show, a raffle for a framed print of Ricketts' work and other fun stuff. You can find the event on Facebook if you search for Bangor Greendrinks.

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